This is a delicate subject, but one I need to touch on. I like baseball and now and then enjoy watching the Red Sox. When the occasional seasonal opportunity to do so presents itself, my wife and I settle in on the couch, perhaps with an easily portable dinner and a beer or two to watch at least a few innings before I fall asleep.
The delicate subject is the ads we’re exposed to as a price for watching, ads for a certain troubling dysfunction. In one of these—one the producers must think has been specially effective—a particularly virile looking man inexplicably drives his equally virile and manly pickup truck into a vast and—quite obvious it seems to me—muck hole, a hazard I think most of us would have recognized and avoided.
Not our hero, however. He is oblivious to obstacles of any kind because in every instance, we can tell from just looking at the manifest condescension in his smirk, he will have equipped himself with the means to overcome them. He is, after all, the consummately masculine role model we male viewers aspire to.
In this instance, for example, he has had the foresight to tow a horse trailer, complete with horse, and so leads the critter out and extricates himself from the mire.
The viewer wonders, watching the ad run its course, why he hadn’t simply detoured around the swamp, but never mind; now he is driving up to the house. He dismounts and gazes dutifully, not unlike an old veteran about to salute the flag, at the lights on in—we have by now presumed—the bedroom, his expression one of a man mindful of his duty and brimming with the same steely resolve that got him out of the muck hole.
He had the horse just in case and he has, we are reminded by the voice over, taken a certain medication just in case another wearisome obstacle has raised its head or threatens to do otherwise.
In another ad, a couple is tending to a little back yard barbeque for themselves when it begins to rain. They gather up stuff quickly and retreat to beneath an awning whereupon their eyes meet in mutual regard for the same thing and they move quickly inside to do what we all do when rain ruins a barbeque. Her eyes are full of “Did you by any chance?” and his are full of “Yes I did, in case it rained.”
I can’t get away from these ads—they accompany every ballgame—and I want to. I want to get away from them because they’re scary. The troubling thing about them is not the worrisome prospect that our hero may have mistaken Tylenol PM for the prescribed enhancement, leaving me to imagine her disappointment and his chagrin, although that’s certainly sobering. Rather, it’s the disclaimer at the end of the ad that describes the possible—and, in some cases, probable—side effects.
Among them are blindness, and this troubles me more than any of the others which include loss of memory, confusion, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, an upset tummy and a determined—but by now simply bothersome—appendage lasting more than three days. Imagine a fellow stumbling around for that long, who’s having trouble staying upright (if not up), whose balance has been compromised, whose spasms of arrhythmia impart an unmistakable urgency, who’s forgotten where he is or what he is supposed to do or whom to do it with but is nonetheless aroused and eager at the prospect and who is blind.
Phil Crossman lives with his wife Elaine on Vinalhaven, where he owns and operates the Tidewater Motel.