Unable to escape the claws of that particularly heavy brand of depression, I did what I knew would help: I switched gears from the mental to the physical. Getting on the treadmill and running has helped chase many a demon away in my life, and now I was desperately in need of a shift. With two miles down, and three still to go, I turned the TV on that was mounted in front of me. Mindlessly watching the shows and the commercials, I was grateful for the distraction until, what’s this?
I watched hot fudge being poured in slow-motion over mounds of ice cream as a female voice-over chirps,
“Come into Friendly’s this weekend for our free Happy Endings Sundae!”
What? Wait a minute…what did she just say?
Friendly’s? The family-friendly ice cream parlor chain, evocative of Norman-Rockwell-esque family get-togethers, everyone leaning into a table mirthfully sharing a gigantic banana split? That Friendly’s?
Is Friendly’s daft?
Or are they messin’ with us?
Can double entendres be slathered into a hot fudge sundae commercial?
Should I give them the benefit of the doubt?
Nah, if my sicko relative is right, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know these things nowadays. And I can’t imagine the big ad-exec that has the Friendly’s account, not knowing.
Well, that just pisses me off. Big-time! Who do they think they are, anyway, shoving their barely-camouflaged “jokes” down unsuspecting families’ throats? What kind of twisted despots are they anyway? They think they’re going to get away with trying to conceal sexual euphemisms under melted chocolate sauce? Who do they take us for?
Whipping on my imaginary Crusader cape, I hop off the treadmill and run out of the gym, and I keep on running till I get back to my apartment where I’ll turn on my computer and Google Friendly’s Ice Cream.
I need to find some really good reason they’re co-opting this term from the sex-for-sale trade, for an ice cream. “Happy endings” is a term mainstreamed from the dubious world of massage parlors that cannot quite advertise their real business: providing sex. A happy ending is a couple of oiled strokes to the body followed by the customers’ choice of attaining an orgasm, with the price varying with the amount of effort required by the, um, masseuse.
Call me humorless; call me shrill. Call me a hopeless pedant. I don’t care. But all this raunch culture seepage into our everyday language is surely a step towards madness.
On the way home, endorphins pumping from my run, I compose a missive in my head to Friendly’s telling them just what I think: that since they couldn’t possibly be that daft, that they must be messing with us, and that I will therefore never eat at Friendly’s again. That should get their attention. That I’d never eat there anyway due to their Muzak and bad lighting seems rather beside the point right now.
Finally I arrive home and I’m online now….Googling….Googling...There!
Third listing down, tucked in between something about desserts and saving money, in bold print and there it is: The Happy Endings Sundae!
I open up the link and see it’s not the main Friendly’s flagship homesite, it’s a website featuring the awesomely wonderful free sundae with the offensive name. The link is to a woman’s, named Julia Scott, website and pictured on her homepage is her latest bargain find:
A brand new Friendly’s all lit up and welcoming, with a perfectly PhotoShopped azure sky behind it. Facing this bucolic image from the side bar, is a chipper looking, widely smiling woman with large, suburbanized hair. Julia?
In cursive, girly-girl lettering like in Barbie ads, right across her photo, it says: Bargain Babe!
It does. I swear it. Google it yourself if you don’t believe me.
Oh my God, suddenly I cannot stop laughing.
The homemaker remade, as Bargain Babe! The hotness factor has officially rolled through suburbia, leaving no housewife unadorned and un-hot! Wow. Everyone’s jumpin’ on that bandwagon.
Julia, aka Bargain Babe, is heralding the latest bargain she’s dug up and shares it with us by writing:
“Get a free sundae when you buy any chicken strips entree. Choose from Friendly’s Signature, Honey BBQ, or Kickin’ Buffalo Chicken Strips. Each entree comes with coleslaw and a dipping sauce. The free sundae is called Happy Endings, which comes with two scoops of ice cream and one topping. I’ll take mint and chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup, please!”
Wow! You go right ahead and do that, Bargain Babe. I’m imagining Julia or Bargain Babe or whoever she really is, dragging hubby and the kids to Friendly’s to show off her expertise in sniffing out the free ice cream deals. When the waitress arrives to take her order, Bargain Babe, ever buoyant, will chirp, “I’ll take the Kickin’ Buffalo Chicken Strips with a Happy Ending, please!”
Will there be a straight face on any male in the establishment when that invariably happens? Will hubby be snickering subversively behind his menu?
Erase, erase, erase, I tell myself. I try to expunge this weirdness from my mind, to remember that there are still people who do not know about such things. People who have never been exposed to porn and have happy, sane lives.
What does my creepy relative know, anyway? He thinks about having sex with his relative, for God’s sake. With me! Ewwww.
Clearly, he needs help.
Wait! I’ve got it! Maybe the solution is to move to the country. People like the Amish have done that, and they seem pretty happy and none too disadvantaged. Even when deranged gunmen open fire in their schoolrooms, they live by their principles and do not resort to baser impulses.
Yeah, I could get a nice little wood cabin in the woods like they do, cut off the Internet and the TV and purge the incessant media images and concepts that perpetuate the message of: Bigger, Better, Faster, Hotter and More Sex, Sex, SEX all the friggin’ time!! And don’t forget to look HOT while doing it. Recent pregnancy is no excuse!
Yes. That is what I will do, move to the country and then allow my brain to rewire itself so that I’ll begin to take my sustenance from the birdsong and the wind in the trees. I will quit my gym membership and I will wear only comfortable clothes. My life will simplify. That can only be good.
The feasibility of that solution providing gratifying results is about equal to my chances of winning the lottery and buying one of those 20 million dollar penthouses. And then to keep up with all my friends from the Fabulosity Club, I’d still have to read those glossy magazines… with the ads for MILF gyms in them.
My fantasy fades into the stark reality that mere escapism will not be enough to buffer me from coarse, porn-derived terms being bandied about in my everyday life. No, I am a Manhattanite, this is where my work is, my roots are here, this is where I belong. I will not be driven away by crudeness.
So, although I am a witness to both advertising’s and popular culture’s glib use of terms and concepts from porn and raunch culture, I need to remember that porn is an imitation of life (at its very best). And I commit to living a real, fully-dimensional life in defiance of the inanity of what I see around me. There is no acronym or euphemism for that, but maybe it will catch on. I can only hope.
In the meantime, maybe right outside the door of the incredible penthouse apartment I’ll move into, there’ll be a nice, big rock in Central Park I can occasionally hide under.