Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Warning: Post Not Related to Baseball. It is, however, related to commercials that play during baseball games, if that makes you feel better.

There is some commercial for some company that has a gorilla talking to a couple about something. At the end, he says with a feigned modest tone that he is “just the 800-lb gorilla in the room”. The first time I saw this I mentioned to my wife that the ad team has created an amalgam of two common sayings. It was my impression that you had one saying where things were “an 800 pound gorilla”. Actually, I thought it was 500-lb, but I’m willing to acquiesce on this detail. It was my understanding that the implication of something being this proverbial gorilla was that it could do whatever it wanted. It was also my understanding that this saying was an allusion to the grade school level joke, “What does a 500 pound gorilla do?... (wait for it)… Whatever it wants.” Ha.

Then, there was a completely different saying that something could be “the elephant in the back of the room.” Again, I’m going with my personal understanding, but I thought this was supposed to be something you were hesitant to talk about, but you may as well, because it’s what’s on everyone’s mind.

Well, now all the sudden there’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room. I have no freakin’ idea what this is supposed to mean. Evidently, it’s a know-it-all simian who gives good advice on insurance or stocks or something. Can anybody lend any thoughts on this? Am I the only one who has noticed this? I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who cares, but this is an effort to extend that distinction beyond myself.

Your question to me may be, “why do you care?” Here’s why. Misinformation spreads quickly and if this thing isn’t nipped in the bud, not one, but two clever little colloquialisms will be lost forever and they will be replaced by a murkier, clumsier one that is less than the sum of its parts.

More importantly, I will not have a repeat of a fifth grade experience that nearly drove me insane at a young age. It happened when Pete Rose broke the hit record. The teacher asked the class how many hits he had to get to break the record. I shot my hand in the air and had to listen to idiotic guess after guess that was WAY off. “Six thousand hits? Really? So he gets, what, three hundred hits a year for twenty years? What’s that make his career batting average? .500? Idiot. You don’t deserve to be in the fifth grade.” I’ve always been very serious about baseball, you see. When she finally called on me I said with certainty: 4,192. This exercise was over, because that was it. I knew because it was Ty Cobb’s record he was breaking and Ty Cobb is the greatest and perhaps most famous Tiger of all time.

But, to my great distress, the teacher treated this as a democratic endeavor and proceeded to have the class VOTE on what they believed to be the correct answer. When they “voted for” the wrong answer, I was inexplicably mocked for being wrong. Here’s the kicker: she didn’t bring in a newspaper article to validate my correct response. This wasn’t some trick experiment to teach us a lesson about bad information. It was evidently a direct attempt to drive anybody with the correct answer insane. In twenty-five kids’ uninformed brains, Pete Rose broke the hits record with some number of hits beside 4,192. It was like something out of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. That’s Mark Twain, I think. Unless my fifth grade class voted on it being Dickens and history was re-written to accommodate them.

To bring that little anecdote back to the point, I’m right on this giant ape/elephant thing. If I don’t get the word out quickly, people are going to be looking at me like I’ve lost my mind when it is clearly they who have had a schism from reality. After all, this is some big high-priced ad firm – clearly they are the ones who have it right, and not me. It’s already starting because when I stated my case to my wife, she looked concerned for my well-being and the state of my mental health. Dammit, they may have already won.

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