Michele Bender photo

Michele Mikesic Bender

Three weeks ago, I gave up television.

“Basic” cable (22 channels ... ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ION, educational channels 3 and 13, Pittsburgh CW and Happy Valley randomly alternating, two religious channels, two public service channels – one for folks who want to wish Gramma Popover a happy 89th birthday, and another to inform us that the Upper Antelope Township business office operates from 9 to 3 daily).

And the remaining nine channels? Shopping, shopping, shopping. Late-night viewers get endless infomercials: reverse mortgages, air-brush spray-on make-up, copper cookware, Total Gym or Peloton and The Pillow Man.

FYI, Pillow Man has added a mattress topper to his merchandise line. What this means to the public is that he will never shut up.

Peloton ads feature young, sinewy fitness fanatics (none of whom probably weigh over 135 pounds – men included) pedaling wildly and sweating buckets. One spot shows a glassy-eyed young woman who looks like her head is about to explode. Her partner suggests, “Maybe you should take a break.”

“Just ... huff ... huff ... one more ... (gasp) ... mile,” she replies.

I don’t miss TV like I thought I would. It’s not like I’m locked in a cell, x-ing off numbered days.

I did not get $123 worth of entertainment from my 22 channels. In fairness, that price included an internet connection for my laptop.

I don’t miss the Charmin bears with their shiny heinies; I don’t miss the Stay-Puft Pillow Man yammering; and most of all, I don’t miss shamefully stupid LiMu the Emu and his pal Doug.

Each November, I usually pitch a hissy fit over repetitive, annoying and tasteless Christmas commercials. In the past, we’ve been bombarded with pricey jewelry pitches, smart phones, Toyotas and Hanes underwear.

The week before Christmas, advertisers dust off Chia Pets, talking wristwatches and Clappers.

I can tune in retro TV shows that were my faves. I found YouTube channels with “Moonlighting,” “Homicide,” “Life on the Street,” “Route 66,” “Police Story” and “Banacek.”

I traded “Mama’s Family” (blecchh!) for “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

If and when I need to shop, I type in what I want and a page displays information, locations and prices. I initiate the shopping; I’m not shopped at! 

Of course, they have commercials online, but even those are ones I like. The new VW’s are cute. Smile Direct treats me to happy folks sharing their $85 grins. And Gus, the second-most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania, can sell me a rub-off anytime!

I’m delighted to add that my very favorite advertising icon, the Chantix Cold Turkey, is also online. I’ve never smoked in my life. I won’t even allow candles on my birthday cakes.

But last spring, when I first saw CT, the commercial blew me away. He was floating in his pool, then did yard work. The detail and (I guess) animation fascinated me.

In the next ad, he went camping. In August, he drove to the beach with his surfboard. These remind me of the original Geico gecko ads, clever and original.

However, nothing will ever replace the ingenuity and “adorability” (I love to invent words) of the Golden Retriever family in the Subaru.

How cool would it have been if Gertrude, our famous Johnstown peacock, would have traveled to California and met CT? I mean, the guy has a great house with a pool, is fit and active, and has a good-paying job.

If they mated, though, they would have created one of those “designer breeds.”

What do you think? Teacock or Purkey? OK. I’ll stop now.

Gobble, gobble!

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and regular community columnist for The Tribune-Democrat.​ She can be reached at MsGeezerette@aol.com.

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