Remember when Mr. Whipple squeezed the Charmin? We all agreed to believe that people would buy “bathroom tissue” that was soft because they were going to take it home to blow their noses or remove their makeup. Nowadays, I won’t buy Charmin—not that I ever did because it is so expensive. I do not want to see a huge, red Mama Bear peering into Junior’s undershorts and jumping back in shock. I absolutely do not want to see a huge, red Papa Bear playing X-Box with bits of toilet paper stuck all over his wiggling backside. And “Enjoy the go”? Is this greeting soon to replace “Have a nice day”?
I suppose it all started with feminine hygiene products. Many men—my father among them— were disgusted that commercials were now demonstrating the features of one brand over another, but you wouldn’t know what they were for if you were a young child. The lab technician would pour a scientific-looking glass beaker of blue liquid onto two pads stuck to a board. This was obviously just a science experiment, since there are no known human by-products that are blue, so we wouldn’t have to think about reality too hard.
Then here comes another blue product, this one for older men. I must say that my favorite of these commercials is one from a few years ago that takes place in a middle-class subdivision where dozens of fat, bald, middle-aged men come bursting out their front doors, bounding to the street to high-five one another over the picket fences. It just makes me laugh. This effort is so much easier to stomach than the gray-reducing hair product where the older man keeps picking up this younger woman and carrying her around the house while she kicks and giggles. Do younger women who date older men need to be picked up and carried? Is this a Daddy issue?
The least successful “little blue pill” commercial, to me, is the one where the man and the woman are in separate, narrow white bathtubs in the great outdoors. Someone, somewhere missed the point. One big, tacky, heart-shaped bathtub: yes. Two narrow, coffin-shaped bathtubs: not hopeful.
For the past two weeks, we have been served up what I sincerely hope is the worst possible taste with our breakfast news show: male catheters. Yes, there is now a long and informative ad for home health care for those who need help getting rid of their morning coffee. While munching my buttered toast, I was given the helpful information that they even self-lubricate, as an old man slides one into his front trouser pocket. End of breakfast.
Must we all be educated on such matters? If you need a catheter, won’t your doctor—or, as the current lingo goes, “health care professional”—tell you everything you need to know? I can’t figure out how we could talk about this euphemistically. If your little child asks, “Mommy, what is that man putting in his pocket?”, what do you say?
“It’s a funny drinking straw that he’s going to use for his soda at lunch.”
“Why does it have to be lubricated?”
“Is your homework done?”
Oh, take me back to the days of facial tissue and blue-liquid absorbents. I’ll squeeze the Charmin. I’ll even wear pearls and heels to mop my floor.