Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Like Wine & Cheese

Well, I am already 1/52nd of the way to 45 and I still do not feel a day older than 43. The first week has been pretty uneventful. If the next fifty pass in as unspectacular a fashion, I can do 44 years old standing on my head. Considering I spent part of Sunday falling on my ass while attempting to run on my feet, standing on my head does not really sound too bad after all. A nice change of pace. Really.

Since I was out of the room when they passed out the wisdom side salads that accompany the main entree of age, I remain child-like in my fascination with things that I do not completely understand. "Such as?", you ask. Well, I am happy you asked. Let me share.

Margaret is a smoker. It takes something hardcore, such as the flu or pneumonia, to keep my wife from putting a cigarette in her mouth. While I know not whether she would admit it or whether she is even cognizant of it, she seems to smoke more than usual when she is feeling stressed out by one thing or another. No secret there as I understand it. Apparently stress is one of those things that prompts folks who smoke to light up. I am a non-smoker but I grasp the concept.

Riddle me this then Batman. How is it possible that Barack Obama gets himself elected President of the United States as a cigarette-sneaking, nicotine-chasing fiend and THEN is able to quit smoking? I saw a piece in the New York Times yesterday that the First Lady told a gathering at the White House that he last smoked approximately a year ago. Get elected to the most stressful job on the planet and then kick the habit. While I am happy for him, given that he is a young man and he and the Missus are the parents of two young daughters, I worry that I have seen this film before and know how it ends. No one in the audience at the gathering apparently asked Mrs. Obama if the President's abstinence had withstood his Super Bowl Sunday conversation (to give that world its broadest possible definitional meaning) with Baba O'Reilly. If it did and if he is midway through another week with his suckometer still functioning properly, then I would appreciate it if he could share his secret for success with my wife. I voted for McCain but I will gladly take help in this battle anywhere I can get it......including 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As I get older, I find that I have no greater interest in automobiles than I did when I was a boy, which is to say not much at all. Schiff, I apologize profusely for my apathy. I would point out as well that my status as a "non car guy" does not mean that I do not know where one can buy or lease a truly fantastic vehicle. I am never more acutely aware of my limitations in the car-buying arena than I am on Super Bowl Sunday. It seems to me as if at least one-third of the spots this year were - as they always seem to be - car commercials. Car commercials fascinate me and beguile me for a number of reasons.

First, because no matter what the car is that is being advertised, the manufacturer of it displays it as if it is the hottest, hippest ride in the world. KIA had a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl designed to make the car-buying public think that one of its new sedans was the object of some sort of intergalactic tug-o-war and a Native American prayer chant or some such thing. Was I the only person watching at home thinking, "Aliens travel millions of light years to get to Earth so they can steal our KIA?" before bursting into laughter. I take on faith that it is a well-made, reasonably affordable, not hideous-looking car. But it is what it is. It is a KIA. Not a Jaguar. Not a Mini. Just how much alcohol does KIA's advertising department think is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday? Quite a lot apparently.

Second, because car commercials always contain the disclaimer, "Professional Driver. Closed Course. Do Not Attempt." I have long admired the gumption of an industry that peddles its wares via the "forbidden fruit" approach. This is especially so in the spots that show the car in question doing nothing that from my den appears to be the least bit extraordinary. A few years ago, Nissan had a commercial for its Pathfinder that showed people using their cars in lieu of ponies to play polo. In that scenario, I completely grasped why their legal department slapped the "PD/CC/DNA" tag on it. And I was happy that I saw it flash across the screen when I did for it saved me the embarrassment and inconvenience of driving to Efinger's to see whether they had any polo equipment in stock.

It is when the "PD/CC/DNA" disclaimer appears during a spot when the car appears to be doing nothing other than doing what one purchases a car to do that I scratch my head. Wild stuff such as going straight while being driven in a wide-open space. I drive a lot for work. I am by no means a "professional driver". Yet Skate and I spend a great deal of time doing things such as driving straight - usually without incident. Attempting things that car manufacturers of every nationality tell us we are not to dare without ever telling us why. Rule breakers are we.

-AK

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