Monday, April 13, 2009
Hell is a timeshare pitch in Branson on Easter
It was a pretty low circle of hell: Yesterday I sat through a timeshare sales pitch in Branson, Missouri - on Easter Sunday!
My wife is not from this country, and she got suckered in by some nice lady trying to sell her discounted tickets to ghastly musical theater shows at an IHOP. I was not at the counter with her at the time to translate from apparent smalltown niceties to guerilla marketing sleaze.
I would say, "At least we didn't end up listening to corny one-liners or flaccid bluegrass or watching Chinese acrobats," but all of those things would have taken up less time and been much more entertaining than the sleazy thing we did sit through.
I wish she would have just bought the stupid theater tickets. There is a stain of economic sleaze and disengenuous hucksterism on my soul that may never go away.
I have been a lucky guy, up until now. I was born and raised resourceful and determined enough to avoid much of what I wished to avoid in this world. I have always been ready to call bullshit "bullshit," regardless of consequences, and had the gumption to walk away from fools or evil people while their mouth was still moving and producing sounds, ostensibly for my benefit.
I have managed to cover St. Louis politics for three years without making any deals with the devil or convincing myself that this is just the way it is and I might as well play along for some fantasy of a greater good. I will preserve my soul.
But this one, I had to sit still for, because I didn't sign up for it, but the signing up for it also signed me up for it. And the very next thing I had to do was ride in an enclosed car with the person who did sign up for it, and who likes to keep her word - even when she gave her word to a front person for sleazy hucksterism that preys upon a beautiful thing: the vacation fantasies of the middle class.
My wife grew up in an inner city in West Africa and learned English while cleaning hospitals and waiting tables in New York City. So though she certainly figured out that this sales pitch was sleazy and evil once it got underway, she later thought it was ridiculous to hear it described as a low point in my life.
It was a low point in my life - the epitome of all that I usually manage to avoid. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, physically and spiritually, and I had to sit there and take it. It was worse than bootcamp with the U.S. Navy. It was almost as bad as reading one-sided, misleading half-truths from St. Louis officials printed with a straight face and no opposition in the Post-Dispatch.
It was a low, low circle of hell.
Image of the 9th Circle of Hell by Suloni Robertson from a University of Texas site devoted to Dante's Inferno.