Now is the season of our incontinence

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By John Pawlak

Ring around the collar! Ring around the collar! Remember how that used to be the pinnacle of social embarrassment, a reason to hide in the shadows, the determining factor to your future and your happiness? Or what about the heartbreak of eczema, seborrhea, psoriasis? Scratch your head in public and everyone would know that you have dry itchy scalp. Dandruff flakes on your suit? Well, you can kiss that promotion goodbye!

In years long past, those were the problems that haunted our society. Commercials selling personal care products would be carefully worded so as not to offend. You certainly wouldn’t see a diaper rash commercial during the Ed Sullivan Show or during Saturday morning cartoons.

But today, it’s an all-out war against our senses and sensibilities. Take a break from watching your favorite sitcom to enjoy a one minute treatise on the medical advancements for erectile dysfunction. Ah yes, a truly wholesome subject for prime time television, a cute little tune playing in the background as they expound the wonders of natural male enhancement “for the gift that keeps on giving.” I try to imagine parents explaining to their kids exactly why all those women are so excited to see Santa. (Gee mommy, I thought Santa laughed, not giggled!)

It’s like an anatomy lesson each evening. Treatments for jock itch. Ointments for fungal growths.

Nasal sprays with closeup images of loosening up that mucus and phlegm. Want to know how the ureter works? Want your kids to learn the inside truth of the digestive system? Watch a commercial!

Nothing is sacred. A woman walking in an airport is approached and asked, “Hey, aren’t you the Diarrhea Lady?!” to which she proudly exclaims “Yes!” and pulls out samples of diarrhea medicine. Airports will stop you if you try to bring in a bottle of water, but they let the diarrhea lady go through? Exactly what type of security are they focusing on?

How about the dancing people who wave various body parts at you while singing “Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea.” Yet another nice tune. I wonder why this video never made it to MTV.

Commercials on how to clean that nasty ear wax buildup, bad breath, underarm stench, urinary tract infections, foot fungus, feminine itch, acne, ring worms, constipation. And let’s not forget flatulence! Ah yes, a wonderful topic for your family to enjoy during breaks from “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” If you don’t know everything about water retention, prostate inflammation, bed wetting and rectal bleeding ... then maybe you’re not!

One of my favorite is a commercial where these people are complaining about having to constantly take so many pills for their genital herpes. A woman complains, “I don’t have time to fuss with pills all day. I have things to do!” Oh well, of course you have things to do. That’s how you got herpes in the first place! Duh!

If there’s an orifice in the human body, there’s a commercial showing you something leaking from it. I’ve seen commercials for bladder infections, warmth-providing lubricating jellies, menstruation, loose stool, premature ejaculation, douches, pinworms, cellulite, canker sores, and toilet paper sticking to your behind. I suppose it could be worse. I could be watching the Science Channel. Then I’d get to see all these in simulated three-dimensional animations.

Must we endure the graphic details of people bragging about how they got rid of unwanted hair? Or how they got back the hair they wanted? On the positive side, hair loss commercials are still relegated to discussing areas above the neck.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean one has to talk about everything! Two people are outside, each sitting nude in a separate bathtub. The narrator says, “When the time is right.” That raises an interesting question. What time is in fact the best time for two people to take a bath outside in the woods? In my opinion, it looks a little uncomfortable for what they’re trying to sell.

I must admit though that some commercials seem absolutely appropriate. A FloMax commercial during the Super Bowl would be very apropos.

Wait a minute ... another commercial is coming on. What could this one be for? Pet odor? Dust mites? Gum disease? Close-up shots of toilet bowl stains?

Where will it all end? It’s a safe bet that we’ll keep seeing more and more of what we want less and less. Maybe they’ll start making full-length movies to sell these products? Keep an eye out for commercial blockbusters of anatomy heading your way ... Lord of the Ringworms, Winnie the Pooh-Pooh, One Flew Over the Caca’s Nest, Raiders of the Lost Barf, Saving Ryan’s Private, The Wizard of Ooze, and Pee Wee’s Naturally Enhanced Big Adventure.