Column - Mays' loud ghost returns
When someone dies, they're supposed to stay dead. Not Billy Mays. He's still alive - loudly, obnoxiously alive - still bullying his way onto my TV set. The remote-control "mute" button was born for Billy Mays. For years, every time Mays interrupt...
When someone dies, they're supposed to stay dead.
Not Billy Mays. He's still alive - loudly, obnoxiously alive - still bullying his way onto my TV set.
The remote-control "mute" button was born for Billy Mays. For years, every time Mays interrupted a program, I'd lunge for that remote and slam down the mute button. His loud, high-pitched voice was worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. He shouted at us as if we were all deaf, the way you sometimes have to shout to ancient grannies in a nursing home.
One of my scariest visions of hell is a place where I'd be strapped in a chair and Mays would be there, right in front of me, demonstrating useless gadgets and yelling at me. Forever and ever. Imagine the horror!
So many, many times while watching TV I'd shout back at Mays. "Drop dead, you loud-mouthed huckster!"
Whoops! A few weeks ago, he did. He did drop dead. For a few seconds, I felt vaguely guilty for wishing him dead so many times. But I quickly recovered, smiling gleefully when I realized he wouldn't be barging onto my TV screen anymore.
Then one day, while making a cup of instant coffee in the kitchen, I heard a loud, shrill, familiar voice.
Startled, I spilled some of the coffee on the stove.
"Oh, my God, he's back!" I exclaimed to a neighbor guest sitting at the kitchen table.
"Who?" he asked.
"Billy Mays! I thought he was dead!"
"Oh, yeah, that commercial guy."
"Yes! Him! Again! I hope to God Mays doesn't have an identical twin brother."
"No," he scoffed. "That's obviously a re-run because that guy just died."
Of course! I'd forgotten. They call it the "miracle" of TV where loud pests like Mays can live forever via re-runs. And we the wretched viewers must endure these dead loudmouths in re-runs as long as we live, which isn't very long for some of us.
In the TV Age, that's what immortality means. Re-runs. Bad re-runs.
I'm cautiously optimistic. I would think Mays can't go on advertising ghostly gadgets much longer. But then, I pause as terror fills me. What if some sadistic TV gadget-wizards manufacture a life-like "Billy" robot, dyed black beard and all, with a voice even LOUDER than Mays?
God help us!