I grow older. The stuff I once allowed to pass by me without so much as a shiver now causes a full-body tremor. I remember seeing the same thing happen to my father as he achieved a certain age. He was once a fan of highway billboards, but toward the end of his life, something changed. He became not only a critic, but a froth-at-the-mouth naysayer of whatever was being advertised on the signs. Toothpaste ads, for some reason, really fired him up. “How do they know it will clean your teeth better than baking soda,” he would hiss in a most proper Oxford accent (he was educated in Great Britain.) South of the Border ads, ubiquitous along 95 South, rendered him almost speechless with fury. “I went there for one night with your mother,” he once told me. “They glued the ashtrays to the night stands?”
I used to smile at these vexations. I no longer do, and have developed a set of my own.
The Most Recent—I am are listening to news radio in my car. A woman comes on to pitch the services of a bank. She has a friendly voice, and you can tell by her intonations that she has your best interest in mind and will become a good friend if only you’ll listen to her. “At NewNited Bank, we care about you. Come and visit! Open a checking or savings account and we’ll give you MONEY. We will!” And then a much less friendly voice, always male, ads: “Restrictionsapply.Youmustinvestfiftythousanddollarsinournointerestaccountonfridays
The male announcer says this one one breath, and the postscript last about six seconds. I used to work in radio, so I know how they do it, speeding up the voice artificially because nobody alive can talk this fast.
I’ve no doubt these announcements fulfill a legal requirement of some sort, but it amazes me that the legislators who framed the regulation didn’t bother to slam shut this loophole. But then again, most legislators are fast-talkers too
My latest book, L’Amérique, is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.