There's a new diet pill on the market this week, a nonprescription fat-blocker that's selling out around the nation despite the following potential side effects: "Gas with oily spotting, loose stools or more frequent stools that may be hard to control." You know, people say writing is hard, but some nights these things just type themselves. I just sort of sit off to the side, have about six glasses of wine and fall asleep.
Alli is the latest and 12-millionth Magic Dieting Pill to emerge from America's fledgling over-the-counter drug industry, a silver bullet for the delightfully tenacious chunk of the American electorate that still, bravely and in the face of thousands of years of medical science, believes it's possible to lose weight without modifying one's Dorito intake or walking around sometimes.
The pill in question is called Alli, which you know if you've been seated on the train next to someone who has recently taken Alli, because they have possibly clutched their intestinal quadrant and screamed something like, "Merciful God in Heaven above! The gas with oily discharge about to burst forth from me must come from the Alli! Damn you, Damn you, loose-stool-producing devil drug!" before doubling over moaning and leaking sadistically. Rarely has there been such a remarkable disconnect between the onomatopoeic connotations of a word and the practical application of same. "Alli" to me has a beautiful tone to it, almost beat in its playful nature, something that indicates a cosmopolitan air, someone who owns something in Tuscany, not someone who lives every day in fear of showering his immediate neighbors with oily, loose stools.
The drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline says -- and you cannot believe how much I'm not even making this up -- that wearing dark clothes and carrying an extra pair of pants might be a good idea. AN EXTRA PAIR OF PANTS. Where, pray tell, would one keep these reinforcement pants? The average purse certainly isn't large enough; the bulge would be a total giveaway. Carrying around a custom-made Pants Bag is probably overkill; it would be cumbersome, hardly stylish, and result in a constant flurry of idiotic questions, like: "What do you got in the bag there, Steve? Extra pair of pants? Planning on discharging something oily today?"
Alli's online message board, anticipating such an outburst, has already established an "Accident Support Group," whose members probably don't need also to apply to match.com. Here's just one question from the board: "adult diapers mandatory during first week?" It is always a party in the Accident Support Group.
But don't take it from me, let's hear from Joe Sixpack. Actually, in this case, Joe Sixpack goes by Rich Meyer, a resident of Burton, Mich., who furnishes a quote that stands among the best of what I hope you'll believe was an absolute GOLD MINE of comic glee to be found online regarding this drug; it was like the gusher at the beginning of "Beverly Hillbillies." Seriously, I started reading some of these quotes and found myself getting misty-eyed with joy. I live for these sorts of things, people.
Anyway, here's Meyer, after knocking down a sack of french fries: "The next morning it hit me. I was working on my line (as a cashier at Target) and just turned out my light and said I have to take a bathroom break. I wasn't asking. I was going." (A quick aside to Rich Meyer's friends: Please, for the love of God, never let this man talk to a reporter again).
Needless to say, Meyer's quote brings up a fierce discharge of questions of its own, such as, what is a Target cashier on a diet doing plowing down a bag of french fries, but whatever. More telling is a previous Meyer quote, in which he says, "I think it works two ways: blocking the fat, and you end up not wanting to eat fatty foods because you know what will happen."
Which brings me to my theory: Alli doesn't do anything at all, like nicotine patches and Alberto Gonzalez, but tricks people into believing that if they eat fatty foods, they'll be that guy at the party who really should have thought twice before putting on the white linen. And this is what it's come to; rather than give up the fries or go for a walk, Americans, in order to lose weight, must believe on some level that eating fatty foods will cause them to leave oily discharge wherever they sit. A 60-pill "starter pack" of Alli sells for $50; a 120-pill pack, $70. It would save time and energy to just eat the money. Less trans fats there, and though you may theoretically be consuming bacteria and filth and dirt from a thousand hands, it's not like they're going to give you loose stools.
Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer who giggled writing this whole thing. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com.