When I’m in Charge (Part 2): Infomercials, Dictators, CEOs, and Other Bloodsuckers

Posted on May 17, 2011


I hesitate to tamper with an already-fragile economy, but let’s face it: We have enough gadgets that chop vegetables. A new one appears about every six months, and the infomercials always make it sound as though we’ve all been subsisting on potato chips and jelly beans because no one can manage to cut up a carrot or slice a cucumber without rolling their eyes, screaming in frustration, or collapsing with fatigue. The truth is, we could chop vegetables with a sharp stick if we had to. For this reason, advertising will be prohibited for any device that claims to eliminate the unbearable drudgery of making a salad.

I will be issuing a similar ban on exercise equipment designed to produce rock-hard abs, yogurt products with the word biotic in their ingredients, and all merchandise being endorsed by someone whose primary skill is kicking a ball or running really fast.

In addition, there will be no more commercials for medications with side effects that include internal bleeding, blurred vision, thinning bones, high blood pressure, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, and sudden loss of sensation in the extremities, or which may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. These endless lists of warnings do nothing but frighten and confuse people, and are there only to help the pharmaceutical companies defend against lawsuits. Besides, if we were to consider the full range of possible adverse effects for every drug on the market, everyone in the world should already be dead.

Radio and television ads will also be pulled off the air if any of the following conditions are met. They:

• feature actors who haven’t worked in more than five years
• include a telephone number that’s been set to music
• are shown more than twice in any thirty-minute period or ten times on any given day
• use some version of the Twilight Zone theme
• describe fungal infections in any detail
• are so loud they cause my neighbor’s dog to bark
• annoy me for any reason at all, but especially if they contain unnatural dialogue, such as:

“You know, Honey, I was just thinking that we should head on down to Harry’s Honda. They’re offering low finance rates on a wide range of new and pre-owned vehicles.”

“I agree! And their service department is friendly and knowledgeable. But we’d better hurry, because Harry’s Honda, located just off exit 16 and across from Home Depot, is practically giving those cars away!”

On a more urgent note, war will be forbidden. This is not to say that global peace is a realistic goal, or that humans everywhere will learn to love each other. We couldn’t handle that kind of boredom. But the vast majority of the world’s people have no interest in war. They just want some food on the table, a warm place to sleep, and to be left alone. For the handful of individuals intent on attacking other nations, we will train skilled kidnappers who will snatch the offending leaders and take them to an artificial crater now being dug in eastern Utah. This depression, three miles in diameter and nine hundred feet deep, will be called the Bowl of Remorse, although I have no doubt it will soon come to be known by some less formal name, such as The Hole, because people like slang.

The Bowl of Remorse will be used to isolate dictators, terrorists, Internet scammers, and the chief executive officers of most large corporations. I’m also thinking about including the people who keep sending me those subscription renewal notices. (They may be about to learn what “Time is running out!” really means.) And while we’re at it, let’s throw in anyone who ruins my favorite foods by adding spinach for no good reason. And the people who put stickers on fruit. And magazine editors who keep showing us pictures of pregnant women and their naked stomachs. And political leaders responsible for foreign policy who can’t pronounce the word nuclear, or insist on referring to Africa as a country. And business owners who star in their own television commercials and don’t exhibit any awareness of how unimpressive they seem. And people who eat lunch in their cars, then leave the garbage on the ground and drive away. And people who don’t wait their turn. And the people responsible for creating, packaging, and marketing teen idols to such a degree that otherwise non-violent consumers are driven to the edge of homicidal insanity. And people who have dinner at restaurants, then sneak out without paying. And Al Gore.

Airport security needs to be consistent. I went on a trip recently that took four flights, and no two experiences with security were the same. In one, we had to stand sideways, look into some kind of screen, and hold our hands with our thumbs touching our temples and fingers splayed straight out. It was the exact gesture we used as kids when we wanted to taunt someone. I didn’t understand its meaning even back then, yet pretending to be a moose has now been discovered to somehow make air travel safer. One problem is that every passenger has to be told how to do this, because they’ve never done it before, at least not in the last thirty or forty years.

The process of getting through security and onto the airplanes will be faster and smoother when everyone knows what to do. My plan is to eliminate body scans, shoe removal, and the other physical contortions. Instead, all passengers will be asked to lip-sync one line from the Gettysburg Address and present a short performance involving shadow puppets. Neither of these activities has any point, but neither does the moose impression, and it might help ease the tension a bit.

We have to do something about mosquitoes once and for all. I don’t kill anything unless it’s trying to bite me or suck my blood, or it’s put spinach into my food. But mosquitoes are going to be the end of us unless we start worrying a little less about the chemicals in the spray and a little more about worldwide plague. Some say eliminating one organism upsets the balance of nature and can cause a domino effect. I don’t really see the dominoes falling too far with this one. If we get rid of mosquitoes and the mosquito-eating bats die out in the process, well, we’ll just have to live without the bats. They don’t seem to be doing their job anyway.

As technology saves us more and more time, people are becoming increasingly stressed. Everyone is so busy texting, emailing, and tweeting, no one has time to visit their grandmother three blocks away or say hello to their next-door neighbor. My solution to this problem will be to add an entire new day to the week. I’m thinking it will be inserted between Sunday and Monday. The new day will not be given a name, because as soon as we begin to call it something, we will also begin to fill it up with chores, appointments, and soccer practice. It will quickly become just another day crammed with pressing demands. By letting it remain nameless, people will tend to avoid it. It’ll be too much trouble to say, “Why don’t we get together to sign those contracts on the day after Sunday? No, not Monday, the day before Monday. Yes, the nameless one in between.” More likely, people will just say, “How does Tuesday look?” This will leave an entire twenty-four hour period with nothing to do. In fact, anyone caught doing anything on that day will be taken to the Bowl of Remorse.

And let me remind you: the Bowl of Remorse is in Utah. And Al Gore will be there.

Posted in: In Over My Head