Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sugar, Fat and Pills

A few days into our (very) recent trip to the U.S. Jasper turned to me and said, "Sometimes I think the U.S. is all about sugar, fat and pills." Two things should be mentioned. First off, Jasper is most definitely not one of those arrogant European snobs who tend to be blatantly anti-American (and yes, there are plenty of those, though their statements and opinions are often incredibly ignorant.) He loves the U.S. and is always praising the friendly, open West Coast manner, one he clearly prefers to the stick-shoved-way-up-into-the-nether-regions-of-the-anus of your typical Berliner. In fact, there have been times that I've been the one who had to remind him that there are some things wrong with the country.

Secondly, we stayed almost the entire time with my mom in Alameda, California, not in some redneck hamlet in Western Texas. Her Victorian apartment is a ten minute walk to restaurants, cafes and shops where we went everyday as well as Crown Beach, a sandy, albeit somewhat dowdy strip of beach facing the Bay. So much of the food and produce in the Bay Area is fresh and delicious. San Francisco is filled with wonderful restaurants and we (once again) had one of the best meals of our lives at The Olema Inn near Point Reyes National Seashore.

Still, so many of the portions in the restaurants where we ate were absurdly huge but also so delicious that we of course ate every bite. And even in the ever-environmentally conscious Bay Area people still use their cars A LOT. So much of our time was spent driving from point a to point b, walking around a little and then getting back in the car and driving home. That combined with the monstrous meals and sweets that were beyond sweet made us both soon feel like a big slab of butter in desperate need of being churned....

Still, we probably would have been just fine if we hadn't watched The Terminator one night when we stayed at a beach house in Sea Ranch which we had arranged through a home exchange (more on that later.) There we were, cuddled up on the futon with a glass of wine, wondering why the hell the Süddeutsche Zeitung named Terminator one of the best 100 movies of all times (though I used to love watching Predator and Total Recall with my dad and brothers, so I wouldn't call myself an Arnie snob....) What was much more disturbing, however, were the commercial breaks.

Every single time there was at least one spot advertising some sort of miracle pill. Having trouble with occasional abdominal pain? Try Lexadrin. Allergies got your goat? Give them a run for their money with Alepren. Can't get it up? Go for Viagra (well, duh...) I like the racy disclaimer that you should consult your doctor if you have an erection for over 4 hours. But then again, all of the ads say you should consult your doctor. What they don't mention is that he or she is likely to receive a kick-back...

I've seen these ads before of course. I think they started in the late 90s right before I left the country for good. Still, it's shocking to see how much they have increased. As of now, it is still illegal to advertise for prescription medicine in Germany. Frankly, I think that is a very good thing.


petoskystone said...

i'm so inured to these commercials, i just tune them out. although, i do keep wondering who exactly is foolish enough to buy something solely on the basis of such obvious propaganda. glad you enjoyed your trip, terminator notwithstanding.

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Hah! Jasper is, I think, correct, except on one point. The US is all about high fructose corn syrup, not sugar. If you want sugar in your Coke you have to import it from Mexico now. But yeah, point taken. (My dad is a newly-retired sugar salesman, full disclosure.) The pill commercials are so ridiculous and hilarious. I won't get started on the pills themselves. But wait--you saw pill commercials? I thought there wasn't any room for them with all the mid-term election commercials running!

Schaufensterbabe said...

Thanks ladies. And Karen, I'll let Jasper know about high fructose corn syrup. ;)


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