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Fakes and pains


After reading about a Hindu temple in India where they perform exorcisms every Tuesday and Friday, my friend Gwen and I are considering opening our own exorcism kiosk in the mall. We must have lots of souls here that are as foul as week-old sushi. All we’d need is some holy water, tongs and a disclaimer (“for novelty purposes only”).

Disclaimers are important because there’s always some retard who thinks your carnival game is for real. You have to count on their stupidity to get their money, and then defend yourself against it.

My favorite example is Cleo, the fakin’ Jamaican tarot reader who is on TV more than Regis. Millions of women do more superior acting in bed every night than Cleo does on her commercial, and even Keanu does better accents. But without a disclaimer, some dunderhead caller will discover that Cleo doesn’t have a degree in Sassy Folk Wisdom from Harvard and sue.

So it’s good that there are disclaimers to protect businesses from their dumb customers. Anyone who falls for hooey deserves to get rooked.

Losing it

But is that fair? Is it OK that a person blinded by hopefulness and desperate enough to reach out should get taken like a date on roofies? Well, yeah. We’re capitalists and can sell nearly anything the other guy wants to buy (except the stuff they really want to buy, like sex and drugs; this is a free country, but it’s not Holland). If someone wants to buy hope, you’re free to attach a price.

And no one needs hope like dieters do.

A recent New York Times article detailed a few weight-loss scams, and if the grand mal stupidity of some of those scams is any indication, the fat is located in our heads.

For example, some people apparently believe that wearing the Fat-Be-Gone ring is the same as “jogging six miles a day,” and that it melts away pounds from different body parts depending on the finger you wear it on. A quick Internet search on my own immediately came across a promised loss of 30 pounds in 31 days; effortless weight loss during sleep; and even a bra that “trains bust tissue” into a position that prevents you from getting the “thick, matronly waist” apparently caused by conventional bras and not by cannolis and beer, as previously suspected.

Americans are buying into this crap in greater numbers than ever, confirming suspicions (begun with the number of George W. Bush supporters) that this country is depressingly stupid.

According to the Times, half of all Americans are overweight and 22 percent qualify as obese, yet the purchase of low-fat foods has dropped by 40 percent since 1996, whereas the sale of diet pills over the same time period has quadrupled.

Diet-pill companies can ignore federal advertising guidelines because their numbers make it hard to regulate them, and so they can take advantage of a public that wants to hear the word “effortless” in front of whatever pursuit they seek. It’s believed that since fen-phen — the miracle weight-loss drug with potentially lethal side effects — was pulled from the market, everyone’s been looking for a replacement. The easy road failed and the hard road seems too hard to go back to.

Effortless weight loss makes as much sense as a financial plan that requires you to win the lottery. As someone who has gained and lost about 4,000 pounds since age 10, I can pretty much tell you that, short of removing a limb, the only way to transform drop weight is through diet and difficult exercise. This wasn’t my idea. If I had my way you’d all have magic wands, psychokinesis, and could transform yourselves into Ricky Martin or Salma Hayek any time you wanted.

Well warned

Who is likely to take a pill that’s labeled “for novelty purposes only”? And if they do, do they have any right to expect tangible results? A disclaimer basically tells you not to believe that something is going to work. Maybe fewer people would swallow the claims, and the pills, if they were labeled like horoscope hotlines.

Actually there are a lot of things that should be labeled “for novelty purposes only.” I’ve had cars that should have carried such a warning. Religion could fall under that banner, since you can’t actually prove it. And in the first six months, if romances were labeled “strictly for entertainment purposes,” it could save a lot of hurt feelings and premature investing.

Battling holiday temptation is a bitch, and if you’re plagued with the demons of appetite, maybe you need to be exorcised. We don’t have the permits, but we do have the tongs. Come on. It will be a novelty.

Liz Langley writes for the Orlando Weekly. E-mail [email protected]


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