Thursday, February 12, 2015

Criss Cross

My East Coast Doppelgänger and fellow ad blogger, George Tannenbaum and I, decided we'd do something different today. We wrote guest columns for each other's blogs. You can find mine at And you can enjoy George's, who doesn't give himself nearly enough credit for being funny, right here. Oh and don't be ashamed if you have to look up some words in the dictionary, George is much more erudite than me.

Not long ago, Rich, Mr. Round Seventeen himself, and I decided we’d trade places for a day. I’d write a post for his blog—though I’m not nearly as funny as he, and he’d write a post for mine.

I should say at the outset that my friendship with Rich is an odd one. We’ve never met, never spoken. We’ve tried to get together whenever I am shooting in LA, but we’ve never made it work. Usually something to do with uxorial demands or the fact that I tend to fall asleep by 9:30 PM.

Despite that distance, Rich and I are friends. We’re both “men of a certain age,” members of the Tribe, and copywriters. We’ve both enjoyed fair-to-middling success in our careers. First on staff at notable agencies, and now on the occasionally ball-crushing, if lucrative, freelance circuit.

There are many areas in which I cannot compete with Rich. Like I said, I’m not as funny as he. And while I am a bulldog in many ways, he’ll hold onto a bone and shake it to death even more vigorously than I will.

I’d have given up on the exercise machine that he bought that can’t be put together. Chalked the money up as lost. Dealt with my wife’s imprecations.

I’d never have gotten started with Mantu, on Tuesday or any other day. I don’t have the time or the patience.

The one thing I do do—yes, Rich, I know I said do do—is go toe to toe with Time-Warner cable, the worst cable provider except for the one you have.

My internet, which is supposed to be high-speed but is low speed in the way that a Starbuck’s small coffee is a tall, goes out on average six times a year. Always without notice, always without a note or a phone call about when they expect it to be back.

Whenever it happens to me, I summon up whatever reserves I have and I call Time-Warner.

When I finally get a human, I unload a tale.

I was in the Mekong Delta. From nowhere came rocket fire and a battalion of Viet Cong. A buddy, just 20 feet from me had his legs blown off. I scurried ahead and dragged him to safety.

Then I got hit. Small arms. Then a mortar. Then more small arms. Then another mortar. It was like target practice for them.

I finally woke up in a field hospital. Was transferred when I had stabilized to Tokyo. I would live…but without my arms and legs.

Do you know what life is like with no arms, no legs and no internet? I ask. The internet is my connection to the world. It’s how I communicate, socialize, how I order food and entertain myself.

I need my internet restored.

At this point, the Time-Warner man is sobbing.

“When can you come to my apartment?” I plead.

“We can have someone out to your place Thursday.”

“Thursday? That’s four days from now. You can’t have someone sooner—I HAVE NO ARMS AND LEGS!”

Now, if I were Rich, I would start a campaign about this. I’d figure a way to get it into a book, or a screenplay, or something.

But I’m from New York.

My jib isn’t cut that way.

I prefer throwing bricks through plate glass. And slashing the tires of every Time-Warner truck I see.


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