Friday Frivolity: Minutia

This story is included in my book “Laughing while Shopping”.  You may order 30 such stories in any of 3 books [Laughing at Life, …while Shopping, …in Stitches] for a measly eight bucks (plus the “small print” shipping and handling) from

How many of you are old enough to remember 99 44/100% Pure?  Once upon a time, that was the catchphrase for Ivory  soap.  For all I know, it may still be used as its slogan.  For all I don’t know—what sense is there to the 44-hundredths of a percent?

I doubt very much that any of the human senses can detect the difference between 99.44% and 99% purity.  Nobody that I know anyway.  Ears are not even in consideration.  Not the eyes, nose, nor tongue and certainly not the pores of our skin can detect such a small variance.

Yeah, I know, it was a marketing ploy to sound better than other brands.  And, it worked.  Can you name a soap that’s only 99% pure?  Didn’t think so.  Nor do you likely care what the percent of impurities is in your favorite soap.  Hmmm, I’m not even sure if anyone actually knows what “non-pure” elements could be in soap.  But, wait…Ivory floats.  Oh no, could it be that they whip unpurified air into it?  There’s gonna be an investigation….What’s the number for the Pure Food and Drug Administration?

Of course, soap isn’t the only product to have a seemingly ridiculous decimal in its advertising.  I say “ridiculous” because nobody really cares that gasoline is actually only one-tenth of a cent from being a penny more per gallon.  Who knows why the .9¢?  Not me.  Maybe—once upon a time—there was a valid purpose for the 9/10 of a cent appended to the price per gallon.  Even if there were, it’s not presently logical.  So, why don’t they just drop the foolishness of .9¢?

Alas, that’s just not going to happen.  Imagine if one station did, and others didn’t.  Wow, what a buying frenzy.  Hundreds of cars would be lined up at SpendAway that is offering gas for four-fifty-even when competitor’s pumps sit idle at four-fifty-point-nine.

There is one more bit of “minutia” on my mind.  This morning, as I was contemplating this frivolous essay, I took my daily regimen of pills.  I paused at the aspirin.  81 milligrams.  What?  Eighty-ONE.  Who decided that 80 mg. was insufficient?

I also had cause to wonder if a bottle of 80 mg. aspirin would cost me only $19.00 9/10.  Nevertheless, my most distressing bewilderment was speculating on the matter of its purity.  Was my pill 99.44% pure aspirin?  It’s buffered, so it’s definitely not 100%.

Ah-hah, my deliberative mind eventually arrived at an answer.  It may, indeed, be only 80 milligrams of acetylsalicylic acid and one milligram of calcium carbonate, the buffering agent.  For those of you who might be wondering about calcium carbonate, I checked.  The CaCO3 could be pulverized snail shells.

Nah, you probably are not wondering about the minutia things that cause me consternation. Yet you may wonder about the purity of the minutia cells in my brain.

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