Mr. Theodore Tylenol has a fortune that puts Bill Gates to shame, but unlike Bill Gates, Theo is a quiet man who keeps these things to himself. His continued success is dependent upon his low profile. If his name became well-known in the media, people (by which I mean pill-popping consumers) might think twice about the little omnipresent bottle in every bathroom cabinet in North America.
The alarming truth about Tylenol is that no one really knows what it is, nor does anyone seem to care. Awe towards the bottle of Tylenol has been cleverly built up over the years by arrows that never line up, child-proof mechanisms that challenge even the most dexterous and highly intelligent among us, and a mysterious piece of cotton, the purpose of which eludes even the people who put it there. We don't understand it, therefore, it MUST be scientific!
For all we know, Tylenol might just be the biggest hoax in the world. They might be tablets of sugar, pocket lint, moon dust, or ground-up baby teeth. Acetaminophen might be a little-none synonym for "chalk remnants". Do you know for sure that it isn't? What if Tylenols are just a deceiving recycling program the way hot dogs are?
The problem is that people enjoy taking Tylenol. It has been a comforting habit, and nothing else. Sure the bottles says it has 'medicinal' ingredients, and to not exceed 8 tablets per day. That's still 8 tablets! You probably shouldn't exceed 8 hot dogs per day either, but it won't kill you if you do. After all, Tylenol, like hot dogs, can be purchased over-the-counter, by anyone. It is taken for headaches, tummy troubles, fever, soreness, broken hearts, phobias, general feelings of malaise, or just for lack of anything better to do. The packaging plays a part in this: it is marketed for 'pain'. Yup, pain. Well, Theo, pain is pretty general, don't you think? Stepping on a rusty nail is pretty painful, should I take two Tylenol for that? Labour is pretty painful, how many Tylenols do you recommend for that? Listening to John Tesh play the piano is painful, what's the dosage then? Or how about when I'm tripping on shrooms and my hair hurts? Or when I'm locked in a stairwell and I'm so embarrassed it aches? Tylenol? Is that the answer?
And don't get me started on this 'extra-strength' crap. Tylenol calling itself extra-strength is like Colin Ferrell and this whole bad-boy rap that he's given himself. What, drinking beers and having sex (or wanting to), makes you 'bad' now? Bah. Colin Ferrell is a greasy schmo who relies on his reputation to lay women. The extra-strength thing works in a similar fashion: it reels you in, validates your pain, makes you feel special for taking it, then never calls you again after you've been seen in the tabloids with it. Well, except for that last part.
Tylenol, like Colin Ferrell, is inexplicably popular. And if Tylenol really is a drug, then shouldn't we be concerned? Colin could be spreading herpes, or leaving behind a trail of little no-talent children. Tylenol could be responsible for any number of things, like male pattern baldness, bunions, eye twitching, or political blogs. I think we can agree that we'd like to eradicate all of those. No one really knows the damage we could be doing with these things, but that rarely stops anyone from downing 2 tablets with half a bottle of Evian.
More than likely, Tylenol is not responsible for world hunger or wet dreams or cotton mouth. Probably, it's a harmless placebo that gives people peace of mind when they are sick. It makes them feel like they are doing something for themselves. It doesn't do much to improve their health, but then, Colin Ferrell's small excuse for manhood probably doesn't do much to pleasure sexually, but women sleep with him for the idea more than anything, right? Bragging rights. Tylenol alleviates the guilt of having called in sick AGAIN. Tylenol makes you feel responsible again after a night of drinking. Tylenol gives you the power (illusory or not) to help yourself, and if helps the masses feel even just a teensy bit better, then I guess it's done it's job one way or another.
But a note of warning to Mr. Theo Tylenol: I've got my eye on you. And it's my good one.