I have seen my future, and I am pretty fired up about it.
As a rule, I do not watch TV news because the fetal position makes me self-conscious. But every once in awhile I find myself in a mood to watch stuff burn, explode, bleed, ooze, or crash into other stuff — while theatrical graphics swoop into view, tiny words scroll maniacally across the bottom of the screen and a bombastic voice warns about the latest ominous trends in bladder leakage — so I tune in.
The TV news formula is a glory to behold: Gravitas-steeped warnings about cholesterol, horrifying statistics about highway fatalities, and gruesome footage of war precede commercials for cholesterol drugs, safe cars and other products made by key corporations in the military-industrial complex. It is really convenient that it comes at dinnertime because it really works up a hearty appetite!
According to Nielsen*, the nightly news is most popular with the 86-132 year-old demographic. So it only stands to reason that news editors would produce stories of interest to people of that age, and that advertisers would pitch products to that demographic. So, I figure it is a good way to get a glimpse of what lies in store for my sister as she grows old and, many years later, I follow suit.
If TV news is a reliable indicator, here is what I have got to look forward to if I do not die in a car wreck, plane crash, disease pandemic, Stony Brook four-way-stop fracas or terror attack: tennis elbow, enlarged prostate, acid reflux, high blood pressure, memory loss, business-meeting flatulence, overactive bladder, hay fever, chronic dry eyes, diabetes, high “bad” cholesterol, low “good” cholesterol, restless leg syndrome, gingivitis and hemorrhoids. I apparently will have a lot of cats (who will think hilarious thoughts out loud), which I will feed Fancy Feast Elegant Melodies salmon pâté on a silver platter and clean up after with the help of Tidy Cats Crystals. I will eat all my meals at Red Lobster. I will be able to neither come nor go. Both my internal and external pipes will be clogged.
At first blush, that might not seem like the sort of future one could get stoked about. But here is the good part: Nexium, Nasonex, Metamucil, Detrol, Countour, Gas X, Restasis, Preparation H, Vesicare, Aleve, Requip, Caduet, One A Day Men’s and Listerine will totally fix my shit up. Kellogg’s Smart Start will have my back on cholesterol, and Advil PM will ease my pain and knock me out. Benefiber Plus and Liquid Plumr Foaming Pipe Snake will take care of my internal and external plumbing, respectively.
Even better, the pharmaceutical industry is currently hard at work coming up with entirely new drugs to take care of the side effects caused by their current drugs — you know, that stuff they read really fast at the end of their commercials: nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, bleeding gums, vomiting, a fondness for the Dodge Durango, a capacity for finding Terry Meiners funny and the inclination to accept Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior in a facility seating more than 16,000.
I just have to keep watching the nightly news to make sure I am current on what fixes what.
Not only can I eat all the cheese and corn syrup I can hold, I can also pop all the pills money can buy. When one causes high blood pressure, another will bring it down. When that one causes swelling, another will combat the swelling. When that one causes my immune system to crash, another one will boost my immune system. When that one causes total liver failure, another one will put me in a coma, where I will not have to worry about a thing.
Not sure about you, but that makes me as smoothly mellow as Tim Russert on a Karl Rove talking-point bender. Yes, my future is bright, thanks to America’s pharmaceutical industry and the news stories it bought and paid for. Besides, they are bound to have something in their medicine cabinet that makes the fetal position more comfortable.
* Tammy Nielsen, my acupressurist
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