Read the Fine Print

January 30, 2004

I love commercials. I know that’s kind of like saying I love root canal work, but at least with commercials I can walk out of the room. And sometimes it’s entertaining figuring out the added benefits commercials promise come with whatever product they’re selling For instance, there’s a product that, according to the commercial, will make me thin, attractive, and successful in business. Who knew hemorrhoid cream could have so many uses? And there’s a pre-packaged lunch meal for kids that’s so heavily processed that even the baloney has sugar in it. You’d think the commercials would just say, "Hey, busy parents, if you don’t have time to put together a lunch, give your kids one of these." Instead the commercials show a young child becoming increasingly frustrated with his mother for giving him real, homemade lunches instead of a cardboard box of cheese and crackers that taste like cardboard. The commercial’s dire warning is clear: feed your child colorfully packaged industrial waste products or he’ll grow up to be Charles Manson.

A few years ago there was a commercial that showed people driving while doing the most insane things: putting on makeup, fishing around on the floorboard for a paperclip, or talking on a cell-phone, taking notes on a post-it pad on the dashboard, and watching a portable television. Okay, that last one wasn’t really in the commercial – he’s a guy who nearly hit me while I was crossing the street. An ominous voice-over would explain that because drivers like these are on the road you really need a particular brand of car insurance. The real message of the commercial was, "Drive any way you want! Our insurance will cover the poor shlubs whose cars you total. Really."

What I love most is the fine print in commercials. It used to be simple and bland, stuff like, "Void where prohibited" or "Your mileage may vary" or "May cause death." Then of course there would be the moustached guy yelling, "You get zero interest for six years, plus a $2,000 rebate," with the fine print that said, "For qualified buyers." And the even finer print that said, "Qualified buyers already have three cars and need something with upholstery that matches their new Armani suit." Now the message I see repeated more than any other in fine print is "Do not attempt." That’s closely followed by "Professional driver on a closed course", followed by "Professional driver on a computer-generated course," followed by "Computer-generated driver in a computer-generated car on a computer-generated course. Do not attempt."

Recently I saw a commercial in which "Do not attempt" was replaced by, "We actually filmed a guy doing this. He was going to do it for free, but we all felt a little guilty in our Armani suits, so we gave him some money. He’s used it to buy some nice accessories for his wheelchair." I was so busy reading the fine print that I have no idea what the commercial was selling. I think it was hemorrhoid cream.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?

Why is it that no matter what color of bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day when mattresses are NOT on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with the hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

On electric toasters, why do they engrave the message ‘one slice’? How many pieces of bread do they think people are really gonna try to stuff in that slot?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give their vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic garbage bag will open from the end you first try?

How do those dead bugs get into closed light fixtures?

Why do we wash BATH towels? Aren’t we clean when we use them? If not then what was the purpose of the bath?

Considering all the lint you get in your dryer, if you kept drying your clothes would they eventually just disappear?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say ‘Its all right’? It isn’t all right, so why don’t we say, ‘That hurt, you stupid idiot’?

Why is it that when you’re walking up the stairs and you get to the top you always think there’s still one more step?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

Is it true that the only difference between a yard sale and a trash pickup is how close to the road the stuff is placed? (Love this one)

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

Why do women always ask questions that have no right answers?

Why do old men wear their pants higher than younger men?

Why is it that inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened?

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend and a dog is man’s best friend, who really is the dumber sex?

Why are the needy only thought of during the holidays? Aren’t they just as needy throughout the rest of the year?

Why is it that men can react to broken bones as ‘just a sprain’ and deep wounds as ‘just a scratch’, but when they get the sniffles they are deathly ill ‘with the flu’ and have to be bedridden for weeks?

How come we never hear any father-in-law jokes?

Why do men forget everything and women remember everything?

Shouldn’t all married men forget their mistakes? After all there’s no sense in two people remembering the same things right?

Is the real reason women live longer then men because they don’t have to live with women?

If at first you don’t succeed, shouldn’t you try doing it like your wife told you to?

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