I fully support the concept of irony. I was convinced years ago that, if you become familiar with it and recognize it when it happens, you’ll have an easier time coping with the larger injustices of life. You don’t have to necessarily embrace it, or take it out to dinner, but trust me when I say it will make your life a lot easier to figure out.
Today’s example of this concept jumped out at me from the pages of a magazine targeted for adults. (Here’s a hint: it wasn’t Boy’s Life
.) Actually it was a bi-fold ad, one of those annoyances that falls out of your monthly periodical and onto the bathroom floor at a time when you’re really concentrating on other matters. This one did exactly as it was designed to do: fall out and away from its glossy paged brethren just so it could entice, cajole, and otherwise seduce me into buying its product.
We’ve all seen these come-ons. Sometimes it’s advertising a limited edition turquoise and zirconium trinket that your wife will never wear, even though the photo on the ad shows a typical adult female (usually dressed in an off the shoulder gown) smiling giddily at the prospect of wearing the trinket in question. Or it will be a limited edition jackknife authorized by the estate of some Hollywood icon that appeals to the rugged manliness of the not-Boy’s-Life
readership. (Actually I don’t get the connection between jackknives and Snub Pollard, but who am I to say?) Or it’s something else that some Madison Avenue nimrod thought would be a great product to advertise in a not-Boy’s-Life
In this case, the product was an alcoholic libation otherwise and heretofore known as wine. The ad touts that you can “Save $100 on 12 Super Rich Reds”. The front of the ad shows two rows of wine bottles from various vintners dutifully and tastefully grouped for the reader’s perusal. A large red circle screams “Only $69.99”.
Underneath the photo of the tastefully rowed bottles is the name of the distributor - which I will withhold because they paid the publishers of Not-Boy’s-Life
to advertise, but didn’t send a red cent to arteejee with a note that the entire ad production is a “Supplement to Not-Boy’s-Life
“Wow," I thought, “How wonderful that the editors of Not-Boys-Life
would think so highly of me to advertise this offer for my benefit and entertainment. Sign me up!”
So the reader naturally opens the bi-fold ad — so designed so that the reader’s curiosity will make them open it up — for more details. And, if I do say so myself, the details are gloriously spelled out. Twelve more bottles are tastefully displayed with their names and descriptions artfully articulated under the illustration of each bottle. There is also a letter written by the president of the company offering these fine beverages, with no less than six bullet points telling me why his offer is so wonderful. The letter is signed by Tony (last name withheld because he didn’t send a red cent to arteejee to publish his ad).
Another unfolding brings the reader to the actual order form where the reader can fill out the vital details of where the wonderful slice of heaven can be shipped, how he can pay for it and...wait, what’s this small print at the bottom of the page? Oh, it’s the disclaimer; that dreaded legalese which spells out the nuances of the offer, but mostly tells you where the offer is prohibited by law
. At this point, the ad lists the abbreviations for the states where they can ship their offer.
Okay, they say that future shipments can be sent to Arizona, California, all the states beginning with the letter I through N, Ohio and Oregon can get wine shipped to them, then South Carolina and Tennessee...wait, wait, wait, wait, wait...where’s PA? Why isn’t Pennsylvania listed here? Does this mean that I, as a resident with a domicile which happens to be located within the borders of Pennsylvania, cannot partake of this wonderful elixir known as wine?
Sadly, tragically, the answer is yes! “Oh, curses,” I say with my clenched fist positioned melodramatically at my forehead. “Drat and forsooth! Why should I and my fellow residents be forsaken? Alas, done in again by antiquated state laws which deprive me and my fellow Keystoners of the soothing, warming effects of an out-of-state dry red."
Now comes the ironic part. Oh, you remember the concept of irony? I spoke of its virtues not more than 700 words ago.
Anyway, the reader — or those readers who can legally purchase these liquids - turns to the last page where they can mail their completed form, their first step towards alcoholic nirvana. The form can be sent to a post office box in Montoursville. The letters PA are printed after the word Montoursville. Now do you see where this is going?
That’s right! Montoursville, as in a hop, skip and a jump from where my brother and mother live in central Pennsylvania. Montoursville, as in “You can’t get much more inside of Pennsylvania than you can in Montoursville, PA!!” Montoursville, where we can locate a company that can ship wine to most other states of the union as long as that state is not Pennsylvania! This has got to be the ultimate in irony!
(insert Alanis Morissett song here)
So, dear reader, here is a sure sign that distinguishs the stereotypical Pennsylvanian from the other stereotypical residents of the other 49 states. We are the ones who are clutching a gun in one hand, the Bible in the other (a tip of the hat to the President for that one), who live where our roads are pitted with potholes, our children are stupid as hell due to state budget cutbacks, but our elections will be unsullied by the threat of fraud, (and a tip of my middle finger to Governor Corbett for these), and oh yes, how could I forget, where the residents are DYING OF THIRST!!!!!
This injustice to Pennsylvania’s collective thirst is due to one man in our state’s history: Gifford Pinchot. Recognized as a progressive, he served as the first head of the US Forestry Service. In this respect, he did wonders for the cause of preserving our natural resources. Three cheers for Gifford Pinchot!
Later, as Governor of the Keystone State, he was a strong supporter of (dramatic piano chords crescendo up) Prohibition. On the eve of the rest of the country coming out of the social nightmare which was Prohibition, Pinchot prevailed upon the state legislature to make the purchase of liquor “as expensive and inconvenient as possible.” It is these antiquated laws passed by the Pennsylvania legislature at the behest of the governor in 1933 — and still on the books - which prevents me from having wine shipped to me from another location outside Pennsylvania. Boo, boo, boo Gifford Pinchot!
Fear not, fellow Keystoners, for help may be on the horizon. There has been an elevation in the movement to privatize the state Liquor Control Board, which could also mean that someday soon we may also know the joys and convenience of having cases of our favorite reds, roses or whites shipped to our front doors.
My tongue is hanging dryly, ironically, out of my mouth in anticipation.(Thank you for reading. Full disclosure: this entry was written under the influence of a Long Island Ice Tea. In those spirits, I will raise my glass to the memory of Gifford Pinchot: Bottoms up, governor!)