Most afternoons I go to the gym to to get a healthy dose of exercise and an unhealthy dose of daytime tv. They have six or seven sets on the wall, which means you can watch pretty much anything from “Fifth Wheel” to “Lou Dobbs Moneyline.” (Note: Watching C-Span while listening to the audio of Jerry Springer, or vice versa, is vastly more entertaining than watching either of the programs in their original forms.). The nadir of daytime tv, of course, is daytime tv advertising, a huge wasteland of Shady Characters Trying To Sell You Stuff You Obviously Don’t Need. Garlic choppers, 14-volume “Best of the 80’s” CD sets, liability lawyers — you know what I’m talkin’ about.
Of particular interest to the patrons of the gym are the endless ads for “Get Fit Fast!” schemes and paraphernalia . You can’t help but feel a sorry for some chump who would buy a geegaw in the hopes of losing twenty pounds in two weeks, when you yourself have lost half that amount by using the stationary bike every day for six months. And everyone in the lockerroom gets a big laugh out of those vibrating whatsits which, when strapped to your stomach, promise to melt away the fat like it’s a crayon on the dashboard of a Louisiana Hyundai.
But then there’s John Basedow. His commercials run all the time on every station, and they never fail to strike fear into the hearts of everyone in the midst of working out. The man looks, for all the world, like a living, breathing, poorly-done Photoshop job: the head of the class geek clumsily pasted onto the body of the class jock. He is a terror to behold. And whenever his visage appears on the television screens, you can almost hear people in the gym thinking “Good gravy! Am I going to look like that when I’m totally ripped?!,” as they set down their barbells and slowly back away from the Nautilus machine. Men stop in mid-sit-up and head to the showers, realizing that the ladies would prefer them with beer guts rather than looking like something Frakenstein stitched together from the corpses of Bob Saget and Rambo.