They told me it would be the same, I did not believe them.
They told me that I would not be able to tell the difference, I could.
They told me that I would love it, I did not.
The only reason why I got the innocent looking "zero" was because they were out of the normal, "some" mouth wash. The bottle claimed it did the same thing but with no alcohol and thus was less intense.
I carefully noted during my first use of the "zero" version that the liquid had a dubious creamy texture to it. It made me seriously question the cleansing power of the purportedly marvelous mouth wash. Could it really be as good while feeling like my mouth was being in a protective coat that "some" did not leave?
Perhaps I told myself, perhaps.
Maybe, the creamy feeling was like a wax coat that protects a car from damage. Maybe, the film would help keep the bad stuff from eating my teeth.
Maybe, but I was still doubtful.
Eventually the store got the old kind of mouth wash back in. I was tempted to buy a new bottle, but what would I do with the partially used old one? Pour it down the drain? I could hardly stand the waste, especially since I was already a quarter of the way into the bottle. "I can manage to finish this off," I told myself.
Thus entered the self deception; no longer were they trying to convince me of anything, instead, I was doing all the convincing. It tasted the same as the other mouth wash. It did its job better than the old mouth wash. I did not need to feel the nasty burn of the alcohol. I was good with the protective coat that felt like a thin film of mucus embalming my mouth every morning. It was all good, every last bit of it.
As I inducted "zero" into my routine, I am sure they thought they had me. I even thought it was a glorious new feeling. I need not fear breathing into a roadside breathalyzer (not that I ever have before). I need not fear suspicious looks when I breathed too hard (no, I would still worry about if my breath smelled good or not). This, the "zero" was the good stuff in life. I had it, I used it and I loved it.
As the days moved on, I noticed that the bottle was slowly being depleted. While I delayed the question as long as I could, I knew I would eventually have to face it: would I replace the "zero" with "zero" or with the real stuff? I did not want to have to decide, not yet. "Zero" was so good to me; I did not want to kick it to the curb.
Though there was still a gentle nagging of disbelieve in the back of my mind: was it really as good? If it was, why did it take so long to get "zero" to market? Is the thicker, creamy "zero" fluid really just as good as the original? Why had they not switched all of their products to it?
Compounding these questions was the fact that I did not care enough to actually research any of them. This is, after all, mouth wash, not investment funds or a substantial enough purchase that mattered enough that I could justify spending some time, any time, doing some research in the differences between "zero" and "some."
I found that the fateful day was approaching quickly: the day I would run out of "zero." Projections indicated that I would run out sometime mid week and thus I would need to buy a new bottle in the next round of shopping lest I be caught empty handed.
The final decision was not as hard as I thought it would be. My heart jumped when I saw the "some," mouth wash sitting casually next to the "zero." My hand grabbed a bottle of "some" without thinking. I knew that I would not be using the new bottle for a few days so I thought little of it. "It is virtually the same thing anyway," I tried to tell myself, "no need to rush into the new bottle."
The projections were correct, it was on a mid week morning that I ran out of "zero." This meant that it was after dinner that evening that the "some" was busted out. I was curious about how I would take the original mouth wash. What if I hated it? What if "zero" really had been all it was supposed to be, and more? What if I missed the protective film?
I gave close attention to the sensations in my mouth as I tilted my head back and poured the liquid in. The difference was immediate: it was as if "some" (the original) was a light, thin fluid flowing in between every bud on my tongue and to every nook and cranny in my mouth. Where "zero" had feared to go, "some" did not care, in fact it cleansed with the fiery vengeance that only alcohol can bring. I had forgotten the burn, but as my eyes welled up with tears I began to remember. As I swished the liquid in my mouth, it felt so incredibly thin and agile, liked it wanted to go everywhere and get to everything, something that "zero" had been too timid to do. Even the burn felt good, not that I am a masochist, but there is a comfort in feeling that something is actually working instead of just hoping it is working, something "zero" made me take on faith.
As I spit the liquid into the sink I noticed that the film left by "zero" was not there. Instead, I was left with a clean, invigorated feeling mouth, as if my very pores had been cleansed. In the end, they were all wrong: "zero" was no substitute for the real thing.