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Sunday, September 25, 2011

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors (Rough Draft…)
I admit it. I’m a complete sucker for TV ads and believe every one of those advertized“  as seen on TV” products  that I watch way more than I care to admit.  As ashamed as I am, I have maintained a supine position for hours on end with a belt full of electrodes strapped to my middle and exercised those flabby abdominal muscles into fits of rock-hardness.  It actually hurt, but isn’t that what fitness is all about?  Not to brag, but after each session I had such a voluminous, albeit frizzy,  mane of hair. I fully expected to wake up with an awesome eight pack and turned the dial to max to make it happen…like yesterday! Don’t blame me for being efficient and, yes, I am also the proud owner of “8 Minute Abs”.  My nagging curiosity will, at some point, propel me to remove the protective plastic from the VHS box. Why bother with the inconvenience of exercise when the exercise can be done for you? What was way more important than the nagging guilt of pure, unencumbered laziness was the fact that I was getting things done. Such clever multi-tasking meant that I could polish my fingernails and feed my brain with endless hours of Discovery Channel--all while feeling the burn. An added benefit was not having to wash sweat out of my hair everyday and utilizing effort in getting stains out of my shirt’s pits. But, alas, my enthusiasm for exercise, even the kind that I could do without actively participating, quickly faded as most of my hastily hatched plans do. I am a dreamer of dreams but, unfortunately, not a doer of do’s.  My grandiose ideas have a nasty habit of falling to the wayside and are constantly sliding to the bottom of my “to do” list like melted butter on a tilted skillet. 
 I hate falling into the pit dug by “the man,” but the advertisers have us by the bootstraps  and I simply have lost the fight to resist.  I’ve fallen victim to the “easy-peasy quick and easy” mindset, although I’m the first to decry the lack of initiative of the next generation.  If there’s a shortcut or a way around it, sign me up. It’s so simple, really, the creation of a lifestyle that will promote a long and happy life. I know it. Eat healthy. Don’t spend more than you have. Plan and organize. Great results require hard work. But, don’t they make a pill for that?
So, my inability to resist products is the fault of the advertiser who knows precisely how to appeal to my subconscious mind. It’s all very big-brotherish if you ask me, trying to maneuver around in our cerebral cortexes and frontal lobes while manipulating our little self-control  buttons.  I feel so used when I open up that bottle of “Sexy in a Second” and realize that I don’t immediately resemble the beautiful model on the commercial.
In some cases, the advertisement veers from mental manipulation to blatant lie. Case in point--those flex trashbags which resemble the cellulited flank of your Great Aunt Evelyn whose bikini-clad confidence exudes from her like a supernova. The commercial for this product would convince the viewer that not even the horns of an African rhinoceros could penetrate them. To demonstrate this amazing feat of brute garbage strength, a rhinoceros is actually attempting to buck the bag in the commercial. He tries with all of his rhinoceros might, but to no avail. Flex bag wins and I am immediately convinced that I must, as God is my witness, have those damn bags yesterday. Not only will they hold eternally captive the aroma of used kitty litter, but I can keep one in my car should a stray rhino attempt to gore me or my kids on the way to the mall.  Feuled with a newfound confidence and fearlessness , I toss my flex bags in the grocery cart and am momentarily tempted to put one around my neck to wear  like a cape in case the local PD needs backup. Bulletproof vests cant possibly hold a candle. Arriving back home, I rip open the bags of steel and tuck one in the glove compartment just in case.I stride into the kitchen with an air or cockiness unrivaled by even the sexiest of Calvin Klein models and place my new bag of steel in position. Into the bag go shards of glass, Ginsu knives, and diamond chips. As I lift the bag to admire this anomaly, a single shard of pointed glass breaks through the underbelly of my new flex bag and rips into my skin. The pain of the bloody incision  does not parallel the shame that this blatant deception has left within me. Ive been duped again. I even bought the economy size which was supposed to last for most of my natural life. And, what if I had planned to use one when I bullfight (it could happen)?  I would have been killed.
And, I’d love to know who named the newest acid reflux medication. It's called "Aciphex" and sounds like either a hemorrhoid cream or a cool decoration for the buttocks.  The sound of this product evokes images of butt “Poprocks” as I imagine feeling a sharp, invigorating crackle every time the cheeks rub together. What would happen, though, if I drank a carbonated beverage while using it? Marketing was obviously taste-testing the newest wine cooler when that brand came up for  labeling review. I can just imagine responding to the anesthesia nurse when he reviews the med list after giving me a shot of liquid happiness. I….take……….ACIPHEX.  Muuuhaaaahaaaaaa. AAAAASSSSSSSSSEFFFFECTTTSSSSS.
But wait, there’s more! The new Prell commercial is also a bit of a head-scratcher. I get trying to revive a product from 1975, but it's cheesy. If a shampoo needs to be resurrected from the 70’s, why not Beer on Tap? I used to feel naughty, yet so alive, when using it as a seven-year-old. What would happen if I accidentally drank it, licked my sudsy lips, or inhaled the foam?  I remember sitting in the tub for hours with "Beer on Tap" shampoo foaming atop my head whilst smoking candy cigarettes and drinking Sanka from behind a pair of Foster Grants. Oh the shame. Did I lock the door? Dare I grab mom’s round “Flicker” razor and live the viva loca?  Before wiping away the suds and sliding into my patchwork bellbottoms and crocheted vest, I DID squeeze the Charmin. Oh, Lord, I think I need an Anacin.

By the way, what is wood substrate? "The Man" is really trying to pull the wool over our eyes my consumer friends. If it's a shoe, call it a shoe! Now here’s a newbie--leather blend.  Really?  Is that like an engineered ruby or soy bacon? And what about Bengay? Enough said.

 But, there is hope in ad-land thanks to OB, the company that sells tampons which replace that scratchy plastic applicator with Mr. Pointer Finger. Corporate recently rejected an ad which depicted a male vampire with tampon fangs. So, there is hope for honest consumerism, although I would have definitely bought a pack of OBs for the hell of it and, yes, I would have walked around my house with cotton fangs just for kicks and giggles.

An industry that really gripes me is insurance sales.  Although these companies probably have mass prayer chains in the hopes that nothing bad will happen to you in order to save their all expense paid company retreat to the Grand Bahamas, I view them as the pit boss in the big gamble called Life. Their mantra sounds like this: “Go ahead and have a heart attack or an occurrence of cancer. We’re here to be your shelter from the storm. Really, you can count on us. But, if you so much as get a kidney infection after your three week stint in the ICU, then we’re gonna drop you like a bacteria ravaged poop.”  Understand that I love the insurance folks and know we can’t do without. But, when you have to anticipate the tragedy which might befall you and then buy a policy to match this given trauma is like healthcare roulette, the prize being dismemberment or organ failure. Yeah! After all, what are the chances of becoming an amputee versus a catastrauphic accident victim which requires a brand new face?  Frankly, your choices aren’t all cupcakes and sunshine and there’s not a magic 8 ball on the planet that can help in figuring it out. So, being that I tend to live in Happyville where absolutely nothing goes awry, I always opt for “none of the above”. But, friends, please stay on the lookout for a jar at the local convenience mart with my picture taped to the front, pitifully looking into the far distance with an expression of woe. Bypass the jar full of pennies supporting cat castration and throw your spare change in mine as I’m placing my bets on a life full of well-being and health, thereby forgoing the extra monthly premiums. If my peeps can just fork out enough g’s for a new heart or extra appendage should I need them, I’m golden.

Every year, my local educational unit makes all employees attend a meeting in order to update future planning needs. This equates to staring at a balding, thrice divorced, over 60 guy with a paunch and a gold chain who’s fashionably dressed in casual island wear.  He discreetly, yet confidently, scans the crowd of mostly she-folk in search of a potential date for Friday night’s Moose Lodge buffet. Emitting an occasional hack and obviously winded after each catastrophic description he relays, Insurance Man forgets that he holds captive an audience of teachers who haven’t had adult companionship for eight hours straight. Teachers, being big kids themselves, huddle instantly in cliques at the start of the meeting, sharing any gossip from the day while doodling pictures of rainbows and elephants. The more non-social of the group grade papers in the back pretending to pay attention via an occasional page turn and nod coupled with split-second eye contact. And, in the front row are either the elderly, newbies, or comformists who hang onto Insurance Guy’s every word while taking detailed notes in the margins of the booklet entitled, “You Can’t Take It With You…Planning for Your Untimely Demise.” Have a nice day. The front rowers glance smugly at the whisperers and gigglers who apparently have figured out in advance that their meager wages will be in the tip jar during happy hour at the local Mexican restaurant. Margarita anyone?
But, alas, Insurance Guy is obviously not equipped to address a crowd of female adult ADHDers at day’s end and makes a fatal mistake.  Apparently unappreciative of the fact that this little gathering have had few mind-numbing breaks from the constant tugging of little peeps, Insurance Guy makes a futile attempt to regain the attention of his audience by announcing, “Ladies, you need to hear this. So, pay attention.” Ouch. Yes he did. Unbeknownst to him, this room of teachers, save for the front rowers, are now mentally launching daggers into his nethers and are already calculating the hospital bill for which his firm will not be needed to fork out a copay.  The Aflac duck can kiss their collective hineys, thank you very much. The eyes of the poorly uninsured scream, “You are not the boss of us and never shall you be. We see the gray curly-cue hairs waving at us from beneath the herringbone and will reserve our love for the fund-raising guy. At least he gives prizes and takes the kids off our hands for a fun-enthused half hour presentation of empty promises”. As nerdy as he might be, at least fund-raiser guy has his own hair. So, cram that in your worn loafers Catastrophe Pit Boss, but come back and visit if a nagging cough or symptoms of a bacteria-resistant staph infection develop…just in case.

The prize, however, for adverlying goes to car dealerships and their obvious attempts at subliminal messages and sneaky, under the radar disclaimers which are spoken so quickly and quietly that only an elf on speed might decipher.  To illustrate, a marriage proposal in similar form might go something like this:

Guy: Will you marry me?
Girl: of course I will and I can’t wait for you to see my wide hip expanse after birthing five kids and that means no lovey lovey for you sweetie unless you want to work on number six but no kissing and by the way any extracurricular that you even think of maintaining after the I do’s will be permanently shut down and if you dare to plan an outing with the boys you had better clear it with me at least one month in advance but plan on taking the kids because I will probably have a raging headache and I could really care less that you want me to have dinner ready by 6:00 each evening because that ain’t happening and if you don’t want me using your razor then you’d better damn well hide it.

But, guess what Mr. Disclaimer Clad Manipulator of Visual Input? I plan to start extreme couponing soon. I’ve signed up for a class and, if my calculations are correct, the local Food Mart’s going to owe me $9.95 just for loading up on fifty boxes of Lemon Jell-O.  Plus, I’ll have enough croutons for a lifetime of salads. But, there’s always hope those ads will demonstrate a flicker of truth. After thirty years I still walk down the street hoping and wishing that someone will stop me to say, “Gee your hair smells terrific.” It could totally happen.