Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 5-27-13
Big Timber, Mont.
Humans are endlessly and marvelously inventive, creative, ingenious and inspired — to mention a few admirable qualities. Often those very same intelligent beings can be supremely stupid. What am I talking about? I’m speaking of the hyping, hard-selling, pitching, coaxing, wheedling, persuading, sweet-talking, cajoling, charming, enticing, twisting-the-arm advertisements babbling about aging, libido, shortcomings, hair loss, self-esteem and other sad circumstances way too numerous to mention. Endlessly entertaining hyperbole has been around since Adam was a dude and Eve was a dudette. Hogwash, like fungus, never dies.
A hundred years ago, if a feller (let’s call him Hank) worried about his bedroom skills he could go to the Sears, Roebuck catalog and order an Electric Belt. Battery operated, all he had to do was strap it on, push the buttons and let the electric jolts jump-start his deficiency. These belts ranged in cost from $4.00 for a “starter” belt (money back if not satisfied) to a whopping $18.00. The following blurb — including punctuation — is straight out of a 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalog.
For only $18.00 we offer the Genuine 80-Guage Current Heidelberg Alternating Self Regulating and Adjusting Electric Belt as the highest grade, very finest electric belt ever made, as the only successful electric belt treatment, as the most wonderful relief and cure of all chronic and nervous diseases, all diseases, disorders and weaknesses peculiar to men no matter from what cause or how long standing.
Fast-forward a hundred years. The baloney in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, ads on television, on radio, on billboards, pop-ups on Internet — nothing has changed except the style and syntax of the hyperbole which is to say — like politics and politicians — medicine shows never close and bull-slingers never shut up.
Let’s say a gal (call her Sally) falls for the twaddle titled “hormonal imbalance,” supposedly a condition which causes hot flashes, sleeplessness, irritability, night sweats, menopause, perimenopause, cravings, anxiety, low libido, weight gain or just feeling ‘off.’
For a monthly wad of dollars, Sally can buy TrueHogwash Medicine Show magic pills to cure her of all of the above plus hang nails, zits, in-grown toe nails, corns, flat feet and — indubitably — her lack of love life.
What if Sally is of the more mature persuasion? No problem. For a similar wad of purse-emptying moola, she can purchase “TrueHogwash Anti-Aging Cream.”
Its powerful anti-wrinkle formula boasts six skin-rebuilding essentials and contains 11 ingredients described as the most effective in improving skin tone, texture and appearance. Unlock the science of anti-aging and unlock the secret of a younger-looking you with TrueHogwash Anti-Aging Cream.”
Sally, meet Hank. Hank, meet Sally. Maybe you can both get lucky. ❖