Pre-game commercials bring on a powerful case of rig envy

December 21, 2003|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight Ridder/Tribune

LET'S SAY YOU'RE a middle-aged guy. It's a Sunday afternoon, and you're planning to relax by watching a little football, defined as "11 consecutive hours of football."

You settle on the sofa and turn on the pre-game show, and the first thing you see is a commercial for a pickup truck. This is followed by another commercial for a pickup truck, and then, for a change of pace, several more commercials for pickup trucks. Then there are about 45 seconds of men talking about football, followed by still more commercials for pickup trucks.

At this point, you start to wonder if you're the only guy in America who doesn't drive a pickup truck. You drive a Toyota Camry, because in your line of work -- accountant -- the largest payload you haul is Chinese food.

But you are envious of the men in the truck commercials -- manly, bulging men, with manly, bulging vehicles; men who handle large tools; men who do not mind getting sweaty and dirty. In the morning, when white-collar Camry drivers like you are applying underarm deodorant, these men are deliberately perspiring and smearing dirt on their bodies, preparing to go work on the rig.

That's where the men in truck commercials always work: on a rig. You have never, in your accounting career, been involved with a rig. You're not sure what a "rig" is. But now you wish you had one. You have rig envy.

Of course, you could not get to the rig in your Camry, because you have to drive over boulders. That's how your TV-commercial-truck-drivin' guy always gets to his rig: He drives over the largest boulders he can find. If he can't find any boulders, he simulates them by banging his head violently against the roof of his cab. That's how manly he is.

And he needs to be manly, for there is trouble at the rig. There is always trouble at the rig, in TV-Truck-Commercial-Land, and it always requires the truck-drivin' man to save the day by hitchin' his truck, with a heavy chain, to some massive object -- a tree, a building, a tectonic plate, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy -- and towin' it up a boulder-strewn mountain. Then, it's quittin' time, as indicated by the sound of Bob Seger shrieking "Like a rock! Oooooooowww, like a rock!" with the intense, sincere passion of a man who has a rabid shrew in his undershorts.

By the 15th pickup-truck commercial, you are no longer able to focus on the pre-game show, because you're feeling deeply insecure about the size of your Camry. You wonder if you could trade it in for a pickup truck. Of course, you'd have to convince your wife that there were practical benefits. ("Look, honey! It has a 1,700-pound payload! I could carry 250 gallons of wonton soup!") But your wife would never see the need for a truck. Your wife is -- face it -- a woman.

And just then, when you're starting to get really depressed, they finally stop showing truck commercials. You heave a sigh of relief, only to realize they are now showing: Viagra commercials. Dozens of them, interspersed with Levitra commercials. They're all basically the same: A man -- a rugged man, far more manly than you -- openly acknowledges that he had problems with his rig. But then he took a pill, and, zing, he can perform again! He can play professional baseball! He can (winkwink) throw a football through a tire!

You try to ignore these commercials. You tell yourself you don't need this product. But then you remember all those nights when, after a long day, you went into the bedroom, and your wife wanted you to -- in fact, practically begged you to -- throw the football through the tire. But you were "too tired."

So now, on the sofa, you are a husk of your former self, a man with a tiny shriveled Camry, wondering if you should ask your doctor about Viagra. But that would mean going to the doctor's office, which, in your imagination, has a giant neon sign outside that says "VIAGRA DOCTOR, PROVIDING VIAGRA FOR GUYS WHO NEED VIAGRA." Also in your imagination there are pickup-drivin' guys outside the doctor's office, workin' on some kind of rig. As you drive up in your Camry, they give you noogies through your moonroof.

This is what you're picturing as you lie on your sofa, curled into the fetal position, when finally, mercifully, the pre-game show comes to an end, and the actual game is about to start.

Are you ready for some football?

No.

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