Kindness And Cruelty.

A friend of mine named Alex worked as a radio DJ back when radio stations were still run by people who lived in your neighborhood and you could call them up on a landline back when they weren’t called “landlines” because no one had cell phones and when you talked to the DJ you could request a favorite song or just chat with them for a while which some seemed to appreciate. One local radio station had a running gag of playing the call of the Tookie bird from George of The Jungle over a song and if you were the first caller you won something. One day my friend Jeff was talking to a DJ at that station and heard the Tookie bird in the background. He said, “Hey, I guess I’m the first caller. What did I win?”

But that’s another story.

One December day when Alex was working he had to play the hour’s news. When it was done there was a space of about thirty seconds before he could start playing songs so he filled it in by saying, “And we have some sad news from the North Pole. Santa Claus was badly injured when he fell out of his Norelco shaver. More on this as it develops.”

If you’re confused by that there was a long-running commercial of Santa Claus riding around the North Pole on a Norelco electric shaver. There’s a version of it below. It was cute although a little misleading. As soon as I got a chance I turned one of those electric shavers on and put it on the ground but it didn’t move. It didn’t even tear up the carpet which is probably a good thing, but I was hoping it would leave some trail marks.

Anyway the “joke” about Santa being injured or even killed while piloting his Norelco shaver was one I remember adults regularly told kids and it even inspired an Onion article, but I never did understand why it was supposed to be funny. All I got from it was that adults could be cruel. And weird.

For some reason though I found it hilarious when Alex did it on the radio because, well, because I’m weird.

A short time after Alex made his “announcement” he got a call from the radio station owner who just said, “Don’t do that again.”

That made me laugh too. That must be the cruel part.

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20 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Chris, is it kind or cruel for me to tell you (1) Michael and I were discussing the Norelco/Santa commercial yesterday and (2) I’m going to ask him to read this post?

    I guess I’m the first commenter! What did I win?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s very kind of you to share so much with me. You win a personalized reply to your comment.

      Reply
  2. Ray V.

    I’m old enough to remember both the commercial and local DJs. We still have a small handfull around here, but the list is shrinking. Christmas was so much more fun back then, maybe because I was a kid?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Hopefully getting older doesn’t take the fun out of Christmas. That would be almost as depressing as the shrinking number of local DJs.

      Reply
  3. Chuck Baudelaire

    “Landline” is one of those words that didn’t exist until it was needed. And it will cease to exist when it’s no longer needed. And now I’m contemplating my own mortality. Oh, look! Santa’s riding an electric shaver on TV! Life is good.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s all one big rollercoaster ride!

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    I don’t remember that ad at all. Maybe it didn’t run in Canada.
    I do remember requesting a song on the radio and staying up all night with our tape recorder to the radio though to catch it. Good times.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The commercial didn’t run in Canada in those days because the government hoped to punish draft dodgers by denying them electric shavers. Or something.
      I remember just taping an hour of one of my favorite radio stations. It’s even still around. It’s a country station now. Sign of the times.

      Reply
  5. Gina W.

    It’s hilarious that you put the shaver on the ground and waited for it to move. My grandpa had that kind of razor and never once did I try to use it as a toy. It never even occurred to me. I had to do a double take on the “lady” razor in the commercial. It reminded me of the birth control pill packs of the old days. And the giant hair dryer is great too. Thank God I don’t have to find a place in my house for that thing.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      What’s even more hilarious is I put the shaver on the ground when I was sixteen and my parents gave me one. I wanted to see what it would do. And then I developed a hideous case of acne that sent me to a dermatologist. At the time I thought the shaver had something to do with that.
      Those giant hair dryers always bring back fond memories of an aunt who had one in her basement and I’d sit in it and pretend I was on a mission to the Moon.
      It’s a little frightening to me though that no one’s commented on the snowmen sitting under heat lamps and under that hair dryer. THEY’RE COMMITTING SUICIDE! That makes the commercial even more fun, doesn’t it?

      Reply
    2. Spoken Like A True Nut

      Ditto on the birth control pack resemblance double-take. I mean, she does kinda look like she wants to jump Santa’s bones as he flies by; it’s not unreasonable to imagine she might just be taking precautions before getting her jolly on with old St. Nick.

      Reply
      1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

        Good point. The guy’s centuries old but then again Charlie Chaplin was still having kids when he was a hundred and three, so as long as a guy can still perform there’s still a chance.

        Reply
  6. kdcol

    Ah yes,the days of calling a “special request” into the radio and screaming with glee when they’d acknowledge you on the air. Those were some good days. My kids would probably think that’s weird. Of course they think everything is weird.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Now that we can pull up just about any song and a video to go with it at any time the idea of calling up some strange guy and begging him to play a song for you does seem pretty weird. But I still really envy my friends who’d have extended conversations with the DJs. They’d talk about all kinds of things. I never could figure out how to do that. For me the calls always went like this:
      Me: Hi, could you please play “Hourglass” by Squeeze?
      DJ: Sure, kid.
      [CLICK]

      Reply
  7. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Can we talk about the part at 0:22 where creepy smiling snowlady’s face PHASES THROUGH THE GODDAMN HAIR DRYER?

    Oh wait, they made a cute Christmas pun at the end. Thank goodness, nightmares averted.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, snowpeople nightmares should be solely limited to Calvin & Hobbes cartoons where they’re hilarious.

      Reply
  8. Margot

    That commercial was what would get me into the Christmas spirit when I was a kid. Of course, that was way back when the Christmas season started in December, not the day after Halloween. I’d never heard the joke about Santa getting injured falling out of his shaver before. That actually made me laugh out loud when I read it.
    I, too, wondered what birth control pills had to do with Norelco products and Mrs. Clause. It was a pretty clever commercial, though, with the snow people heating themselves up in various ways. Can you imagine if they showed a snowman ironing his tie while wearing it now? There would have to be so many warnings not to try that at home that it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

    P.S. Great song request. I loved everything by Squeeze.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s a little sad but some of my most vivid Christmas memories are of specific commercials like this one, albeit ones that ran repeatedly every year, so they were as much part of the holiday background as things like the songs and the tree going up.
      The most important warning, though, would be not to get your hairdryer wet. Granted the advantage of one of those giant chair hairdryers is it’s really difficult to dump one in the bathtub.
      P.S. It’s so nice to know a fellow fan of Squeeze, but would you believe that DJ never would play anything by them for me? I called so many times it got to the point that I could hear them sigh when they heard my voice. You’d think they’d play the song just to shut me up.

      Reply
      1. Margot

        Same with me about my Christmas memories being tied to commercials. Throw in a Peanuts Christmas Special and I was good to go.

        Either that DJ had awful taste or Squeeze wasn’t popular enough (perish the thought!). After reading this post yesterday I watched a bunch of Squeeze videos on YouTube. It’s funny to think back to before MTV and music videos were big. You’d only get the pictures on the album covers–if there even were any–to get an idea of what they looked like. There was a pretty big difference between how I’d imagined them and what I actually saw on the videos. I kind of miss the time before instant access to info.

        Reply
  9. Mike Wright

    I just a glimpse of those days couldn’t relate entirely… but yeah using landline and radio stations, those were the days <3

    Reply

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