Don’t super-size me

The new biggie world is hard to swallow

It’s not a small world after all.

It’s a biggie world, an upgrade world, a grande, new and improved world. Order a combo meal at a fast-food chain and you likely will be invited to go large for only a few cents more.

Get a pizza at most places and a large is what used to be a small. You want the large you remember as a kid? Gotta get an extra-large, maybe even an extra-extra large. A small? Not sure they exist anymore.

The Tall coffee at Starbuck’s is really the second-smallest offered, well behind the Grande and Venti in size. The Big Gulp at 7-Eleven, which certainly sounds daunting enough, is dinky compared to the 64-ounce Double Gulp, a kiddie pool in a cup.

Order a movie-theater popcorn and some bored-looking kid behind the counter will tell that for a bit more scratch you can have enough popcorn to feed Galt.

Upgrade it, man. Make it bigger. I once rented a car from Hertz over the phone. When I went to pick it up I was urged to upgrade my sensible Buick LeSabre for—you guessed it—a sports-utility vehicle, the upgrade on wheels, the mini-home on the road.

Even the post office is in on it. “You know, for $1 more, that will get to Baltimore on Thursday instead of July. Any commemorative Bugs Bunny stamps today?”

It even extends to the medical world. Go to an optometrist salesperson and you will likely in the process of getting an ordinary pair of specs be asked if you want the tint, scratch-coating and flexi-frames.

“I’m buying glasses here,” I offer weakly. “Not aluminum siding.”

Perhaps most unnerving, my neighborhood is super-sizing. I live in tranquil, bucolic River Park, an older hood whose 1950s charm is slowly being undermined by multistory McMansions that are replacing the distinct one-stories. I guess bigger houses are needed for all the super-sized people and their super-sized stuff.

Being asked to upgrade, get an additional warranty, etc., is obviously done to—surprise—make money—to cash in on our impulsive side.

Want extra cheese on that? No.

Sprinkles? No.

Terri Hatcher? (Um … maybe …)

The only thing worse than upgrades is the dreaded “new and improved” label. (“And all this time,” you tell yourself, “I have been using the old and crappy. Damn.”)

According to online medical writer Sandra Levey, the new-and-improved products this year included:

Children’s Tylenol with Flavor Creator. Apparently some kids cavil at the horrors of taking a regular kiddie Tylenol. This version “provides flavor packets that parents can add to their children’s medication as an enticement. Flavors include apple, bubble gum, chocolate, and strawberry.” (Valium for mom not included if your kids are this wimpy.)

Unilever has introduced Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Body Glow. “In addition to moisturizing skin, the product adds a touch of tan to the wearer.” (Film at 11 …)

From Personal Products comes a spray lubricant called KY Sensual Mist. (Yeah, but can it lube a casserole dish and the sheets à la PAM?)

Gillette Fusion and Gillette Fusion Power shaving systems recently joined the NASCAR-sounding shaving world. “The razors include a five-blade shaving surface on the front of the blade cartridge and a precision trimmer blade on the back.” (Another year, another highfalutin “shaving system.” And all this time I have been shaving with Windows XP.)

Pfizer, Inc. is unveiling Less Intense Equally Effective Vanilla Mint Listerine. (This one I can kind of see: “Replaces traditional intensive cat-urine-flavor Listerine.”)

Aquafresh White & Shine toothpaste is new from GlaxoSmithKline. “The dual-action gel both cleans and polishes the teeth.” (Guess I will have to toss my Aquafresh Dingy & Dull.)

Unilever is “changing the face of soap and other beauty items with Dove Cool Moisture, a beauty line that has a scent of cucumber and green tea.” (“Forget lovemaking tonight, honey. Suddenly I am in the mood for a salad.”)

All this super-sized, new and improved-ism makes one ponder the possibilities. The next thing you know people will be shot and will riot over the latest version of PlayStation.