Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

July 13, 2007

Is it just me or are billboards a wonderful invention? Without them, for instance, we’d be subjected to pristine views of fields that haven’t yet been plowed under to make room for condos and office complexes, and we’d never be able to guess that there are fast food restaurants, hotels, antiques, last month’s rodeo and goat roast, next month’s flea market, strip malls, and strip clubs at the next exit because no one ever bothers to look at the smaller road signs the highway patrol uses to advertise those things.

Billboards are almost as great as restaurant marquees. Sometimes I think I’d like the job of putting signs on the marquees of restaurants. It seems like it would be pretty easy: just forget how to spell, and learn to replace letters like Q or E with the number 5. The best part if you get to spell out such exciting phrases as, "Try our smoky bacon cheeseburger. Its mokin." I actually saw that once, and, let me tell you, if you haven’t had a bacon cheeseburger that was mokin then you don’t know what you’re missing. Neither do I, for that matter. And it’s a job that gets you out in the open air, or at least out in the open smog.

Once when I was a teenager and staying at a friend’s house we discovered that somebody down the street had rented a marquee and parked it in a front yard. It was one of those that said, "Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s Forty", so we went down and changed it to say, "Sorry Dorky Hollywood Loft". Or at least we would have if we’d had access to a computer anagram generator. Or if we’d been overachieving dweebs, instead of just underachieving dweebs.

But I digress. Speaking of technology, is it just me or is the greatest new advance in technology the animated billboard? It is just me, isn’t it? Actually it’s not even me. The only person who’s really excited about the animated billboard is the local proctologist who uses them to show a commercial that shows off his skills as a ballroom dancer. I suppose that’s better than showing off his skills as a proctologist. If you don’t know what a proctologist does, by the way, I’m not going to tell you. Let’s just say that the feeling you get when a normal doctor hands you the bill is a feeling you’ll get twice when you visit the proctologist. But I digress. Animated billboards are really amazing because, no matter what they’re advertising, they all basically have the same message: "Driving isn’t complicated and dangerous enough already. Watch a commercial while you’re travelling at highway speed!"

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