This summer has been a struggle for me, as I have been trying to watch as much daytime television as is humanly possible, and I’m pleased to announce that I have succeeded.
I can hear you thinking to yourselves (as opposed to thinking to someone else), “Why would this muttonhead want to sit around and watch television all day?” Well, can you think of anything else to do in Lake Elsinore, aside from spraypainting EYC on the walls? Then don’t ask silly questions.
The first show I’d see in the morning was “The Price is Right,” which is by far the most ridiculous waste of a viewer’s time since Illiterate Week on “Wheel of Fortune.” My mother tells me that I used to love the show when I was a small child of little intelligence, and that my first phrase was, and she quotes, “Bob Barker.” But I don’t believe her.
The thing about that show that bugs me the most, aside from the rampant overuse of enormous price tags, is that the aforementioned host gets a standing ovation each day. It’s a sad commentary on the state of this country when a game show host gets a better reception than the president.I can hear you thinking again. “Why does this cretin watch the show every day if he hates it so much?” Would you rather I steal your car and drive it into (or perhaps onto) the lake? Then leave me alone.
After “The Price is Right,” I’d flip through the channels, occasionally landing on the Spanish Channel, which only broadcasts goony soap operas, or “novelas” (Spanish for “goony soap operas”). Two of the titles are “Simplemente Maria” (“Simply Maria”), “¿Que hora es?” (“What time is it?”), and “Nadie Sabe lo que Estamos Hablando, pero Miran no Obstante” (“Nobody Knows What We’re Talking about, but They’re Watching Anyway”). If you listen closely to these programs (and I can’t imagine why you would), you’ll hear such common Soap Opera Statements as “¿Que si tu esposa vuelve a casa?” (“What if your wife comes home?”), “No Emmy para Susan Lucci este año” (“Susan Lucci loses again”), and “Tu madre es una llanta punchada” (“Your mother is a flat tire”).
The best part of daytime television is the commercials. There are the ambulance-chasing lawyers (“Larry Parker got me 2.1 million, so I can afford to talk like a moron”), the motorcycle lawyers (“John Reilly and Associates got me $175,000, even though it was totally my fault because I was drunk driving backwards down a one-way street without my corrective lenses, a valid driver’s license, or a brake pedal”), and the truck driving schools (“At Dootsen Trucking Academy, we’ll teach you foul words you never knew existed!”).
And then there’s everyone’s favorite: the Life-Alert commercials featuring Mrs. Fletcher. Life-Alert is a handy device for the elderly and/or accident prone that you wear on your wrist. If something terrible happens where you need immediate assistance, you simply push a button on it (assuming your emergency isn’t that you’ve accidentally sawed off the arm with the Life-Alert on it) and talk into it, and the people at the other end make jokes to one another about what the old duffer on Elm Street has done to himself this time. Eventually, they send the paramedics.
What’s so funny about this commercial is that the woman in question, Mrs. Fletcher, is perhaps the worst actress in the world, with the possible exception of Baby Michelle on “Full House,” but even she has her moments. If the commercial were realistic — if she were laying on the ground in a pool of some kind of fluid with tears of helplessness streaming down her cheeks and making the pool even larger — why, then it would be cruel to make fun of her (which doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t). But as it is, she is lying in a pool of groceries and saying, “I’ve fallen…and I can’t get up!” in a manner that would only elicit sympathy from persons possessing I.Q.’s equal to bricks.
Fortunately, school has started, so I don’t have to watch this idiocy anymore. Just in time, too. I was about to hang my pants low on my hips, put my hat on sideways, and join a gang, which would have been more boring than Bob Barker, to be sure.
Such a hopelessly insular columns, with jokes that only people who watched daytime TV in 1990 would understand -- and a few of the jokes only apply to Southern California daytime TV. I won't even bother trying to explain them all.
You may recall that Mrs. Fletcher and her famous "I've fallen and I can't get up" were the subject of many jokes back in those days, but I would like to point out that I was among the first to make fun of that commercial in public. Or at least I would have been -- if that part of the column hadn't been taken out when it was published. I assume this was because the editor felt it was in poor taste, which it may have been, but I never found out for sure.
Oh, yeah. There were gangs back then. They called themselves "EYC," which stood for "Elsinore Young Classics." They spray-painted everything, which was pretty much their only gang-related activity. No one was ever really afraid of them.