Jewish World Review July 12, 2004 / 23 Tamuz 5764
Jay D. Homnick
Hair today, gone tomorrow
The tandem of tanned Dems who would like to evict Bush and Cheney from Pennsylvania Avenue have, perhaps for the first time in memory, overtly solicited votes based on good looks. They have hit the road running, with a stump speech featuring their declaration that "we have the best values, the best leadership… and the best hair!" As one who concedes nothing to either of them in the hair department, I would like to respond to their claim in the arena of values by offering some meditations culled from studying my… shampoo.
Somewhere between the slathering and the lathering, I found myself reading the ingredients on my bottle of Suave. There I discovered that the magical texture was achieved by combining methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. This prompted my thought processes in two directions, one concerning profit and the other concerning prophecy.
For the first, I recall a clever short story by Woody Allen, where he places Dr. Heimlich in a laboratory setting, in which a number of scientists are frantically competing to invent the correct motion with which to pressure a choking person to spit up the object.
The famous Maneuver barely inches out the efforts of another team, just as they were poised on the brink of success. The point of the story was to highlight the nature of genius and its ability to skip steps, suddenly going off into uncharted territory to bring back the spoils of victory.
Similarly, I imagine our protagonist in a white coat and green eyeshade laboring in the Suave laboratories until all hours of the night until… Eureka! The beginnings of an idea emerge; but can it be? Dare he even hope that it is possible? That if he merely adds one more drop of methylisothiazolinone, but this time weighed down with a molecule of chlorine to render it methylchloroisothiazolinone, he might achieve true perfection? That hair will now fluff like the finest silk?
Timidly, our hero ventures into the office of his chief, he of the whitest coat of all, he of the greenest eyeshade ever made. He lays out his findings and, in a quaking voice, offers his theory. The chief explodes: more chlorine molecules?! Already there is cetrimonium chloride! Already there is potassium chloride! Already there is distearyldimonium chloride! More chlorine I need?!
Finally, the chief agrees to experiment. "But if this backfires on me, Johnson, I'll banish you to the West Wing of the lab and you'll be checking urine samples for marijuana for the rest of your natural life!" Thus is history made. Yes, that is our friend Dr. Johnson over at the far end of the bar, his fat wallet on his thigh, his hair a bed of cashmere, wondering what weird science geek vibe he is emitting that makes the girls all give him a wide berth.
Except that this fantasy is only a whimsical tad removed from actuality. There are labs in this great country of ours devoted to such trivia, and it is through this bit of self-indulgence that life becomes an ever more many-splendored thing. But had our system devoted itself only to such high-minded goals as excite the redistributionist heart, prosperity would apologetically flatten itself into banality. Life might become fair and fairer, but we would never meet "the fairest of them all".
Had Jimmy Carter been elected President-for-life, our friends Messieurs Kerry and Edwards would have hair like Brillo pads and moods to match.
On a more spiritual note, we might pursue the following reflection: think how great a level of care went into creating the conditions of our existence. We are the product of a Creator who took the trouble to work out the combination of methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone just so that human beings could enjoy each other just another bit more. That sort of planning and precision should elicit from us an equivalent measure of care not to tamper with the natural balance, and valence, of things.
The Amendment to confirm that marriage is a construct designed exclusively for the union of a man and a woman should be redundant. Still, if the peculiar dislocations of a transitional moment in history require the reaffirmation of this basic premise, let us not shrink from such a codification.
The Creator has often enough been coy with vital information; He withheld the automobile and the telephone and the computer until Mankind had developed to a certain level. Now all His secrets come tumbling out, as prophesied, a "new heaven and a new earth" with planes flying and cars whizzing, and even the belated marriage of Methyl C. and Methyl I., as above. Yet to unlearn the old truths while revealing the new would be the height of ingratitude -- and folly.
We don't begrudge Messieurs Kerry and Edwards their hair: let them have the courage to honor the beauty of all Nature by accepting its clearly defined categories.
JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2003, Jay D. Homnick