WASHINGTON — Today is the latest installment of my continuing, Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer service rep.
Colgate-Palmolive Lavender and Chamomile liquid hand soap
Me: I have an emergency.
Kim: How can I help you?
Me: My wife insists on putting your product in our little bathroom, which she also insists on calling a "powder room." The stuff makes your hands smell like the botanical gardens threw up on them.
Kim: What is your emergency?
Me: I accidentally used some.
Kim: Okay, and . . . ?
Me: Am I going to become gay?
Kim: No. It is just a fragrance. It is not going to cause you to become gay.
Me: Good. I mean, being gay is fine. But I am already married.
Kim: I understand. What soap product do you usually use?
Me: I make it myself from rendered pig fat, chicken gristle and sand.
Comet disinfectant cleanser
Me: I was reading the label of your product and couldn't help noticing that it said: "Active ingredient: Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione dihydrate: 1.2 percent. Other ingredients: 98.8 percent."
Me: Well, isn't that a lot of unspecified ingredients? They could be anything.
Anna: The inactive ingredients are proprietary. We do not reveal them.
Me: Exactly. So here is what I want to know: Might one of the unnamed ingredients be rat lips?
Anna: That is giving me the creeps.
Me: Me, too. Can you assure me that one of the unnamed ingredients is not rat lips?
Anna: Let me put you on hold.
(Two minutes pass.)
Anna: Okay, there are also alkalis, buffers, complex sodium phosphates, surfactants. . . .
Me: But there are still a lot of ingredients you do not know. Right?
Anna: Yes. Their identity is proprietary.
Me: So we are agreed that they could include rat lips.
Me: I am an actor, and I am shooting a film where I need to have ketchup splattered all over my shirt. But I am allergic to ketchup, so I am wondering, would human blood work okay instead?
Mark: Well, I think there is a gel-like chemical that they use to simulate blood in movies.
Me: Yeah, but I need to simulate ketchup.
Mark: I would go in the direction of the gel. To find it, you could Google "fake blood."
Me: But I need fake ketchup.
Mark: You could Google "simulated ketchup."
Häagen-Dazs ice cream
Me: Close your eyes so you cannot see any product around, and spell Häagen-Dazs.
Desiree: H-ä-a-g-e-n D-a-z-s.
Me: Wrong. You forgot the hyphen and the umlaut over the first "a."
Desiree: The what?
Me: My point exactly. If you can't spell it, no one can. And it's all nuts, because Häagen-Dazs isn't even foreign. It originated in the Bronx. Anyway, I am here to propose a new jingle for your company, to help the consumer out. You can have it for free.
Here's our ice cream: Taste it, smell it,
Just don't ever try to spell it.
We paired two a's, then, just for fun,
We put a silly hat on one!
Then we really stuck the knife in —
There is no space. We use a hyphen.
And at the end? (No way to guess.)
We put a z before an s.
Let's make it simple as can be:
Häagen-Dazs spells F-A-T.
Gene Weingarten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can chat with him online at noon Tuesdays at www.washingtonpost.com.