Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As American as Apple

A few months ago, a woman sat down next to me on the bus and began a conversation. Not necessarily with me, because at the time I had my headphones in. But, because it's the polite thing to do, I removed the earbuds and replied, just in case she had a legitimate question.

Soon I was engaged in what can only be termed as intermittent chit-chat, as she wandered from one topic to another. That is, until she zeroed in on the fact that most of the people who ride the bus are attached to their MP3 players and don't talk to each other anymore.

I commented that it's sometimes nice to relax with music after a long, stressful day at work. (Hint, hint, lady.)  What I didn't say was that digital music is probably the single best thing to happen to public transportation since air conditioning. Few things make me happier than being in a moving vehicle that I don't have to steer with some tunes and plenty of time to just think. I'm content for hours doing this. It's like meditation.

I also didn't tell her that I rode the bus for two years before getting my iPod, and I had approximately four interesting conversations during that period, none of which resulted in a new BFF. I have a 30-minute ride each way. In the morning, I'm tired. In the afternoon, I'm more tired. I don't want to have a gab session with anyone, least of all a recent immigrant from an African nation who's a bit preachy about Apple's ill effects on the general populace.

The woman then launched into a mini-lecture about how small towns are superior because people actually talk to each other, and how American cities have no sense of community. At this point, my customary Zen-like state had been permanently shattered by her yapping, so I responded that I originally come from a small town, and having some anonymity in the city is actually a nice thing. I didn't remind her that people in tiny communities don't just know each other -- they know each other's business. And unless things are drastically different on the Dark Continent, everybody's always up in that business, whether you like it or not.

She disagreed, of course, and insisted on passive-aggressively scolding me for giving in to the temptation of anti-social technology. Ironically, all I wanted to do during her speech was stick my headphones back in my ears. I probably should have, just to prove a point.

Thankfully, I didn't see her again for several weeks. And, when I did, no further rebuttal was necessary ... for she had succumbed to the sweet siren song of an undisturbed commute and had in her possession an MP3 player.

Welcome to America.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Dirty Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Let's review a couple commercials currently running on cable TV, shall we?

First, there's the spot advertising the Trojan Vibrating Touch fingertip massager. It features a group of women at a bridal shower. The bride-to-be unwraps the gift and expresses her delight at receiving one of these lovely toys. She then finds out that she's received multiples (no pun intended) of them, because her friends think they're so fantastic. Cut to her at home with her man. She says something like, "Honey, remember that massager I wanted? Well, we got THREE of them!" And he replies, for no discernible reason, "Sweet!"  What's wrong here:

A.  Why is a woman getting married receiving sex toys? It seems a slightly outdated idea that, until those vows are said, there has been no action between the sheets ... so WOW, here's something that's going to really knock your socks off in this new world of experimentation. Or maybe the message is "Prepare yourself for a lifetime of sexual stagnation ... here's a weapon in defense of ho-hum monogamy." I don't know. What I do know is that perhaps it would be more appropriate to give sex toys to people who really need them. Like your single friends.

B.  Is it weird to have someone wrap up a sex toy and give it to you with their glowing (pun intended) recommendation? Can you help thinking about that person every time you take it out of that drawer, or box under your bed, or hidden panel in your wall? I don't know. I've never gotten one as a gift. True friends, see A. Or maybe not. I can't decide.

C.  Why does the husband-to-be seem thrilled at the vote of no confidence that his wife's friends have given him?  He might as well have said, "Sweet! Now that my inadequacy has been addressed, I can quit worrying about pleasing you. Obviously I've never been even remotely close to satisfying you, since you think you need several battery-powered devices to do the job."

Second, let's talk about the commercial for the men's Shake Weight. If you aren't familiar with this product, it's basically a dumbbell with a kind of piston action that shakes the weight in your hand and (ostensibly) tones your arms through the process of "dynamic inertia."

So the TV spot features several shirtless, oiled up, very muscular men gripping a pumping rod in their fists and wearing an expression of pain (because it's so HARD!) mixed with pleasure (but it hurts so GOOD!)

In short, this is the gayest commercial I've ever seen in my life. And I don't use the term in a derogatory way. I mean literally fodder for endless homoerotic fantasies. Really gay. Like "Top Gun" volleyball-on-the-beach gay.

But here's the kicker. Toward the end of the commercial, the ripped guy in the little shorts is really having quite the intense experience with his Shake Weight. He's sweating, he's got a death grip on this thing, and when he finally can't take it anymore, he groans and exhales, "Ahhh ... that's it!"

Maybe the girl excited about the massager should just light some candles and watch the Shake Weight ad. And, judging by her future husband's enthusiasm for being relieved of duty (so to speak), maybe he should, too.