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Saturday, June 17, 2006


Tiny Little Signs of the Apocolypse

With all the evil in the world these days, there are plenty of really huge reasons to be pissed off. Between the fifty-thousand places in the world that are teetering on full-on civil war (Sri Lanka, Somalia, Iraq, etc.); the general limp-dickedness of the Democratic Party; the break-neck toboggan slide of American culture and the ticking doomsday clock that is global warming, there's just a wealth of reasons for cranky folk like me to hate the world.

But I find that it's still the little things that mean the most.

For example, there's a service industry trend that's got me ready to jump over the counter and strangle whatever cash-register jockey throws it at me. I don't know if this is nation-wide or just here in New York, but I'm increasingly finding that a retail clerk will look at a line of customers and say, "Can I help the following customer?"

I cannot overstate how much this is akin to someone taking a cheese grater to every nerve in my body. It's "next". That's all. You don't get paid for adding extra fucking syllables, so why not just stick with the word "next"? I don't get it. Is it meant to sound classier? It doesn't. It sounds wrong.

You should not be asking for "the following" guest unless you then specifically name the guest whose presence at the counter you're requesting. "Following", in this context, does not mean "next". If you're that fucking fired up to get away from the word "next", then use a thesaurus and come with something that's actually appropriate. Like "subsequent". "Can I help the subsequent guest?" That sounds pretentious and stupid, but it's at least proper syntax. So, retail clerks who ask to help "the following guest" are invited to lick the following balls: mine. (See, that's an appropriate use of the word "following".)

I'm also driven to fits of rage, or at least disgusted bewilderment, by the ad campaign for a new show on ABC Family. The show is called Kyle XY and the entire marketing campaign is based on the fact that the main character doesn't have a belly button.

In the televised commercials, one of the characters says, "He doesn't have a belly button" and then we see a close-up of a belly button-less torso. The print ads show a young man hiking up his shirt to reveal that he doesn't have a belly button.

That's the hook? That's it? Is ABC Family so completely pathetic that their marketing people sat around thinking, "Okay, what about this show is so compelling that people are going to see it and just have to watch? Oh! The 'no belly button' thing! What a freaky and fascinating detail!"

I mean, there's got to be more to it than that, right? I'm guessing it's meant to be some sort of sci-fi thing, so is there some kind of fun conspiracy in store or did Disney produce thirteen episodes of a show where a family tries to find this kid's belly button? Or maybe he's a candidate for the world's first belly button transplant. Or perhaps he's meant to be a superior being because he doesn't have to worry about the whole lint thing. I don't know. There just has to be something else about the series that they could have promoted.

And these are the types of things I spend my time thinking about. I'm a sad, sad little man.

I've never heard a single person say "Can I help the following customer" but I agree, that would bug the crap out of me. And you have to admit, the belly-button free torso does look freaky.
c'mon. the kyle xy show looks cool. i mean, it looks really weird not to have a belly button - and i want to know why he doesn't have one. is he an alien? a test tube government experiment? or???
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