We have a brainstorming session on dandruff. Let me clarify that I never ask to be in these sessions. I do the normal stuff, paying invoices, mailing letters, calling couriers. But our marketing director likes to involve staff members “from all levels of the firm, from CEO on up.” We all know she means “CEO on down” and it’s her way of pumping us up. She also pumps us up by having caramel popcorn at the meetings, which was great the first time but it would be nice if she could throw a few potato chips at us from time to time.

At the brainstorming session, first we listen to the facts, because the marketing director says there can be no output without input. She informs us that there are about a hundred thousand hair follicles on your head. She lets that sink in, nodding her head around the room, watching us as if we might suddenly realize we’re not able to hold up the weight of that much hair. She tells us dandruff isn’t from skin that’s too dry. No sirree. It’s from skin that’s too oily. The oil makes the dead skin cells clump together. I picture a vat of skin cells in oil. It makes me shudder.

The marketing director asks for our visuals and I keep my mouth shut because although I have a visual of cartoon hair mites cooking up vats of skin cell oil stew, I never, ever want to see it on a TV or computer screen.

Too late, Marta suggests something similar, only her version isn’t animated and has leprechauns cooking the skin cells in a really oily casserole. Somebody suggests this might be racist somehow. Somebody else says to use scruffy old men instead, and another person suggests scruffy cooks, and yet another person says it needs to be cannibals because they’re eating human skin and somebody else says no that’s racist too.

I say what if you have a guy with dandruff on his shoulders and a girl is about to put her hand on his shoulder, sees the dandruff, and then doesn’t put her hand there? The marketing director says that’s very nice, thank you everybody. Later they make both versions for different markets, one with witches stirring vats of oily skin cell stew, and one with the guy and the girl.

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