Tuesday, January 31, 2006

HOW LISTERINE RUINED MY LIFE: A MINI-MEMOIR ABOUT HOPE AND DESPAIR

When I was a little girl, there was a Listerine commercial that was played in heavy rotation. In it, a white woman with long blonde tresses is getting ready for another high-octane day at her corporate Manhattan headquarters.

After gargling seductively while gazing intently at herself in the mirror of her steel-and-white-tile penthouse bathroom, she slips into a conservative gray skirt suit, nude hose, and white tennies. Giddy, she skips through the streets (must be downtown - only bankers dress like that) to her workplace, perfect hair beating against some pretty impressive shoulder pads, where she replaces her Kaepas for equally bland black pumps. Finally, it's off to work. She wows a couple of suited-up confreres (all Caucasian males) with her pre-Powerpoint era presentation. Then, the money shot: a split second of her office from the air, filmed from the flank of a rented chopper. Close-up of a Listerine bottle. Some slogan about gingivitis. Fade to black.

Could it be any more 80s?

Oh, how I wanted to be blonde, and to wear white trainers with suits, and to live in a penthouse in New York. And how I wanted to be... La Corporate Type. (To be honest, the job was secondary. I just wanted the bathroom and the outfit. It was my mother, who explained those things were mere perquisites of an office-oriented lifestyle, the ne plus ultra of modern serfdom.)

Fast forward 20 years or so. More often than I care to admit, I work in my pajamas. I don't wear Kaepa, Keds, or any other white, "American Casual" footwear with my suit... on the rare occasion that I do wear a suit at all. I've been living all over the place, but my frequent relocations bring me no closer to Manhattan. Needless to say, I'm still the brown-haired Eurasian mutt I always was.

How disappointed mini-me would be, to see what I have become today.




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