The Journal Gazette
Saturday, February 20, 2021 1:00 am

A product of his past

'Original' - of everything - maintains its advantages

Frank Hill

Many years ago, I was a fan of Listerine mouthwash.

It had an antiseptic taste which was not unpleasant. It seemed like a taste you would expect in a substance designed to rid your mouth of evil critters.

Then it disappeared, shoved aside by the more seductive mint Listerine.

Now there is a new version of “old” Listerine. Purported to be the “original” Listerine, it is described on the label as being “For a cleaner and fresher mouth than brushing alone.”

I do not mind brushing alone. If you do not like brushing alone, get married, have kids and get a dog. You will never brush alone.

Speaking of getting married, several of my teenage male friends used Ipana toothpaste and sent marriage proposals to Annette Funicello. She appeared in commercials for Ipana. I never wrote to her ... probably because I could not spell “Funicello.”

Even toothpaste needs assistance enhancing breath. So, wearing a COVID-19 mask and a baseball hat with the bill pulled forward to conceal my identity, I recently purchased the new version of “original” Listerine.

It sat unused until I finished the bottle of mint-flavored Listerine which had been on the bathroom counter. I actually looked forward to a return to the days of yore as I ceremoniously opened the new “original” Listerine.

Were the old days really better? Maybe.

Look at the wives of today who were lured into marriage by guys drenched in Old Spice after-shave. And, in an emergency when Old Spice was not available, we could slap on some Aqua Velva, brush our teeth with Ipana, swirl some Listerine while humming, and pop some Dentyne gum into our mouth as we walked out the door.

Guys looked better in the old days. We had constant tans from working in the hayfields, caddying, mowing lawns and lying on the grass complaining of being bored.

Bronzed and outwardly cocky, we were like shooting stars. For a brief time we looked great. It never occurred to us that our glow might fade. We were propped up by Listerine, Ipana, Old Spice, Dentyne and our bravado.

My recent shopping trip for Listerine took me to Target and Kroger. At both stores I also had been looking without success for Grape Nuts for several weeks. This annoyed me.

Stores which do not have Grape Nuts have special names. They are called gas stations, pizza parlors and auto parts stores.

Back home, I walked defeated to the mailbox. Waiting there was an invitation to join AAA. I was told that by joining AAA I would get 24 hours of free roadside assistance.

Nothing was said about the cost for the following 364 days.

Regardless of unsolicited offers of roadside assistance, labels promoting “original” mouthwash and absentee Grape Nuts, our isolated life in 2021 does have advantages. I can look forward to time with my wife.

I was explaining the pros and cons of the above products to my wife as she was trying to read. I knew she was fascinated with what I was saying when suddenly she used a French word with which I was not familiar.

Not wanting to admit I did not know the definition of the word, I made up an excuse that I had to go to the bathroom. It really was a ruse to check the dictionary on my cellphone.

The phone is a hand-me-down from my grandson, Birk. He upgraded. If you want to see the latest techy devices, from phones to video games, check with your grandkids. Be nice to them. You might get the handoffs.

After checking my cellphone dictionary, I returned to the table and fibbed to my spouse, “Oh, I just remembered the French word for 'idiot.' ” She spouted back, “It's 'Frank', isn't it”?

“How did you know?” I asked. Without looking up from her magazine, she said, “Years of experience.”

Frank Hill is a Fort Wayne resident.

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