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The Super Bowl has once again worked its magic. I have no doubt that somewhere in the American heartland, a youngster saw the action and was inspired to believe that one day his talent will be the focus of the nation.
You can be sure that he will practice at all hours to hasten that day. As he does so, he will recall the great Super Bowl moments and will dream the impossible dream, because there are no impossible dreams in America, there are just some with a high degree of difficulty.
And after that little boy has toiled and dreamed, the solemn time will come when he announces his inspirational career goal to his family.
Let me paint the scene: It is dinner time and Dad, framed by a shaft of sunset light streaming in through the window, has just said grace, seeking blessings for the president and the Congress and other unfortunate cases.
Mom, in her checked apron, is serving a heaping helping of fried chicken and corn slathered in butter, so that the kids will grow up big and chubby and won’t feel out of place at school. The family pet, a little fluffy dog, is busy competing with the family twins to see who can be cuter.
Now little Johnny pipes up, “Mom and Dad, after watching the Super Bowl, I have decided what I want to be when I grow up.”
But Mom is concerned. “Johnny, we are not the Manning family and your chances of becoming a professional football player are remote. You have to be very large to be a football player. Here, have some more fried chicken and corn.”
“No, no, Mom. I want to write Super Bowl ads. And, more than that, I want to write the greatest and most impressive ads in all America …”
“You mean, son,” says Dad, hardly daring to believe what he’s hearing, “you want to write the beer commercials?”
Yes, it is true, that’s what Johnny wants. He dreams of the highest pinnacle and he won’t settle for writing truck ads.
The whole family beams with pride. They know that the best minds in the nation, surely the fruit of Harvard and Yale, are employed in writing beer ads for the Super Bowl.
Savoring this only-in-America moment, Mom can imagine what will happen a few years hence, when the pesky lady next door announces, “Well, my son just graduated from medical school.” And she’ll be able to say, “Well, my son produced the commercial with the dog, the horse and the wagon.”
Let me hasten to add that little Johnny may be little Jane here. In our modern era, a woman is running for president, and any little girl can dream the impossible dream. Of course, the degree of difficulty might be higher because making beer commercials requires a keen sense of male beer drinker psychology — those gross and puerile instincts that the female mind at any age can only wonder at.
I will also allow that this heartwarming scenario is less likely to unfold this year than in past years. The triumph of Super Bowl XLIIVXIIV (note to copy desk, please check before putting in the paper) was that the game for once was far more interesting than the commercials.
Still, that first commercial with the guy who could light candles with his breath and then had an allergic reaction to the cat was written by a master of the beer-commercial craft, a veritable William Sudspeare. Surely, some kid somewhere felt the greatness.
But today I want to say to that kid, paraphrasing JFK: Ask not what beer commercial your country wants you to do, ask what commercial you should do for your country.
Kid, the greatest gift of your talent would be if you looked past Super Bowls to the Super Tuesdays and general elections of the future. In short, make political commercials that are super funny and entertaining and — talk about the impossible dream! — actually enlightening.
Instead, we the people are typically assaulted by mindless doses of nonsense that are an insult to our collective intelligence — in short, beer ads without the laughs.
It is true that I haven’t yet been bombarded by these political ads, because I live in Pennsylvania, where our state clock runs a little behind everyone else in the country by months if not years. If memory serves, our primary comes after the presidential inauguration.
But in the future, I want ads featuring dancing lizards, giant balloons, songs and merriment to give me some joy before the realization of who won sinks in. Here’s looking at you, kid.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com.)