Sunday, October 11, 2015

my shit's fucked up

In 1857, Joseph Gayetty introduced the public to "Gayetty's Medicated Paper for the Water-Closet." Prior to Mr. Gayetty's invention, people used some of the most primitive, unsanitary and barbaric methods of... of... well, cleaning up after themselves after using the bathroom. I'll skip the gory details and say that Mr. Gayetty doesn't nearly get the credit he deserves. His name, in my opinion should be spoken with the same reverence as Benjamin Franklin and that lying, thieving, claim-jumping bastard Thomas Edison. Gayetty's folded sheets of aloe-enhanced disposable cloths were the standard in bathroom cleanliness, remaining relatively unchanged for nearly four decades. Obviously, it was a vast improvement from the previous way of taking care of business and the public was duly satisfied. 

We're on a roll now!
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, paper manufacturing brothers Clarence and Irwin Scott made a slight improvement on Gayetty's medicated paper. Instead of neatly folded stacks, the Scotts put 1000 perforated sheets on a continuous roll. Once again, the bathroom tissue industry was revolutionized. The Scotts made a fortune and a new market standard was achieved. Over the years, many attempted improvements were developed and introduced, but they never caught on and were dismissed as fads and novelties.

In early 2001, paper giant Kimberly-Clark (who, six years earlier had acquired competitor Scott Paper), decided that it would try to improve upon the unimprovable commodity of toilet paper, despite extensive market research telling them otherwise. Against better judgement, they launched a product called "Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes" in a very aggressive, nationwide campaign. They flooded every available advertising outlet — newspapers, television, magazines. They even got Jay Leno to give a live plug on the Tonight Show. Kimberly-Clark anticipated $150 million in sales the first year and America to change its collective approach to lavatory tidiness. Not surprisingly, it didn't pan out to the company's expectations. The $35 million media blitz was a bust, when a planned goodwill tour by a mobile restroom was cut short when the public's focus turned to personal safety rather than personal hygiene after the attacks on September 11th. However, Kimberly-Clark was determined to make this thing work goddammit! and production of Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes continued, although company executives revealed that "sales are so small they aren't financially material."* (Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes have since been reimagined and no longer come on a roll. They come in a tub and are known as Cottonelle Fresh. They are marketed the same as baby wipes. Sales are light.)

So, things stayed pretty much the same as they had been. People were satisfied with the post-number two cleaning process and all was good in the world. Other companies (oh, I'm looking at youNabisco!), not content with the unwavering success of their products, looked for unnecessary improvements, But, as far as the bathroom was concerned, it was business as usual.

W A R N I N G !
I was pretty discreet and restrained in the first part of this blog entry, but the gauntlet has been thrown, the gloves are off and — pardon my all-too-obvious pun — the shit is about to hit the fan.

Now, all of a sudden, someone thinks humans have been shitting the wrong way and they are determined to correct our misguided elimination process. Look, no one has to be taught how to shit. Cavemen shit. Primitive tribes shit. Babies shit without instruction. As they get older, they only have to be taught where to shit, not how to shit. Shitting is an instinct, like breathing. It's something we just do. And if we didn't, we'd die. See? It is a lot like breathing.

I got an email from Bed Bath and Beyond the other day. I get emails from them frequently because I bought a box of Keurig K-Cups from them four years ago and now I'm stuck on their mailing list. Actually, they were the inspiration of a blog entry, so I don't unsubscribe in hopes I can be inspired/pissed off again. Bingo! Payoff! This particular email touted a product called "Squatty Potty," a footstool that, evidently, the human race should have been using all along because we have no idea how to shit. Really? Really? According to the ad, the shrewd entrepreneurs on the show Shark Tank loved this. I guess, as smart as they are, they don't know the correct way to shit either. So, now they're shitting correctly and making even more money by investing in a combination footstool/shitting aid. No wonder I'm not rich. 

I can understand a garden hose that coils itself up after the water is turned off as an improvement on the standard green hose we've been sold for for years. I certainly understand the need for a microwave oven that can cook food faster than that big, bulky oven that takes up so much floor space your the kitchen. Phones without cords  great! A GPS over a road map or stopping to ask directions absolutely! But, come on! Convincing me that, after thousands and thousands of years, someone has determined that people require a change in the way they shit? And that information doesn't come from the Surgeon General or some similar official? Instead, it comes from a couple of guys with a website, four rich investors with dollar signs in their eyes and a chain store that proudly accepts their own expired coupons?!?

You gotta be shittin' me!

*quote from an article in The Wall Street Journal

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