Saturday, May 27, 2006

entertaining the ill

Madge seems to be at the tail end of her chicken pox. We’ve been spending the days at home while Coco’s in school. I’ve been trying to get her to watch movies, but she’s been more interested in playing on the computer. We even went to the big library (not the local branch) to get some movies and spread some chicken pox among the general population. But to no avail; so I’ve been watching movies while she’s been playing. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten the Jack Benny Show.
What an acquired taste. And a taste whose acquisition requires certain hang-ups, for which Benny’s twee posture and glance is a release. And in the episodes we got this time, it was clear that the laughter was canned and his chin-holding sidelong glance was a mere matter of instinct. Weird.
But, in my defense, I also got some of the Colgate Comedy Hour featuring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Those guys are just no-holds-barred. How can you not laugh when Jerry dances and skips a little too high and lands smack on his butt. The best part, for me, is that the whole show always appears slightly unstable, just at a boiling point, with props not functioning, lines getting missed, extras and principals having to turn away to keep from laughing, etc. But Messrs. Crusetti and Levitz also push at this edge and, dammit, it’s just funny.
And quite frankly how can you not love a sketch that starts with this set-up: “Unfortunately, good Tarzans aren’t born every minute. We gotta have a reservoir of fresh Tarzans.”
But no, Madge kept playing computer games.
Until the ads came on. Her favorite: the Halo ad. A cartoon ad for shampoo (“Soap dulls hair. Halo glorifies it!”) that featured three bears questioning Goldilocks’s identity because her hair was so scraggly. So they wash it, and voila, Madeleine says, “I wish we had Halo shampoo.”
What the? How does that work? Everything I say, she answers with either “why,” “no,” or “but.” An ad, however, has an authority she can’t resist.
In her defense, though, we had this conversation a bit earlier.
“Is Halo real?”
“Real? Yeah, it’s real, but you can’t get it in a store. They stopped making it.”
“Oh. They deleted it.”
“Yes, I guess so. But Ajax and Palmolive and Colgate [other cleaning agents the sponsor is touting] are still around, though we call it toothpaste now, not dental cream.”
“Oh. When did they take away Halo?”
“I don’t know. I’m not sure the company wanted to stay in the shampoo business.”
“Maybe it didn’t sell. Maybe [at this point, Madge tuned me out] they had too many competitors. Maybe, once they had to compete with something other than soap, it turned out that Halo sucked, despite the vaguely phallic packaging.”
But kids never tune out as much as you think they do.
“What’s phallic?”

Okay, I gotta confess, the last part was made up. This time. Something similar has happened before, though, and I’ve since learned to keep snarky “adult” comments inside my head.

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