By Rick Reynolds Call me squeamish, but I don’t think “death” is an okay side effect for an acne medicine. How did we get to this point?Today, we are pelted with TV drug advertising for every malady known— and some we never knew we had until the commercial made us feel the symptoms. Take “Avodart” for instance. I hear the word “dart” targeted at me and I instantly visualize my bladder springing a leak. The name screams, “INCOMING.” Who came up with the name, “Avodart”? Punish that person! So too, headache medicine commercials effectively affect migraines. Indeed, all drug commercials leave me with the symptoms they purport to cure. After a night of TV watching, I’m so paranoid I feel like taking all my meds–and everyone else’s. And what must our kids think about Baby Boomers, with their overactive bladders– or their weak streams, either suffering from a dysfunctional penal system–or a stiff sentence of 10-hours or more – likely in solitary confinement. Our children must think we’re an embattled population of frantic, frisky, frustrated freaks imprisoned in our infirmities. Even if true, we don’t want our grown kids kicking us off Universal Healthcare as just another bad investment. Beyond this, I guarantee you, kids don’t want to think about the “moment being right” for their parents. EEEUwe!!! Moreover, kids aren’t fooled when the couple exchange dreamy glances and then take in a night at the opera. They know the “opera” is a metaphor. They learned what metaphors are in 6th grade English. Besides, in the commercial before, teenagers see their moms and dads in separate bathtubs, which, incidentally, they must think could be their parents’ problem. But this article isn’t about that.
Rather, this is about the drug commercial disclaimers. At first they hired speed readers to go through a blizzard of hazards, many quite dire. Then, after it was discovered that the MTV generation could actually make out some of the words, they moved the flurry of alarming drug reactions to the head of the commercial and added a pause in the hopes that viewers would think the disclaimer was part of the previous commercial. Now, we have the calm, reassuring, female voice that slowly goes through the grim consequences as if they were minor nuisances. We learn in soothing tones that our meds can sometimes cause drowsiness, baldness, incontinence, internal bleeding, irritability, homicidal thoughts, memory loss, and death– not to mention, dry mouth. I’m sorry, but I find dry mouth an unacceptable side effect. Now, however, we have the Academy Award winner of all drug disclaimers. Cymbalta says their product can lead to “abnormal dreams.” Abnormal dreams?! What the hell are normal dreams?
I don’t know about you, but my dreams are beyond weird– without medication. I dream of running from kiosk to kiosk, NAKED, in Grand Central Station, desperately seeking a gum wrapper to hide behind. I dream of doing a broad jump and never coming down, or biting the Earth at an altitude of 3 feet. I dream of my little 2-year old daughter getting on a subway car while my back is turned, and what my wife will do to me when she learns our toddler is somewhere in Flatbush. I dream of not being able to find my math classroom and missing class for an entire semester– and hoping no one notices. And these are just my recurring dreams. My other dreams are really freaky, disjointed collages of strangeness. So when a drug company says their product can cause “abnormal dreams,” I’m thinking, no thanks; I’ll just have a warm glass of milk and go to bed. Chappaqua alumnus and 35 year resident of Chappaqua, humorist Rick Reynolds resides in southern New Hampshire with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.