by Jason Love
September 20, 2004
It started with Peter the Re-fi Guy, a recording that calls daily: "Did you know that we can refinance your home..." I don't have the heart to tell him that I rent. Besides, he'd just call back anyway.
Then I was sorting through the junk mail -- bribes to switch phone plans, pre-rejection for MasterCards, 16,000 urgent pleas for charity. Somewhere in the distance a forest cried.
On the radio played a jingle for the once-in-a-lifetime, buy-this-or-die Toyotathon. I hummed along despite my best efforts to stop.
The TV turned on, and a man shouted at me to buy his ab machine, quickly, before my life took an irretrievable lunge down the toilet. I changed the channel and found the Dodgers centerfielder making a catch between the IBM and Fed Ex signs.
The fax rang. It was Peter the Re-fi guy faxing his way in.
Then I was at the computer checking spam. Scads of people wanted to uplift my manhood. Others offered to be my pill dealer, and the Ambassador to Ishtumtuku urgently needed me to open a bank account and manage his ten jillion dollars.
E-mail disappeared to a series of pop-ups. Every time I closed one, two more emerged. Software was installed, my homepage changed, and the furniture in my house was rearranged. So it goes.
I bolted outside for relief. An airplane droned by with a banner for Bicardi. The neighbor, checking his junk mail, asked if I were okay. He wore a T-shirt for the once-in-a-lifetime, buy-this-or-die Toyotathon.
"Just a little dizzy," I said.
"That's good," he said. "Hey, I've been meaning talk to you about Amway..."
I grabbed my keys and hit the road.
The traffic guy warned about congestion due to a leaflet storm; then he turned into Krusty the Clown and said, "This report was brought to you by Verizon High-Speed Internet, which delivers spam twice as fast as your old dial-up..."
A toddler was watching car commercials inside a car!
I pulled off the highway for a car -- I mean, a drink. I stood outside of Ralph's, separated from the entrance by a solicitor gauntlet: Girl Scouts, Red Cross, the Times, panhandlers, out-of-season Santas...
Fleeing on foot for the church, I found a pastor addressing his congregation. He gazed out from under his Nike visor and said, "God saith unto Moses, 'Do it, son. Just do it."
I ran past the billboards and rent-a-benches, screaming, "Take it! Take it all! Sell me a car! Change my phone plan! Give me the extended warranty!..."
I floated to the sky, from where I saw my own tombstone. It was sponsored by Taco Bell.
At which point I heard a beautiful sound.
"Baby, are you all right?"
It was my wife.
"Wake up," she said. "You're having a nightmare."
I peered into her angel eyes,
liberated from the torture. The bed was damp, and we'll just
say it was perspiration. I thanked my wife in kisses on the forehead.
And though I was deeply relieved, there was something ominous
about the way she left humming the Toyota jingle.
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