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RSVPhillippi | APRIL 2018


Graphic Demo

Like a of people, as I get older I’m more and more likely to watch a rerun of an old television show than I am to watch a new one.  It seems like most new TV shows are either about forensics, off brand superheroes, or some kind of contest where the idea seems to be to see which terrible person can be the most terrible.  For me there’s great comfort in watching a sitcom from when I was younger, or even catching up on a silly detective show I never watched when it was new.  The shows themselves are the broadcast equivalent of comfort food.  Reruns of Cheers or Castle are like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. The problem is that all of these shows appear on networks where the advertisers seem deeply concerned about my prostate health, possible malpractice suits I should file, or how much supplemental insurance we’re carrying.  Which, by the way, is none.  I refuse to take life advice from a duck.  This had started to bother me because I thought; why on earth are they running ads on this channel?  This is where I get my daily fix of M*A*S*H.   Why aren’t they aiming at their ideal demographic?  Then it started to really bother me when I realized I am their ideal demographic.

 Advertisers target different age groups for different things.  Your  12-17 year olds are rich in stupid, so computer games and acne treatments get aimed at them.  18-24, believe it or not, is even thicker with dumb, that’s why they’re the ones flashy cars, energy drinks, and gym memberships are pushed towards.  When you get to the 25-34 range you’re starting to get to people who have earned some actual money, and here come the ads for pricey booze, unpalatable but expensive beers, and websites to help them buy houses in safe neighborhoods.  35-44 is where the real moola can be found and they’re the ones who get non-stop encouragement to invest in risky things, go on ridiculous vacations, and websites to find houses in even safer neighborhoods.

By the time they get to 45-54 the ads are all about the fact that the people in that demographic range are becoming aware that they are slowing down, so they need dietary supplements, cosmetic dentistry, and drugs to make a man more...manly.  Then along comes my generation, I’m 54, but the 55-64 ads are mainly about whether or not using any of the things you were sold in your 40s have given you a disease you don’t know you have.

My generation gets a lot of commercials about reverse mortgages, because those really safe neighborhoods don’t come cheap, invisible, comfortable, water proof undergarments and prepaid funerals.

That’s the one that gets me.  These ads are pure scare tactics that if you don’t go ahead and pony up the dough for your last hurrah, then you’re going to bankrupt your family, which will make them hate you for dying.  At first the idea of spending money on something so ghoulish was disturbing.  It’s the ultimate example of paying for something you will not get to enjoy.  Like paying into Social Security.  Then it dawned on me; I have the power to dictate my own swansong.  I’ve been to a lot of funerals that were obviously part of a list of options the funeral home already has in place.  It’s an awful time when you lose a loved one and it’s a lot easier to just choose package B, that comes with this price range coffin, this type of flowers, and one of the many soothing musical choices.  It’s perfectly understandable that a family in this situation would take the easiest possible option, but what if you planned ahead?

For one thing, no one at your funeral is under oath.  I don’t plan to settle for a formulaic sermon from a minister I’ve never met.  I plan to have a eulogy delivered by a minister who has never met me all right, because he’s going to be reading a eulogy written by me and it’s going to be chock-full of lies.  Mourners are going to walk out of that service with a whole new appreciation of me.  They’ll stand around before heading to the graveside discussing how they had no idea I saved all those kids from that burning orphanage.  What a surprise that a guy who talked about himself so much never once mentioned his Nobel Prize.  How modest he was, they’ll say.  “I had no idea he was a marine”, one would say.  Another would mention my relentless efforts to eliminate homelessness.  Sure, they could hear a true eulogy, which would amount to saying; “He was married for a really long time, and is not leaving his wife with crushing debt because he didn’t plan his funeral.”

Oh, and don’t think for one second I won’t be making an appearance.  I might not look like George Clooney now, but I’m sure I look better than I’m going to look just before I have my very disappointing visit to the Pearly Gates.  Lately I’ve been thinking about going ahead and shooting my final farewells.  I just won’t mention anyone by name because there’s no telling who is going to idiot themselves right out of my final farewell between now and then.

Then comes the really fun part; the visit to the graveside.  People might not remember my tearful goodbye or the minister’s stirring description of my many heroic deeds, but that tombstone is going to be there until the dinosaurs come back and you’d better believe it’s going to be big, have my face carved into it, and have a long list of the lies I made that poor minister read.

And the last demographic?  It’s just 65+.  Anything over 65 is apparently considered bonus time.