Ad Nauseum

Tuesday is Election Day, which means the democratic process and its inherent beauty and drama are on the mind of every man, woman and child who works for a newspaper. The rest of the world, I think, doesn’t care.

Anyway, in the spirit of government and politics, I would like to propose a new law. You’ll notice that I am able to propose this law without littering signs that bear my name all over the city. For that alone, I deserve a Nobel Prize of some kind, perhaps in the field of Non-Littering.

Let me preface this proposed law by saying that I am not basing it simply on my own feelings and prejudices. There are many things I don’t like but wouldn’t dream of proposing laws against. For example, I’m opposed to anyone over the age of 10 going by the name “Jimmy.” This is clearly a child’s name and should be restricted for use only by children or retarded adults. But you don’t see me proposing laws about it.

Also, I would like to see a ban on same-sex divorces, because I’m tired of seeing all these fake marriages breaking up and making a mockery of the sanctity of fake marriage. (On what grounds would two men get divorced, anyway? “Irreconcilable differences”? Please. All men are the same. I assume that’s why they liked each other in the first place.)

So the law I’m proposing, which I believe I will be getting to within the next couple paragraphs, is one I feel would benefit not just myself, but many people, especially myself. It is this:

Television stations may not air commercials after 1 a.m.

The reason for this is obvious, even to the stupidest of voters. After 1 a.m., your judgment is impaired. You are not capable of discerning which products being advertised are worth your money and which ones are simply crap. For example, I recently found myself up and about at 2:30 a.m. watching infomercials. One of them was for an 8-CD set of “classic country music” — songs from the ’50s and ’60s. The total cost was something like $140.

Now, you should know that I am not a country-music fan, and not for any philosophical reasons, but simply on the grounds that it’s stupid and I hate it. So during the day, I would not even continue watching the infomercial, let alone consider ordering the set.

But at 2:30 a.m., I began to think: “You know, I like some of these songs. Johnny Cash was one classy singer back then, and Hank Williams had some good stuff. Plus, I consider myself something of a music aficionado (I always use words like that at 2:30 a.m.), and having this set would certainly add variety to my collection. If for nothing more than historical purposes, I should buy these CDs and become more acquainted with the roots of country music, which are the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, and indeed the cultural roots of my entire generation.”

Fortunately, I fell asleep before any serious damage could be done, but you see the danger I was in. Hence the need for this law.

I would also like to see commercials in general start making more sense. Halloween is coming up sometime this weekend (either Saturday or Sunday, depending on which state you live in), which means for the last couple weeks, we’ve been seeing stores say things like, “Our prices are so low, it’s scary!”

My question is, how low does a price have to be for it to actually frighten you? I can see being surprised, or even shocked, at a low price. But to actually be scared of it? You’re walking through the store: “Oh, that looks nice, I wonder how much that cos– oh, SWEET ANGELS OF MERCY!” And you clutch your chest, stumble backwards a few steps and cower in fear. “Honey, let’s get out of here. That price is so low, it makes me feel a dark, evil presence. I fear Beelzebub himself might be behind this sale.”

It seems counter-productive, really, to have prices so low that you’re actually scaring your customers. Anything that causes fear and panic among potential buyers seems like a bad idea to me. But I bet if I heard it at 2:30 a.m., it might sound more reasonable.

The reference to Halloween being on either Saturday or Sunday had to do with the fact that in Utah, a very religious state, all Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating, were held on Saturday instead of on Halloween, which was Sunday. Similar changes were made earlier in 1999, when the Fourth of July inconveniently fell on the Sabbath.

At one point, I wanted to write an entire column on same-sex marriages (and divorces). But that desire quickly passed, as I realized I had nothing to say on the matter beyond making the joke I made here.

There was the obligatory e-mail:

You're perspective on the BYU/Provo scene is pretty refreshing. Satire and sarcasm at the expense of any mentally retarded person is in extraordinarily poor taste. I'm surprised and disappointed that you went there.

This falls under the same old category as a number of other e-mails I've received: "You mentioned something in a humor column; therefore, you must be making fun of it." All I said about retarded people was that 1) they exist, and 2) "Jimmy" is a stereotypical name for them. I see it as no more offensive than pointing out that "Wong" is a common Asian name, or that many Hispanic people are named Jesus (there's PLENTY of humor to be had there).

Would I ACTUALLY make fun of mentally retarded people in my column? Meh, I don't know. I wouldn't put it past me. But I wasn't doing it here.