It doesn't get any worse than this

Kevin Cowherd

July 02, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

Some months ago, there appeared in this space one man's vision of hell.

Today we present Life in Hell, Part II:

At 9 every morning, a whistle sounds mournfully. Everyone shuffles to the TV for a mandatory viewing of "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee!"

The first 15 minutes are the cruelest, as hosts Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford engage in mindless, numbing chitchat while pretending to sip coffee from ceramic mugs. Regis, manic as usual, spins another tired story about visiting Notre Dame. Kathie Lee prattles on about her pregnancy, her son Cody, her husband Frank, her next singing gig, the latest magazine cover she's gracing, etc.

Suddenly, Kathie Lee screeches "Oh, Reeg!" in that dentist's-drill voice.

Everyone around the TV winces. At the end of the hour, people walk away badly shaken.

In hell, everyone is forced to own a cat. Whatever spot on the couch is your favorite, that is where the cat sits. When you try to move him, he lunges and opens a three-inch gash on your forefinger.

Every car in hell is a Ford Pinto or AMC Gremlin. Traffic is always hopelessly snarled. Every highway is dotted with signs that say: "Construction ahead, expect delays."

No matter what route you take, four lanes slowly funnel into one via orange cones. As you inch along, you notice there is no visible construction taking place in the three closed lanes for 10 miles.

Finally, you spot four highway department workers in Whitesnake T-shirts leaning on their shovels and telling jokes. They watch as a fifth man with a huge pot-belly works a backhoe. You shoot them a dirty look as you pass, but they don't care. The men leaning on their shovels make $30 an hour, just like on Earth.

L In hell, everyone must visit a dental hygienist once a week.

The hygienist is a gruff woman in a starched white uniform named Grete. She has a thin, wispy mustache. As soon as you get in the chair, she demands to know if you've been flossing.

Naturally, you lie and say yes (after all, you're already in hell).

"Don't give me that!" she shrieks, backhanding you across the face. A warm trickle of blood flows from your lip.

Grete then launches into a dreary 10-minute lecture on plaque buildup, prevention of gum disease and the importance of regular periodontal checkups.

When you begin to nod off, Grete pokes you angrily in the ribs and shouts: "Are you listening to me, worm?"

In hell, every home smells of honey-suckle potpourri displayed in lace ballet slippers. The living rooms are decorated with doilies and hundreds of knickknacks, dominated by tiny glass figurines of swans. The sofas and chairs are encased in clear plastic slipcovers.

By law, everyone must have a black velvet Elvis painting hanging in the foyer. Basement rec rooms are required to have yards of cheap paneling, a small artificial turf putting range and at least one Bud Light sign in a window.

At 5 p.m., a whistle sounds mournfully. Everyone trudges over to the Hell Amphitheater for a mandatory viewing of "Talent Night."

A troupe of heavyset men dressed in lederhosen and alpine shepherd's hats play polka music. The clarinet and accordion players are clearly drunk and out of tune. Everyone in the audience yawns. Many look at their watches.

The polka band is followed by a performance artist, who remains curled in the fetal position for 45 minutes to express her version of "The Birth of Man."

It is brutally hot. Vendors circulating through the stands sell only Pepsi Clear.

In hell, telephone solicitors operate 24 hours a day. It is not unusual to be awakened at 4 in the morning by a perky voice offering to up the ceiling on your Visa or Mastercard, or build an extension on your deck.

At 9 p.m. a whistle sounds mournfully. Coughing and gagging from the low-lying clouds of methane gas, everyone troops listlessly over to the Hell Boardwalk.

The noise level approaches that of a Saturn 5 rocket at lift-off. An army of carny barkers with leathery skin, long, greasy hair and several teeth missing shout: "Hey, hey, hey! Land a ring 'round the bottle, win the giant Barney!"

Night has fallen, but it's brutally hot. The concession stands sell only Diet Mountain Dew.

At 11 p.m. a whistle sounds mournfully. Everyone shuffles home. Sleep does not come easily. The only book in every home is a Jackie Collins novel. The only thing on TV is "Let's Jazzercise!"

Adding to the discomfort is this nagging thought: Soon it will be time for "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee!"

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