Smith Says: Long ago and far away

  • Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Long ago and far away (also known as the 1970s), an ad man named Gary Dahl made a fortune with a novelty known as the Pet Rock. The product was, for once, truth in advertising: It was a small, smooth rock nestled in excelsior in a cardboard box that looked like a pet carrying crate, with the words “Pet Rock” stenciled on the side. It also came with an instruction manual for training. Example: “To housebreak your Pet Rock, place it on several layers of newspapers. It will not move.” That was in 1975, and Dahl was wildly wealthy within six months: One million Pet Rocks were sold for $3.95 each. The wildly popular fad was featured in Johnny Carson’s monologue and on daytime talk shows, Top 10 gift lists and in magazine and newspaper articles. The Pet Rock was the perfect companion for people who didn’t want companionship. It was less of a commitment than, say, a Boston fern. Plus, it was a great icebreaker: Right after “What’s your sign?” you could say, “Would you like to come up and see my Pet Rock?” Like most fads do, eventually the Pet Rock went the way of the dodo bird. (If you absolutely can’t live without one, there are some up for adoption on e-Bay.) The Pet Rock has plenty of company—every decade, fads come and go: Hula Hoops, Frisbees, coonskin caps, Pokemon, Pogs, Earth shoes, Gumby and Pokey, Spuds McKenzie, Rubik’s Cube, mood rings, CB radios, Ouija boards, Dr. Scholl’s sandals, disco, acid-washed jeans… you get the picture. The reason for my rambling is that lots of people are shaking their heads over a new fad: Wedding rings with “I’m married” engraved on the inner band. The premise is that if an errant spouse removes his/her ring, they’ll see the words imprinted in their skin, and all parties will change their minds and turn from sin. It’s called the Anti-Cheating Ring (it’s copyrighted!) and the brain behind it is Colin Hart, who, of course, is sure it will work. Absolutely! And pigs just flew by my window. Hart says he designed the Anti-Cheating Ring with a few nasty men in mind, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods. Here’s a little ad copy for ya: Cost, $550. Made of strengthened titanium. Lifetime guarantee (til death do you part, yada yada.) OK, there are so many things wrong with this scenario. The “brand” will last what, 20 minutes at most? Then there’s the fact that many people on the prowl don’t care if you’re wearing a wedding ring or your spouse around your neck, they’re still going to roll the dice. Plus, if you need a dimpled finger to be reminded that you took a vow of fidelity in the sight of God and man, you don’t need a special ring. You need an eight-pound hammer upside your head. Life is long and complicated, and unfortunately I’ve known a few unfaithful married people. Believe me when I tell you none of them took their rings off. Conversely, I’ve known some who never wore wedding rings and remained faithful.  Jewelry has no bearing on adultery. Character does. If you’re committed, a naked Brad Pitt (or Jennifer Aniston) waving $5 million in cash won’t turn your head. If not, well… it’s just a matter of time before you meet the right skank. Rant over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a Rubik’s Cube. Julie R. Smith, who kind of enjoys ranting, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.                    

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