The Icy Hand of Death Hogs the Remote

There is an advertisement on TV that has quickly vaulted onto my list of Things That Make Me Want To Set My Face On Fire. Perhaps you’ve seen it, which would explain the extensive facial scarring.

The scene opens up with a normal schlub sitting at his computer. Behind him stalks his clearly pregnant wife. She has the kind of face that suggests she has thus far spent her life spreading malice and despair; perhaps as a telemarketer or an angry Tiki god. It’s hard to say. The guy wears a faintly haunted look that suggests the early stages of Stockholm Syndrome. Anyway, he’s kind of dicking with his computer, tapping at it with the desultory air that men have at the keyboard when they know they won’t be looking at pornography.

Then you hear a sound like old bones being gnawed by hungry ghouls. Oh, right, it’s the wife speaking. “You know, starting a family means getting a new car,” she hisses in a nice wifely way. It does? Never mind, you poor shithead! Run! Run while she’s heavy with your unfortunate child! Start a new life as a lemur wrangler in Madagascar! Anything! Don’t doom yourself to this!

“Right,” he sighs, tapping away. Oh well. A weary voice-over is mumbling some baffling, meaningless horseshit, but you pay no attention, because of the vast horror of the scene unfolding.

She looks at the screen. “A sports car?” Her voice is loaded with poison. He hangs his head, and you hear his spine creak. It’s like watching someone slowly being eviscerated. He fearfully clacks some more with his desperate fingers. The sad droning of the voice-over slouches into audibility again, drops off its hopeless freight of by-now irrelevant information, and recedes.

“A sedan?” She’s all but filing her teeth now, and there’s a screaming voice in your head. “A SEDAN IS FINE! A SEDAN IS FINE!” No, nothing is fine in this world. She speaks again, and somewhere birds fall dead. “We’re talking . . . family.” This last word spoken in a tone suggesting dark, religious overtones of a uniquely Faustian variety. Even the boneless schlub can’t quite process this turn of events, and mounts a defense not unlike that of the Cincinnati Bengals. You want to cheer weakly when he turns in his chair to confront her, but it’s too cruel to entertain hope now. You sit morosely, vaguely wondering why life is so terrible. But he has apparently picked up your madly broadcasting alpha wave message, because he despairingly reasons your very thoughts: “It’s a sedan.” Her implacable response comes like the distant croon of a lonely wraith. “It’s too smaaa-aaalll.”

“What . . . kind of family are we talking about?” he quavers, because now, like you, he is flailing around in a mind-shattering welter of panic and dread. What the fuck is going on? Marat/Sade is starting to look like a merry episode of Three’s Company compared to this.

She grins with a mouthful of angry little teeth. She pulls something from an envelope, and you feel the temperature drop ten degrees; your blood is jellied mercury. She holds up a false-color sonogram showing . . . three babies. Three tiny incubating souls waiting to erupt into this dismal world, where horrors happen every day, horrors like this fucking commercial; and they will probably grow up to produce commercials like this; and they will cackle with mad laughter.

The man is now, you see, utterly pithed by this image. All lucidity sluices from him like so much cold water, and you see him give over into pure, gibbering surrender. On a fundamental level, he is no longer alive; he is now simply her automaton, to be maneuvered as thoughtlessly as a mannequin. He grins jerkily, and tries horribly to emulate human behavior. He clacks lifelessly at the keys. “A minivan,” he jabbers in a stale voice. The beaten voice-over once more drifts into cognizance, and you manage to hear the perpetrators of this death-carnival. “,” intones the voice, which, you can tell now, was recorded in a dank basement with no light and no hope of escape.

It’s over. The commercial is over. And so are we all. These are the end times, and you can thank