New and Improved

This first appeared in Death Zone and Other Stories by Pantoum Press in 2011.  If you enjoy it, please share.


My hand soap advertises itself as being antibacterial. That’s amusing to me, because a property of soap is that it removes bacteria, germs and dirt. All soaps are antibacterial, so putting that on the label is like advertising that a bottle of water is wet.

We fall for this stuff though. Oh hey, this soap says it is antibacterial. This one doesn’t. Better get the one that says it is. That really is the thought process in my head when I buy stuff. I’m a well-trained consumer, I am.

This morning, I had one of those horrible tasting energy drinks. Read this as caffeine, and lots of it. But this one said it had Electrolytes. What the hell is an electrolyte? I looked it up, and apparently it means there is salt in it that causes ionization. Electrolytes help hydration, but sodium is not really a good thing for most of us, so do I want this in my drink?

Now I’m on a tirade and I’m looking at the list of ingredients on other things I eat: Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Titanium Dioxide, Silicon Dioxide. These are all ingredients listed on a package of corn chips. Do I want to be consuming these things? Isn’t Silicon Dioxide the chemical in those moisture-absorbing little packets that say “DO NOT EAT” on them? They make glass out of Silica… I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat that. Titanium… that’s a metal, new-and-improvedright?

But I do eat this stuff, knowingly or not, and have all my life. No telling how much Yellow #5 I have ingested during my lifetime. It hasn’t killed me so, yay. But is any of it good for me?

Tonight, I’m having a salad. I just want a break from ingesting the chemicals I don’t understand and can’t even pronounce. I’m no chemist and really am happier not knowing. Looking at the label on my salad dressing, it has Disodium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate in it. I just can’t win.

Oh! But the label says it is ‘New and Improved!’ Well that’s all right, then.



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