ince the advent of streaming television, one thing I’ve been pleased about is that I don’t have to watch as many commercials. Frankly, they haven’t gotten any better in 30 years and if I see that jungle law commercial one more time, I might throw my flat screen out the window.
There is only one commercial I look forward to seeing and it’s for an insurance company. No. It’s not the one with the lizard, or the Wednesday camel, and certainly not that obnoxious Flo lady. It’s the “Dr. Rick” commercials where the eponymous Dr. Rick helps 30 and 40-somethings who have “turned into their parents.” There’s one commercial where Dr. Rick helps a lady who is speaking loudly on a speakerphone in a restaurant. “Now, you see, you’re speaking on the speakerphone. Is that something you should do?” There’s one where three men are watching a teenager with blue hair walk past them and Dr. Rick is trying to keep them from commenting. It is one of the few commercials I can remember that I will rewind to watch.
What I didn’t realize is that these commercials end up being “how to” manuals for my own evolution into my parents. I suppose this is inevitable for everyone at some point, but it happened to smack me in the face pretty loudly this past week.
There’s one Dr. Rick commercial where a client walks up to someone in a hardware store and just strikes up a conversation. “Did this gentleman ask you for help?” “No. No he didn’t.” This is a staple of my father. Ed can walk up to just about anyone, anywhere and offer assistance or talk about the weather. Sure enough, I was at an event recently where a family walked in and gazed out over the basketball court near me. For some reason, my inner Ed Kamler decided to say “you could just run right out there and take some shots! Those ballplayers won’t mind.” Why? I immediately heard Dr. Rick tell me “did that family ask for you to strike up a conversation?”
From my mother, I received somewhat of the opposite gift. My mom is known as the “friend to the friendless.” She will catch someone’s gaze and something in her face screams, “please come talk to me and tell me what you had for lunch or how your child is misbehaving in the Hobby Lobby.” Dr. Rick would instruct her to simply end the conversation with a smile and go about her day. I haven’t learned from Dr. Rick, apparently, as I was late for a doctor’s appointment the other day when someone caught the elevator right behind me. Ten minutes later, I’d heard about this man’s grandmother’s emergency appendectomy. Thankfully, she’s expected to pull through. Dr. Rick would be disappointed in me.
Sure. We all eventually take on traits of our parents and there really shouldn’t be any shame in those. Except this one. It happened this weekend, but first, let me tell you a story that started five years ago. When my dad first got his cell phone, it took years for him to learn to text. Then, for several more years, the only texts we got from him were “k.” Dad? Are you home? “K” Dad? Did you make your doctor’s appointment? “K.” Eventually he skipped over typing and went straight to Mr. Google’s speech to text feature. “Google, please tell me when Kansas basketball plays next.” At least he says please. This was all for the humor of our family until this past weekend.
I was trying to track down my son to see if I needed to bring him home some food. So I elicited the speech to text feature of my phone. The text read, “Brett comma do you need me to bring you any food since you just got back from practice question mark” Blindly, I hit SEND and I got a lightning-fast response of a crying-laughing emoji. Upon reflection I realized that Mr. Google translated my punctuation and instantly added fifteen years to my age.
Dr. Rick no longer returns my texts period sad face emoji.
(Get more from Chris Kamler and his need for Dr. Rick by following him on Twitter as @TheFakeNed)