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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Mystery in the Medicine Cabinet

So. I have a bathroom problem.

Hey, where are you going? It’s not that kind of bathroom problem, ya squeamish screwjob. This one involves vitamins. And counting. Or the lack thereof.

I’ll explain. And I’ll steer well clear of any toilet-related shenanigans. Probably.


We’ll see.

“One is a daily multivitamin that’s apparently “FOR MEN”, which I suppose means it’s full of iron and steel and motor oil sludge and Vitamin K for ‘Kickass’ or something.”

Anyway, here’s the thing. I take two sorts of vitamins, which I keep in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. One is a daily multivitamin that’s apparently “FOR MEN”, which I suppose means it’s full of iron and steel and motor oil sludge and Vitamin K for ‘Kickass’ or something. The other I also take daily; it’s a less-complicated — and evidently gender-neutral — supplement.

(All right, nosypants — specifically, it’s a bottle of fish oil pills for heart health.

I know, I know. At my age, I should probably be taking an entire slew of supplementary horse pills to ward off the various nightmares approaching. You probably think I should be gulping down arthritis relievers and hair ungrayers and testosterone boosts and MegaFiberMax and OsteoBoneGroBack and chewable fruit-flavored Alzheimers-B-Gone.

Also, you’re probably a smartass. Nice talk.)

Now, I take these pills every day.

Of course, that’s not “German every day”, which means “every single day at a regimented time, with utmost precision and cold efficiency”. Nor is it, say, “Japanese every day”, or “every single day, the better to maximize physical and mental capability and morph into some supercomputing sumo ninja or something”. It’s not even “North Korean every day”, namely “every single day, or they’ll throw you into a forced labor camp and I’ll bet you wish you had your precious vitamin pills now, eh, insolent pigdog, praise the Leader?”

Rather, it’s “American every day”, which is more like “most days, except on the weekends, probably, and occasionally when I forget or it’s a holiday or something and I’m busy lying on the couch in my underpants watching ‘Archer‘ reruns”.

The point is not when I take these pills, however. Nor how often, nor what flavor ice cream I’m scooping out of the tub with a spatula on lazy holiday afternoons.

(Though for the record, I’m partial to raspberry swirl.)

The point is this — when I take one of these vitamin pills, I always take the other. Without fail or exception. I may forget both, but never just one or the other. Both bottles hold the same number of pills — 200 count. And I start new bottles of each on the same day.

So why the hell do I keep running out of one before the other?

Every time I reach the bottom of one vitamin bottle, there are pills still rattling around in the other. Every time, I’m convinced it’s because i was out of sync the last time around, and kept the extra pills. And every time, I vow to fix the system, so I throw away the last handful of pills in one bottle, so as to realign to coordinated vitaminical harmony.

And every stupid time, I wind up with no pills in one bottle, and four in the other. Or two. Or nine. And I think I’ve gone nuts or sleepgulped or forgotten and kept the extra vitamins when I started the bottles.

(Because let’s face it, on the “American every day” schedule, 200 pills takes, what — three and a half years to finish? I can’t remember things that long ago. It’s not like I’m popping Geritol4Brains over here. Yet.)

But the last few times, I’ve been very careful. The bottles start out even. I make sure not to drop any pills, or accidentally swallow a two-fer, or anything like that. It’s a race from 200 to zero, and it should be a dead heat. But it’s not. It never is.

At first, I thought my wife might be taking the odd pill from me. Because she’s normal, and wouldn’t expect a thing like this to keep someone up at night.

But that doesn’t seem likely — mostly because she’s got her own stash of vitamins, which she keeps far away in the kitchen. And her multivitamin is specifically “FOR WOMEN”, according to the label, so I assume it’s pH-balanced and scented with lavender and compliments her on her slim and attractive esophagus as it slides down the hatch.

In other words, I’d be terrified to take one of her vitamins. I can only imagine she’s as insanely frightened of taking mine. She might grow hair on her testicles.

Also, she might grow testicles. I probably should have put that bit first. If she took my vitamins, she might grow testicles. And then grow hair on those. Both of which are bad, from a womanly point of view. I assume.


The point is, she’s probably not scarfing my multivitamins. And she’s got her own fish pills, too, which probably taste like chocolate or strawberries or a new pair of kicky heels, so there’s no need to come slumming for my fish pills in the medicine cabinet, which don’t taste like any of those things. They taste like nothing. Or occasionally, they taste like fish, which is when you really miss all those times they tasted like nothing.

(And then you wonder why the oil has to come from fish in the first place. Like, why can’t they squeegee the stuff off something tastier, like popcorn shrimp or Canadian bacon or Bar Rafaeli? I’m no nutritionologist. I’m just asking.)

It’s possible, of course, that there really aren’t 200 pills in each of these bottles to start with. I know, I know — if you can’t trust the advertising on a heavily-discounted off-brand drug store bottle of dietary supplement, then what can you trust? Still. It’s possible.

But what am I going to do, count all the pills before I start a new bottle? Please. Two hundred is a big number. It’s practically infinity, and who knows if I’d make it all the way there accurately once, much less twice. Counting that high is for other people — the accountants and fish pill sorters and door bouncers for particularly large clubs of the world.

So the problem remains unsolved. And right now, in my medicine cabinet at home, I have two nearly empty bottles. One with three multivitamins, and another with seven fish oil pills. I don’t know how it got that way. Some mysteries, I suppose humans just weren’t meant to solve.

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