Helter Shelter

You'll Poke Your Eye Out

Right behind Thanksgiving, the holiday that has all the Christmas food without any of the Christmas hassle, this is my favorite time of year. It's Wacky Warning Label Time, thanks to the good folks at Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (MLAW).

This year's winner: A label on a CD player, which states: "Do not use the Ultradisc 2000 as a projectile in a catapult."

I did a little research, and I found out that the Ultradisc 2000 isn't some little thing like a Walkman, it's a high-end CD player, full of delicate little parts. Apparently, it's no longer being made. Back in the day, new ones went for about $2,500, and used ones still go for upwards of a thousand bucks. I couldn't find a picture of one, but I'm pretty sure it's a boxy thing, and not a particularly good piece of catapult ammo. I doubt that there was ever a real problem with people launching these CD players. So why the warning? Well, there's this little extra on the label: Such use could "cause personal injury as well as damage to the transport mechanism, and will void the warranty."

Now I get it. If something goes wrong with your fancy Ultradisc 2000, the technician is going to take one look at the thing, say he found a whole bunch of catapult marks on it, and deny your warranty claim.

The runner-up in the Wacky Warning Labels contest was this one, from a manufactured fireplace log: "Caution - Risk of Fire."

I think this pretty much settles it: Americans can't be trusted with fire anymore. All over the country, there are laws that forbid condo and apartment dwellers from having outdoor grills. That's because there's always some knucklehead who'll find a way to burn down the whole dang complex. It happened around here a few years ago, when a man took a hot log out of his fireplace and put it outside, on his wood balcony. Next thing anybody knew, flames were shooting 100 feet up in the air, and there was a whole parking lot full of people in their pajamas, just crying up a storm.

As I explained a few weeks ago, people in Northern California are outlawing fireplaces, because they stink. They stink because the locals burn something called, "piss fir."

Now, with this warning label, we know that fake log manufacturers don't even trust people to set the things on fire. One manufacturer boasts that their fake log makes for a particularly colorful blaze, and is "a delight any night of the week." Another one of their fake logs will let you "relax with the soothing natural snap and pop sound of a wood fire." But when you get the thing home, you find out that you'd better not set that sumbitch on fire. Something bad might happen. You needn't worry, though. If you're unhappy with your fake log, the company will allow you to return the "unopened/undamaged product." Then, they'll cheerfully refund the purchase price, less shipping and handling. Oh, and you'll owe 'em a processing fee.

I call that ingenious: Sell a product, tell people they'd better not use it, then charge 'em to send it back. Dang, I wish I'd thought of that.

The Wacky Warning Label Honorable Mention, from a 35mm camera: "When operating the selector dial with your eye to the viewfinder, care should be taken not to put your finger in your eye accidentally."

This might sound mean, but I'm going to say it anyway: Anybody who sticks his own finger in his eye won't be helped by a warning label. That person is just going to have a hard time, all day, every day. They're just like those people who cut off their own toes with lawn mowers - they're addled, they're full of mind-altering substances, or they're just plain jinxed. Regardless of their underlying problems, there's not a damn thing you can do for 'em.

Finally, here's an admonition that didn't make the Wacky Warning Label list. It's from AndroGel, a handy rub-on product for men who need a little boost in the hormone department. Here's what the label says: "Tell your doctor if your female partner develops changes in hair distribution, increases in acne, or other signs of masculinity."

Now, you might be thinking, "What? Tell my doc if my girlfriend starts growing a mustache, gets all pimply and starts hogging the remote? How could that happen, and what could my doc do?" Well, I'm going to tell you: AndroGel is a big improvement over the antique testosterone injections, and the testosterone creams that men used to have to rub onto their scrota. An AndroGel man can just rub the product onto his clean, dry chest and belly, and go on about his manly business. Problem was, men would rub the stuff on, then get all lusty and jump their women before the gel got good and dry. Next thing they knew, the women were getting lusty themselves (good) and growing face whiskers (bad). That led to the warning. The reason a man should tell his doc is pretty simple. The doc would say, "Let the stuff dry before you go rubbing up against your woman, or get ready to kiss a mustache."

Now that's one product warning that's just plain good common sense.