By Dan Poehlman
Normally, I’m not one to jump on the whole “America is turning into Idiocracy,” bandwagon. Yes. It’s a great movie. It’s oddly prophetic in some (or many) instances, and with the current state of “I’d have a beer with this buddy” American politics and society, it’s pretty apparent we’ve become a culture of really weird and almost comically incurious, superficial and vapid consumers (case in point: The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and pretty much anything labeling itself “must-see TV” with overly squeaky, perpetually-confused, orange people in it). However, I just don’t think we’re destined for such a collapse.
Nonetheless, the other day, it happened.
I was standing in the shower getting clean before my girlfriend (and proprietor of this blog) Emily came home to say, “How do I put this nicely?” And, I’ve learned from childhood that any sentence that begins with those six words usually ends with me sauntering off in a funk to erase my much-beloved, primal stench. In fact, that’s probably how civilization came to be. It was built upon that simple question. Those six words were probably issued by a frustrated Cro-magnon woman who simply reached the end of her rope:
“Ugg?” it began. “How do I put this nicely?”
“Unngh?” Ugg responded sheepishly.
“Ugg? You need to stand up straight, shave your face, stop shitting in the corner, quit scribbling on the walls of our cave, and clean yourself up before people think we’re Neanderthals!”
From there, mankind’s advancements are probably just an endless struggle to find a way to help keep women happy. The hanging gardens of Babylon. The Great Wall of China. The American Wild West. The Industrial Revolution. Soap. The disposable razor. And, finally, a freaking shower gel with electrolytes in it.
Electrolytes! What would my cave-dwelling ancestors say to that?
The first time I’d ever head about electrolytes was from a terminally hungover nursing student in college. She was drinking a glass of water with a slice of lemon in it, and I made the passing remark that her lemonade recipe really needed some help. Her response, before throwing up, was to tell me that plain water sucked and that she needed the electrolytes for hydration (electrolytes which, strangely enough, were now hydrating the half-eaten powdered eggs, limp toast and other college dorm-life breakfast detritus in the bottom of a garbage bin).
A decade later, while a still-X-Treme!!! America was neck deep in the near-lethal incompetence of the Bush Administration, I saw the movie Idiocracy, and I was reacquainted with the humble electrolyte. To me, it wasn’t the film’s portrayal of our government being something akin to Wrestlemania, and it wasn’t even the notion that, in the movie, Fox News was now staffed by barely literate, willfully ignorant eye-candy as opposed to competent news anchors like Gretchen Carlson or Steve Doocy.
What stood out most to me was the electrolyte-laden Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator. It was a sports drink. It was a plant food. It was a laundry detergent.
Why did it stand out to me?
Because electrolytes. That’s why!
I guess you could say I had a Brawndo-moment while I was out buying a new shower gel and noticed a Right Guard version that not only mutilates my primal, caveman odor’s ass four apparently different ways, but it also has electrolytes. That just had to be better, I thought. After all, my previous shower gel didn’t have electrolytes in it. I know this because, when I upended the bottle to learn that I had seriously over-estimated the amount of goop inside, I held the bottle up before my water-stung eyes and read the label as if expecting to see, “A miraculous 20% more for a guy name Dan!!!!” or even a “Hey, buddy! You’re not completely out. There’s a little more stashed under the cap. Just rip it off. Go ahead. Everybody does it,” there was no mention of electrolytes.
How can I hydrate without electrolytes? I’ll never feel refreshed again without electrolytes helping me feel refreshed! My skin will look like it’s been mummified! I’ll look like someone who spent the last decade smoking low-grade crack with Charlie Sheen in a Kentucky truck-stop men’s room! And, though that’s pretty extreme, it’s not the socially acceptable X-Treme!!! that can only come with an external hydration regimen built around the ass-kicking electrolyte.
Needless to say, as I stood there completely mystified by the very notion that something as benign as body wash could be transformed into something awesome and scientific, and therefore better, by the simple addition of a free ion, a small voice, oddly similar to a once forgotten Chemistry professor of mine, began chirping in my head.
“Dan?” He said. “You’re not seriously thinking of…”
“But, it’s got electrolytes!”
“Yes. But, it’s a shower gel.”
“Okay. Want to know a secret?” The voice asked.
“Electrolytes are what plants and my body crave?”
“No.” He sighed.
“All soaps have electrolytes. The water in your shower has electrolytes. The salt on your filthy skin is…”
“Bingo! Now, go play with your crayons. Gonzo has spoken.”
In the end, and because I’m lazy and decision-making is best left to my much more capable girlfriend, I chose to buy the electrolyte-laden shower gel, and that has made all the differen…. err… well… In all honesty, it really hasn’t made a damn bit of difference. I still get just as drenched in the shower. When I step out of the shower, I’m still just as wet. When I dry off, I’m still just as dry as always. Now, as far as feeling refreshed goes, well, I really don’t know what feeling refreshed is.
It’s not like someone rubbed a lemon in my face, blew cold, mint-tinted air up my underpants or anything truly refreshing like that. But, I’m clean. And, in today’s caveman-intolerant culture, I guess there might be a place for me, after all.
Dan’s a pretty boring guy for a screaming-mad lunatic. And, when he’s not chasing squirrels around the yard demanding that they stop speaking Swedish, he can usually be found pecking away at a keyboard trying to write a book (or two). All-in-all, it’s a pretty fun life—if not at least a little challenging. Sadly, Dan hasn’t updated his blog since January.