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McAbee: You are what ads you watch

Recently, a friend of mine broke his leg while skiing. For his sake, I can’t tell you exactly how it happened. It’s just too embarrassing. But, I stopped by his house the other day to see how he was doing. I walked into his house, football was on the television and his legged was propped up.

“Man, how many inches is that screen?”

“60,” he said and stared straight ahead.



“Wow. How’s it going?” I asked.

“Fine, except for all of these ridiculous commercials.”



“Why are watching a show that has ridiculous commercials? I walked to his fridge, grabbed two sodas, sat down in the chair next to him and handed him a Coke.

“Want to hear my theory?” I said.

“Sure, why not?”

“I’ve recently began to decide whether or not a television show is for me based on what adVERTisements air during the show.” I said the word like the British do, accent on the second syllable rather than adverTIZEments like Anglo Americans typically do. “Meaning,” I continued, “if a show runs an ad that doesn’t resonate or interest me then I know the programming isn’t for me.”

My friend looked puzzled.

“Yeah, I learned it from the directions that came with my new avalanche beacon. The directions are written in several languages. By comparing the columns, English and French, side by side, I was able to deduce that “Warning” in English could be equated with “Avertissement” in French.

“I get it. Avertissement – Advertisement. Brilliant, man,” he said.

“I know, thanks. I even have French skis. I concluded that ads serve as warnings. To demonstrate, let’s conduct an experiment, shall we?”

“Sounds interesting, how do we proceed, Dr. McAbee.” This particular friend is as smart and inquisitive as they come. Believe me, it was just the pain keeping him quiet.

“Flip the channel.”

He turned it to a local channel where the host and a doctor were publicly discussing some heart-wrenching and personal matter with a couple who were guests on the show. We waited for an advertisement to run. When they broke off, a commercial for a weight loss program came on. We’re both as skinny as a rail.

“See? For somebody, but not for us,” I said.

He changed the channel again. This time, the ad was already on.

“Allergy medicine,” my friend said. We both took a deep breath through clear sinus passages.

“We need not even wait for this show to return.”

He flipped again and we paused as a scantily clad woman was selling who knows what. We watched the whole ad. Then the show came back on, it was something that didn’t interest either of us.

“Ah, we can’t watch this.”

“I know, but did you notice how we were drawn in by the siren call?”

“Siren call?”

“Yeah, usually from a beautiful woman, it’s an enticing plea or appeal, especially one that is deceptively alluring. It’s true. Sex sells. One must be very careful.”

He flipped the channel once again and asked me.

“What about DVR, which gives one the ability through technology to record a program and watch it later. One can just fast forward through the commercials.”

“Dangerous. It’s like ignoring the warning signs and ropes on the ski hill. You could literally be skiing off a cliff without even knowing it.”

I started to fidget. The caffeine and sitting in front of the tube too long was beginning to make me restless. The next advertisement was for an online dating site. We quieted.

“Would you want to meet … ?” He began to ask, but I cut him off.

“How could I?”

He flipped again.

“Here we go,” he said. I could tell that my friend’s spirits were lifting. It was an ad for a beautiful and luxurious sports car. Never mind the fact that with both of our salaries combined, we couldn’t afford to pay for Donald Trump’s haircut. We sighed and changed the channel.

“Here’s a funny one.” It was for car insurance. We waited to see what was on after. Turned out that the ad was funnier than the show. Click.

An ad for a massive truck. Click.

Diapers. Click.

Cell service. We’re both already in a contract. Click.

He finally stopped on a channel televising a golf tournament. They cut to an ad for a condition known as low testosterone. He quickly turned it back to the football game and immediately another drug ad came on. This time the condition was something referred to as erectile dysfunction. As if to say that sitting in front of the TV and watching sports instead of getting outside and playing sports leads to a “softer” lifestyle.

We looked at one another. He shut the TV off. We laughed really hard. My friend was full of life again. From the table, I picked up the newspaper and a skiing magazine and tossed them into his lap. I stood up to leave.

“I’m out of here. I love you bro.”

“Love you too, man. Thanks for stopping by.”

“I know it’s tough right now but this too shall pass. You’ll heal and be back at it soon. Who knows, my friend, if our lives work out the way we want and if we’re blessed with good health, we might just be skiing together for the next 42 years. So, hurry up, will you?”

“Forty-two?”

“Maybe more.”

Jeff McAbee lives in Breckenridge. He’s a campus supervisor at Summit High School.


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