Monday, April 6, 2009

Miss Scarlet, In The Bedroom, With A Tube Of Toothpaste

Not everyone is good at solving them, but most people seem to enjoy watching, or reading, or acting out, a good mystery. There's a beaut of one currently under investigation in Germany's capitol city, Berlin. A man there was reportedly spotted trying to leave a supermarket with a suspicious bulge under his coat. When a store employee grabbed him, 68 tubes of toothpaste fell to the floor. The thwarted thief punched the clerk, and in the confusion made his escape. His whereabouts, according to Reuters, remain a mystery. But far from the only one.

For instance, what does someone do with 68 tubes of toothpaste? Is he planning a massive "brushing" party? Could he be a dentist, stocking up to give free tubes to his patients? Or is there some darker purpose to his theft?

Before you laugh that theory off, consider a recent episode of the frighteningly-popular TV series, "CSI"; while performing an autopsy on a woman who had died of unknown causes, a "minty odor" was discovered in her stomach, along with an unknown green substance. Turned out the green stuff was fluoride toothpaste. The criminologists first theorized that the woman's husband had attempted a fairly clever crime with an unlikely murder weapon. One of the "experts" pointed out that fluoride toothpaste, consumed in large enough quantities, could be fatal [it is known that, before fluoride's tooth-preservation qualities were discovered at the end of World War II, it was principally used in rat poison and other vermin-exterminating products]. It came out during the episode that the woman in question [a former dental assistant] had an ulcer, causing damage to the stomach lining that would somehow increase the risks. It was estimated that two tubes of fluoride toothpaste [14 oz. or so each] would be enough to kill an adult. (For the record, the woman decided to kill herself, and set up an incredibly difficult suicide method that involved her handcuffing herself to the marital bed [it was bondage night], swallowing the fatal tubes of toothpaste, then undergoing what was described as an excruciatingly-painful death. All this, we add, to frame her husband for the murder.)

So, is there anything to this theory? Well, maybe. After running a Google Search [how else would you research it?], the mainstream site WebMD had nothing on the issue, but there were more than a few other sites willing to chime in on the matter. And almost all of them caution their readers to avoid fluoride [admittedly, most of them advised parents to strictly monitor how their children used fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water; a few, however, expressed the view that fluoride was unsafe for any one. One site mentioned the "two tubes will kill an adult" ratio used in the TV program]. Don't get me wrong; I respect WebMD, but I found out about the link between artificial sweeteners and nerve damage on The 700 Club, a good year before it crossed over to mainstream media. If you need a new issue to worry about, I'm glad to help.
-Mike Riley