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Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw

Andy Stone
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Oh dear, oh dear.

The world is going straight to hell – and I’m watching “The Price Is Right.”

Japan has been shaken, drowned and burned and now they’re facing an atomic meltdown. The Middle East is at war with itself, as thousands die and the world’s oil supply teeters. The global economy is crippled, unemployment surges, food prices rise, governments collapse and here in the world’s richest country, crime-ridden cities are firing all their cops to save a few bucks.



You want an apocalypse? Yes, sir! One apocalypse, double-jumbo, coming right up! You need fries with that?

And right now – right this very moment, as the world crumbles – I am totally absorbed by the sight of a cute redhead bouncing up and down in near-orgasmic ecstasy at the prospect of winning her very own home air-hockey table. Oh, wait! Better yet. She gets an espresso machine too.




And before the redhead had her moment of glee, I was watching a Navy man – in full uniform, with medals – tossing handfuls of dollar bills in the air in celebration, while a gorgeous prize-model undulated with delight (knowing that she was making a lot more money for just standing there preening than that sailor boy was ever going to see in prize money – or any other kind of money for the rest of his life).

Just to be clear, I’m watching TV all alone in an empty corner of a cavernous car dealership, waiting for them to finish up working on my wife’s Subaru.

I’m wedged here, surrounded by machines tempting me with ice-cold soft drinks and a staggering array of candy bars and fried chips.

Whoops! Something significant just happened on “The Price Is Right.” Bells are ringing, people are shrieking and cheering. The redhead and the sailor are both gone, and now there’s a pair of prize-models preening and undulating. A largish woman in need of dental work won something. A car. Or maybe a vacation. Or a barbecue. Or a set of waterwings.

Disoriented by all the bells and the screaming, I find myself thinking about “Bowling for Appliances.” Was there really a TV show called “Bowling for Appliances?” Maybe not, I just did a Google search for that phrase and all I found was a list of appliance stores in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

But that does remind me that, back in what passed for the Good Old Days, we used to fantasize about a show called “Bowling for Quaaludes.” Bowl a strike, take a ‘lude. Now there was a game with possibilities.

Enough fantasy. Someone just stopped by to get a Coke and the ca-ching! of the Coke machine digesting quarters is blending with a renewed frenzy of bells on the TV. Somebody else won something! A washer/dryer, maybe. Life is good!

Watching “The Price Is Right” feels like opening a time capsule. Or being stuck in one.

Think about it: This is a major national phenomenon, a TV show that’s been on the air for more than 50 years, based entirely on people’s ability to shop. No need to bother with that pesky knowledge stuff. The capital of Bolivia? The atomic weight of beryllium? The man who discovered the quark? Fiddle-dee-dee! Who needs that nonsense? Just tell me how much a set of lawn furniture is worth. Get out there and shop! It’s America’s cure-all for whatever ails us.

Remember, after 9/11, President George W. Bush told Americans, “I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy.” In other words: Get out there and shop! And, while he was at it, he threw in a quick plug for his brother Jeb’s tourist industry: “Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed. This message brought to you by a joint venture of BushCo and the U.S. Supreme Court.” (OK. He didn’t say that last bit about BushCo and the Supremes. But he sure as heck plugged Disney World.)

So maybe, as the planet shakes itself like a dog trying to get rid of fleas (and those fleas, of course, would be us) and long-suffering nations try to throw off their dictators, and the apocalypse approaches, watching “The Price Is Right” is exactly what we should all be doing – working on our shopping skills, training for Olympics, as it were.

But wait!

Suddenly that vast array of consumer delights (including, of course, those delectable prize-models) has disappeared.

Now, on the big TV screen, sinister forces are arrayed against an attractive young woman who appears to be pregnant.

Has the ugly truth of news intruded on our Shopping Paradise?

No worries, it’s just a daytime soap opera.

“The Young and The Restless.” Or “The Dazed and The Stupid.”

Now – instead of large-sized people who needed dental work and wanted appliances – everyone’s beautiful. Even the vampires. I think they’re vampires. I can’t be sure. The sound is turned down too low for me to make out what they’re saying. But their teeth are too white and their smiles too sinister – and nothing’s complete without a vampire these days.

But in the end it’s all the same: “The Price Is Right,” where money rains from the heavens and beautiful models want to give you appliances for free. “The Young and The Stupid,” where everyone’s pretty and beautiful vampires want to suck your blood.

I like it here in my corner of the waiting room, between the Coke machine and the deep-fried fatty snacks. I like the bells ringing and the pretty women and the excitement.

This is America. This is my home.

And suddenly I find myself realizing that I really, really do want Sarah Palin to be my president, instead of that Kenyan Muslim Communist guy.

Sarah’s as pretty as a prize-model. Pretty as any of those vampires.

And I just know in my heart that she’ll give me one of those free washer-dryers. Or a wide-screen TV.

Or a set of waterwings anyway.


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