You Sold Me

In the strange land of reality and make believe I find myself a permanent resident. I like things to be real, yet twisted with an essence of lunacy--the happy kind. Smiling people holding up a bottle of toothpaste; smiling so wide you think a robber is behind them with a six shooter whispering, "Bigger! BIGGER!" And I like catch phrases. Words that aren't cute, but punchy with power forced into each syllable so that when you repeat them, you feel like pop rocks are exploding in your tonsils.

Lately I find myself recalling all those stupid, cheesy songs and images from my youth which told me--on a constant basis--to get my teeth whiter, hair shinier, hands softer, and breath fresher. I could recite them all, almost, if time hadn't crumbled away their perfection like the salt water on the Titanic's railings. So . . . I turn to youtube. Of course. And there they all are; a bell-ringer from my youth, standing on the street corner echoing my very memories.

"I drink Dr. Pepper and I'm proud, cause I'm part of an original crowd . . . OH . . . He's a pepper, she's a pepper, we're a pepper, they're a pepper, wouldn't you like to be a pepper too?" I wanted to be one so bad. That guy dancing around in his white leisure suit with everyone following around made me want to leave home and join immediately. Maybe it's an unsatisfied conscience, but I still love Dr. Pepper. And there never will be a better way to drink it than when it comes out of a frosty, cold, green-tinted glass bottle from Mr. Kuhn's grocery store.

"Ring around the collar! Ring around the collar!" What pressure, what immaturity! Taunting some poor housewife with Mary Tyler Moore hair about how her husband's freshly laundered shirts are less than perfect. No wonder women went out and got jobs. It was easier to work than wash stuff. Plus, talking shirts are a serious sign of mental decay. Time to get out of the house.

I love old car ads, the muscle-ey the better. And candy ads. But cereal ads will always be a permanent part of my youth, with that poor Trix Rabbit never getting to eat any of the products he had to hock. And those Life kids exclaiming, "He likes it! Hey Mickey!" Kellogg's Corn Flakes always had an organic, sunny quality to their commercials. The day was new, the corn had been harvested . . . time to eat a nice, golden bowl of Corn Flakes. But hurry up after you pour the milk because the flakes get soggy in two seconds!!!!!!! We used to eat Grape Nuts a lot, due to Mom always finding ways to keep us healthy. Those things were like gravel, but they tasted okay after half a bag of sugar. My favorite cereal was Lucky Charms. Perfect combination of wholesome wheat, and sugary symbols that asked you to believe in magic people and faraway lands. "I just ate a blue diamond!" "So what, you're still an idiot." My revenge was to sneak down to the kitchen before everyone else had gotten up, and dig into the bottom of the box for that one little prize. Sometimes it was a cool toy like a little car or doll. Most of the time it was just a paper thing that you had to use your brain to put together. It sure made my brother and sister mad when they got up and searched through that box only to find nothing there. Cereal revenge is always the best way to go.

"Ho ho ho, Green Giant!" Was it just me, or was that giant just a little bit frightening? I mean, if I was walking through some fields and saw him standing there with his arms across his chest, I'd freak.

Then there was Charlie Tuna. "Sorry Charlie!" Yeah, sorry we're about to eat you. How does one reply to that? "Oh, it's okay. I hope I taste good."

Mr Wimple had a tough job, always having to make sure no one squeezed his precious Charmin. Kind of annoying, and anal. "Please don't squeeze the Charmin. Please don't squeeze the Charmin!" Okay, how about you go check you stock boys and let me buy some darn toilet paper. That character was similar to the Daylight Donuts guy. "Time to get up and make the Doooonuts." Poor guy. I always felt kind of sorry for him, but the second a glazed donut fell into my hand it all made sense.

So, this was my youth and formation of every thought process I hold dear. It's very possible that in the distant future I will be following my grandchildren around reciting all the jingles and taglines of my childhood, like a nun repeating Hail Mary's. "Here, Charles, have a Coke, and a smile." "Put these in the Glad trash bag over there, they're Glad tough!"

I won't mention how disappointed I am in most modern commercials, you probably already know. There's something hollow about the way they try to sell something I have to buy anyway. That was the great thing about old ads, they knew we needed it, but they wanted us to LIKE it. It was to be part of our whole existence so that, walking down the street, we couldn't hold in the enthusiasm any longer. "I love Jello!!!!!!"

Sadly, kids these days will remember one thing from today's ads: side effects.


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