Read this column by midnight tonight ... reactions may vary

  • Nan Parati

Published: 2/11/2019 7:17:25 AM

Back over the holidays between the years 2018 and 19 (I’m still stuck on the holidays! A lot happened on that trip.) I visited my sister and brother-in-law who have what they call a “television” in their house. I used to own a device similarly called back in the 1990s, but mine was a small box that sat on a shelf and only spoke out occasionally. This thing my sister has in her living room is the size of a camel and just as obtrusive.

I remember my mom telling me that, back in the early days of radio, her visiting elderly aunt would instruct her to “Please run and tell Mr. Radio that it’s time to go home now.” I don’t think Aunt Eva quite got the newfangled concept of progress, but neither do I get the concept of a dromedary-sized Mr. Television who seems to only speak in commercials.

My brother-in-law likes watching old Westerns, and it’s possible that the commercials for those are geared entirely to the older set, but Lord Heaven, do they think we need some drugs in our lives. (I think they have us confused with our younger, more experimental selves, back in the 1960s.)

Sixty percent of the commercials start with a slightly-condescending-sounding woman asking something along the lines of, “Do your feet sometimes hurt when you walk? Painful feet can be a symptom of walking, standing around too long, stubbing your toe, or something else. And regardless of what it is, you should go to the worst possible scenario. If your feet hurt, ask your doctor about Clerytoxical.” (I just closed my eyes and hit a bunch of keys for that word, but that’s how they make up the real names of the medications, too.)

Drug commercials used to be about rational illnesses, but now I think they’re just making stuff up.

“Do you wake up, get out of bed and put your clothes on? Then ask your doctor about Dituseaphan. Getting up in the morning can be a symptom of Life, which may, in some cases, end in Death. If you are experiencing hunger, satisfaction, urges to work, desires for family or friends, relaxation and sleep, you could be missing out on something better.” (Video of family throwing sticks at a dog.) “Dituseaphan. For what you’re missing out on.”

And then a man says real fast: Side effects may include darkness, voices, walking toward bright lights, lots of fire, clouds, pearly gates, everlasting life, damnation or an eternal void.”

AND THEN! We go to the next 25 percent of the commercials in which two guys are sitting side by side with scuba gear over their heads, watching something together that isn’t there. But the two guys have been recreated inside their scuba headgear as Pixar-like cartoons, talking to each other as cartoons about what they’re watching that isn’t really there, but they really think it is. In one of these commercials, the director snuck in the guy’s gorgeous girlfriend, lying beside him in bed, watching him do this stupid thing with his friend, wearing scuba gear while he ignores her, she with a look of, “Are you out of your freaking mind?” on her face. (“Does your husband stay on his virtual reality device while you’re in bed with him? Then ask your doctor about a sledgehammer. That should do the trick.”)

The remaining 15 percent of commercials are for insurance companies and thank the Lord for those, as insurance companies have a sense of inventive humor and their commercials are generally worth watching.

And then you get six minutes of the show you turned the television on to watch in the first place, before that woman comes back to ask you, “Do you suffer from the urge to breathe?”

Yes! I do! I suffer from the urge to turn the commercial off and, listen: Birds outside. And otherwise, there’s blessed quiet.

(Side effects of turning off commercials may include daylight, nature, books, Vitamin D, exercise, friends and crossword puzzles. Ask your doctor before turning the TV off because we – apparently - make a boat-load of money from trying to scare you into buying drugs to replace all of those things.)

It’s time for Mr. Television to go home and take a nap. He will feel a lot better when he wakes up.

Nan Parati lives in Ashfield, by way of New Orleans. Her column appears every other week.


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