Mitchell’s Musings: Not to be taken internally, seriously?

Common sense needed more than warning labels

I liked to read as a kid. A lot. Anything I could get my hands on really.

And it didn’t have to be a book or anything substantial.

Now, I did read books. In fact, I can remember lying on the bedroom floor reading westerns in the dark by the hall light that shone through the opening in the doorway.

When I had to get glasses in Grade 4, I thought it was my fault for reading too much, or with poor light.

But I also read the back of the cereal box while having breakfast. Over and over, again. That’s why I know that “Gratis L’interieur” means “Free inside.”

And even in the bathtub, as if I wasn’t really alive, or at least fully engaged in living, unless I was reading, and that included shampoo bottles.

Now, I know there’s not a lot of substantive reading on a shampoo bottle, although, “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” was a mouthful at the time, but something stayed with me after all these years.

They used to carry a warning – “Not to be taken internally” – that seemed curious at best and rather unnecessary at least.

I mean I was young enough to be pretty sure that meant don’t drink the shampoo, but then I thought they probably should have spelled that out a bit better because anyone stupid enough to actually drink shampoo ain’t gonna know what “Not to be taken internally” means.

Know your audience I always say.

I mean, maybe a baby might try to drink the stuff, but they can’t read anyway and they’ve got their own shampoo.

And it’s not like the stuff will kill you, I don’t think.

Maybe people, even back then, embarked on so-called cleanses that for some reason involved shampoo, but again, I doubt it.

It’s not like there was a warning on our Ivory bar soap that said, “Not to be taken internally, unless your mother is trying to teach you a lesson,”

I don’t know if conditioner bottles had similar warnings back then, cause we didn’t buy the stuff, but after exhaustive research that involved looking in three different bathrooms, there are no such warnings on either shampoo or conditioner bottles today.

Did we get smarter as a species or did shampoo manufacturers just get tired of stating the obvious?

Maybe the government stopped mandating the warning because, well, duh. And when did this happen? Sometime between my bathing days and my showering days, where reading, even shampoo bottles without my glasses, is most difficult.

Although this piece of evolutionary news is refreshing, it’s not like we lack for silly warnings on other items these days.

Like fast-food coffee. Many of the coffee cups contain warnings – “Caution, contents hot.”

No kidding. In fact, if it’s not, I’ll be choked.

Now unlike the shampoo thing, I know where this warning comes from. Somebody from Anywhere, Arkansas, took a chain to court after suffering burns to his lower region, I hope, and then somehow successfully sued the golden arches (or whoever) for giving him a hot cup of coffee without instructions and then the lawyers took over and we all have to read that disclaimer from now until eternity.

Just Google Shakespeare and lawyers to see what I think of this turn of events.

But why stop there? The possibilities are endless.

On ice cream – “Caution freezing cold, and more than a few calories.”

On video games – “Caution very addictive, and you may never see the outside world again.”

On condoms – “Caution, just caution.”

On phones – “Caution, obsolete before you learn how to use it.”

On metal poles – “Caution, cold in winter, keep tongues away…”

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of The Morning Star.

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