Dear Dr. Boli: Yesterday I was in the shower washing my hair with a new “clarifying” shampoo I bought at the Pharm-Aid when suddenly I understood everything. I saw with perfect clarity how democracy makes peace impossible by giving active expression to the unfiltered xenophobia of every drunken barroom orator. I understood how capitalism makes us all complicit in our own oppression, and saw that no alternative to capitalism was possible without absolutism and tyranny. It was transparent to me that politics is nothing but a team sport, in which the colors and rallying cries of the teams are different, but the only thing that matters is winning the game. I saw with crystalline sharpness that Mary Beth from Accounting was only toying with me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the people who claimed most insistently to speak for Christ or Mohammed were only giving voice to their own selfish prejudices. I understood that our entire economic system is a clumsy fiction in which the value of a person’s life is determined by the tall tales we tell ourselves about what constitutes worth. I saw through all my comfortable illusions, with no veil between me and the pure, unvarnished truth, and my question is how can I make it stop? —Sincerely, Stanislaus Perkins Kennan, Dutchtown.
Dear Sir: Dr. Boli has been telling his friends at the FDA for years that these “clarifying” shampoos need to come with warning labels. At present, unwary consumers may purchase them with no knowledge whatsoever of their potential side effects, with resulting fits of despair that make them, at best, unproductive citizens.
It is fortunate, however, that the antidote is easily obtained. Go back to the drug store and pick out a shampoo with as many irrational claims on the label as you can find—”hydrates,” “invigorates,” “nutritive,” “stimulating,” “fortifies,” “heals traumatized hair,” and so on. These are known in the cosmetics trade as obfuscating shampoos, and they will soon have you sorted out and back to normal.
Dear Dr. Boli: Are you planning anything special to celebrate the two hundredth “Ask Dr. Boli” feature? —Sincerely, A Numerically Inclined Reader in Bloomfield.
Dear Sir or Madam: No.