May 6, 2009
Sometimes I can manage to avoid menstruation, genital herpes and erectile dysfunction commercials for days at a time. Somehow, though, the television network marketing executives have esoteric knowledge of when I’m visiting my parents and watching TV with my mother. She suddenly screams, “Have they no shame? I’ve developed and/or adopted some techniques for dealing with these embarrassing moments.
Technique #1: Talk Over the Commercial. To execute this technique effectively, you have to divert the topic away from the commercial immediately. Always be prepared with a diversion topic. Have a question ready that your mother won’t have to pause and think about before answering. This is an effective technique, but it is difficult to execute. So be prepared.
Technique #2: Bathroom/Kitchen Break. As soon as the commercial comes on, announce loudly and clearly that you have to go to the bathroom. Jump up and move urgently. Hide in the bathroom until you feel it’s safe to come out. Use the kitchen as a contingency plan in case the commercial break is not yet completely finished. It is very important to not return until your program is on again. Otherwise, you, assuming that the commercial break is soon over, could return prematurely and be subject to a surprise attack.
Technique #3 Play dumb and oblivious. This technique can be employed after your mother has already acknowledged the commercial by her scream. It is too late now to break away to the bathroom or kitchen. And it would be too awkward to change topic. So just play dumb – “Oh, is that one of those commercials about erectile dysfunction? I didn’t notice…” – until you can find the right time to employ technique #1 or #2.
The television network marketing execs are very clever. Notice how these commercials are strategically spaced out so we can relive the embarrassing moment several times in one evening. It would be nice if the commercials were consolidated and designated to a single break. Maybe even alert the viewers by announcing the special commercial break in advance, “The following 3- minute commercial break may cause viewer discomfort”…
To deal with these disturbing commercials in a positive way, my friends and I invented the game Thursday Night Primetime. We were basically divided into two camps – the Grey’s Anatomy Camp and the ER Camp. Each camp would count the number of menstruation, genital herpes and erectile dysfunction commercials. Whichever had the highest count, won.