Television commercials for making life better through chemistry are thoroughly overwhelming.   First they promise to cure everything except death and then go on to list all the side effects that might kill you!  Whatever happened to the promise of ‘first do no harm’ ?  Instead, we are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils:  your headache may dissipate but the drug might cause a brain tumor; alleviate your indigestion but watch out for esophageal cancer. 

Then we have the legal profession commercials.  Here we are told, if a drug harms you, take the maker to court and receive a giant settlement…if it killed a relative you’ll become a millionaire!  

Let’s not forget the testimonials from people who have been ‘cured’ of cancer or heart disease or some illness we’ve never even heard of.   Sometimes they are given labels: ‘actual patient’ or ‘actor portrayal’ , always in very small print.  In even smaller print is a disclaimer, “You must not expect these results, everyone is different”…but how many of us read the small print?  When you’re hurting and seeking a panacea you’ll try anything.  

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Which brings me to our next subject.  A number of channels now carry programs that were hits in the mid to late twentieth century.  These, of course, appeal mostly to Seasoned Citizens, who remember their halcyon days and seek to revisit their youth.  It is fun to see MASH again and Murder She Wrote, The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, and the unforgettable lollipop sucking detective, Kojac.  But the sponsoring commercials paying for these shows are, to say the least, devastating.  The public relations people have definitely done their research, aiming their messages at the older, more vulnerable viewers:   All those under 85 can buy burial insurance and not feel guilty about leaving their children this tremendous monetary burden.  If you’ve made it to over 85 though, tough canooties!  I guess they figure if you’re that old they can shortly focus on your kids to buy their own insurance and protect your grandkids!

Then we have the monument and cemetery ads.  May as well make the choice while you’re still standing, write your own epitaph and check out the view!   

Let’s not forget the ‘emergency button’.  Not a bad idea at all, but why try to scare the bejeepers out of us with peers in devastating situations:  alone on the floor where you’ve fallen with no one to find you for days if at all; slipping in the shower or passing out in the park.  Seasoned Citizens are not idiots, just tell us how being able to call someone quickly will be helpful, without all the histrionics.  Scare tactics stink!!  We can understand our needs without all of those gruesome illustrations.

Now, as I do occasionally, a piece of advice.  If you really want to take care of your children and humanity at the same time, consider leaving your physical remains to a medical school.  Not only will you be of service to future generations, your relatives will not be faced with those astronomical funeral costs we spoke of earlier.  This is the path Jason and I chose…check it out before you check out!

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