My dentist asked me to work the word "teeming" into a column, and while I usually don't take requests, you want to humor the guy who just stuck a pointed stick in your mouth. We were talking about the bacteria on the average toothbrush, which can rival the number of stars in the galaxy; that's why it's important to replace your toothbrush more often than you file taxes. At the end of the visit, I did not get a new toothbrush, along with the (HINT HINT) box of floss (HINT HINT). Why? I'd told him I have a new tool. The Internet-Enabled Toothbrush.
No, it's not connected to the Internet. That would be madness. It could get hacked. The hacker would change the password and you would be unable to get the toothbrush into your mouth. Or you'd mumble your Social Security number while brushing, then get a call from your credit card company asking if your molars bought an Hermes bag in Barcelona.
By "Internet toothbrush" I mean —
Well, let me back up. If you've been on the Web or listened to radio or podcasts, you may have heard a question that really stops you in your tracks: Are you tired of paying high prices for drugstore razors?
Oh, yes. You have no idea how tired I am. I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning as it is, but the idea that I'll have to drive to the drugstore, find the shaving aisle, choose from three blades, four blades, five blades, the six-blade one that vibrates like a terrified hamster or the new seven-blade model that can depilate a porcupine with one stroke? Or do I get the one with the special ridged handle for a better grip? Because I'm sick of the razor flying out of my hand and clattering against the mirror.
I am so tired of paying drugstore prices that I fell asleep in the aisle once; when they prodded me awake I groaned, because I hadn't even paid for the blade yet. You have to go to the counter, get out your wallet, swipe the card — my arm aches just thinking about it — and then carry them out to the car, where you can take a quick nap before you drive home.
It's just exhausting. So, yes, I am weary to the marrow of my soul. What's the alternative? Well, ordering blades online. You sign up, and every so often new blades arrive, at a fraction of the price. (Note: 8/7 is, technically, a fraction even though it's more than 1.) Apparently some people like this, because the model has spread to other common hygiene items, and that's where the Internet Toothbrush comes in.
It's called the Quip. Designed … by DENTISTS! That's great, because I'm just done with toothbrushes designed by chain-saw makers. The Quip is a slim device that looks like it comes from a rational Swedish future and has a timer to tell when to move from the upper-left-hand side to the lower. When you're done, you use the ridges on the backside of the brush head to clean your tongue, which is also a great way to check your gag reflex.
But here's the deal. Once you sign up, they send a new brush every three months. That's when you're supposed to change brushes, except most of us don't. If you have one of those vibrating brushes, you know the routine: The first day it's all buzzy and eager. I see a jot of toffee! Let me at it! I'll murderize that fleck of candy! After a month it's punching the clock; after three months all the bristles are splayed and the little motor now has the enthusiasm of an underpaid carwash worker vacuuming out an ashtray.
Finally, it dies. Bzzt — bzzt — bzzzzzzt. Now it's useless. Even though it's still a toothbrush, somehow it's useless now. You regard it like an escalator that stopped working. "But it's still stairs, right?" Doesn't matter.
Wouldn't it be great to have brushes arrive all by themselves, as though the American Council of Dentists Who Wished You Flossed More knew it was time for fresh, firm bristles? That's the idea behind the Quip. You can, of course, cancel at any time.
Great idea. I am grateful they didn't go the Columbia House records route, because then it would work like this: You see a comic-book ad for TWELVE TOOTHBRUSHES FOR 99 CENTS. Choose from a hundred styles! All you have to do is agree to buy 12 brushes in the future, and each month they send you a card, and if you don't send the card back they send you the brush, which costs only $49.99. You'd forget to send the cards back, and then they'd send you the brush and you would hate it, but you'd be on the hook.
Eventually you'd tell your parents what you did, and they'd write the company a letter explaining that you were a minor.
Anyway: I no longer have to go to the drugstore for razors or toothbrushes. Such a boon. If the modern world turns out like it seems to be going, teeming with online convenience, I'll never have to leave home and interact with humans and can just brick up the doors to my house.
Please tell me I can get the bricks online. I am so tired of paying for home-improvement store bricks.