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If there's one thing these weird warning labels can teach us, I'd be surprised




First, a disclaimer: I'm not connected in any way to Center for America (CFA), previously known as M-LAW. However, I do applaud — and enjoy — their work. In years past, and even today, CFA Senior Fellow and Wacky Warning Label contest creator Bob Dorigo Jones has worked feverishly to alert folks to the dangers of devices such as a toilet brush that might skin up the very tender flesh between a person's butt cheeks. Of course, that toilet brush came with a warning: "Do not use for personal hygiene." Warnings such as these were meant to shut down — or at least lessen — the number of frivolous lawsuits that rise from the elevators of Hell.

Dear readers, I would've notified you earlier, but this year's Wacky Warning Label announcements came out back in May, when I was super-busy pulling the legs and heads off my cicada herd, so they couldn't come back, no matter how hard they tried. I'll try to do better next spring.

Once a year, I truly enjoy bringing attention to the poor cursed-from-birth folks who shoot themselves in the head with nail guns, do their own dental work with high-speed rotary tools, run over their own feet with lawn mowers, and earnestly believe they can get out of Bonnaroo unharmed.

Now, let's get down to business. This year's Wacky Warning Label contest includes a dust mask with the following warning: "This respirator does not supply oxygen." The respirator in this case isn't really a genuine good-for-your-health respirator. It's a dust mask, the kind of thing that keeps dust out of your nose and mouth, if you go to the trouble of running a little duct tape around the edge of the "respirator." And don't you know, there's a warning: "Do not use in atmospheres containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen." How many folks, I wonder, will actually go out and search for a nice quiet little place that is blessed with 19.5 percent or more oxygen.

And there's this: a warning to bicyclists, via a nice color brochure, that "the action depicted in this brochure is potentially dangerous. The riders seen are experts or professionals." Problem is, the "expert" and "professional" riders are shown riding bikes with training wheels, and the riders look to be, oh, about 10 years old. Good news is, they are wearing helmets.

Another full-color warning shows a pen, with its cap separated from the pen's body: "Pen caps can obstruct breathing. Keep out of mouth."

You people who are thinking about putting a pen cap in your mouths, please reconsider. Nothing good happens when you drop a pen cap down your trachea.

Here's another warning: "Avoid drowning. Remove safety cover from spa when in use."

Now I'm confused. Seeing as how a lot of spa users are already too drunk to sit in a tub, should the spa user remove the cover from the spa before he or she climbs into the spa, or after? I could see trouble brewing either way. Just to be extra cautious, I say drain the spa and fill it with plastic wiffle balls.

Here's my vote for the topper for this year's CFA Wacky Warning Label Contest: It's an open case, which looks like an ordinary day planner, shown in an advertisement, and called a "conceal carry case."

There's a pistol and a clip in the case, and this warning: "This is not a functioning planner."

I don't mean to be harsh. I've done stupid things myself. For instance, when I was 12, I pointed my Benjamin pump pellet gun at my foot (well, my boot actually) and shot myself, just to see what it would feel like. Don't you know, it hurt like the devil, and I hoped it would hurt me enough to keep me out of the Army. My foot hurt for days and days, and it still hurts when I think about it.

I wouldn't shoot myself in the foot again, but when I was 12, no warning would've stopped me. I knew there was a chance of shooting my middle toe off, but I pulled the trigger anyway.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it: With the same Benjamin pump, I shot a hole into the Jowers kitchen ceiling, just to see what would happen. Every now and then, a boy just has to give in to an urge, no matter what the professionals in the brochure are doing.


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