Wednesday, April 27, 2005

On A Plane/Heated Poker Debate/Heated Chocolate Debate

I am on a plane from scenic Los Angeles to New York as I type this. As part of the in-flight entertainment, they just had a screening of the popular movie “Elektra” starring Hollywood’s Jennifer Garner, which as best I could tell was about some lady with a penchant for tight clothes and beating the crap out of people who have totally got it coming. Then again, I didn’t buy the $2 headphones the stewardess came around with and I fell asleep during the first five minutes of the movie, so I am pretty much guessing on that one.

When I woke up from my in-flight nap, the popular movie “Elektra” was over and the ABC Family Channel was playing on the video monitors that hang in the aisles just a few feet above the passengers’ heads. I still didn’t have any headphones, but from the looks of things they appeared to be doing a story on the poker craze that is currently sweeping the nation. There was footage of all sorts of people laughing, high-fiving, and generally having a great time while playing the exciting game of poker. They even showed a photograph of what appeared to be an entire family playing poker. Even their pet St. Bernard was getting in on the action by sitting there with his arms up on the table and a look on his face that seemed to say “Deal me in, humans. St. Bernard’s love poker too.” As soon as I saw this, I couldn’t help but think of those hilarious paintings where the dogs are all sitting around playing poker, as if that sort of thing were really possible.

Anyway, after the footage of all sorts of people loving the excellent game of poker, there appeared to be a debate over whether or not it was healthy for kids to be playing poker, America’s exciting new national pasttime. I could see from the text on the screen that they were interviewing a 16 year-old kid named Patrick whose facial expression and body language seemed to suggest that he was crazy about poker and there was nothing you could do to stop him from playing it, so you can totally forget about trying because it won’t work. Seated next to the 16 year-old poker fanatic was his mother, a roundfaced woman with long red-hair who was twitching around in a manner that suggested that she and her son had had a long discussion about the dangers of playing poker at an early age and together had decided that as long as he didn’t start smoking crack or having sex for money, it was perfectly okay with her if he spent all of his free time playing the awesome game of poker. Next to the round-faced, red-haired, and perfectly reasonable mother of the teen poker player sat Ryan, a twentysomething gentlemen with carefully-gelled hair and and a light blue button down shirt that looked like it had been purchased at the Gap just moments before the show. The text underneath Ryan and his new shirt said that he had recently quit playing poker. From the look on Ryan’s face, I could tell that quitting poker was the best thing that ever happened to him and now that he wasn’t waking up on the bathroom floor at Caesar’s Palace with his pants around his ankles anymore he was ready to start exploring the endless possibilities of the poker-free lifestyle. The 16 year-old poker player, his mother, and Ryan the recovering poker addict all took turns talking about poker and its impact on their lives for several minutes until finally a fiftyish newcaster guy with salt and pepper locks appeared on the screen with a facial expression that seemed to suggest that ultimately it was up to you whether or not you wanted to let your kid play poker, but if your kid ended up smoking crack or having sex for money as a result of his or her love affair with the incredible game of wits that is poker, it was totally not his fault.

After the heated poker debate, the ABC Family Channel launched into another debate, only this time it was about whether or not chocolate was actually healthy for you. This is something I figured out after the words “healthy” and “chocolate” appeared on the screen with a question mark right after them. For this special update on the popular American snack that is chocolate, a thirtyish blonde-haired woman in a sporty blue ensemble waved around a piece of delicious chocolate for a few seconds until she finally gave in and took a bite even though the idea of newcasters eating pieces of delicious chocolate on camera is certainly not something they teach you in broadcasting school that’s for darn sure. Across from the chocolate-eating newscaster sat a doctor whose specialty seemed to be chocolate and other irresistible candies. The newcaster lady stared at the chocolate specialist with a look that seemed to say “I love chocolate and the idea that it could actually be good for me is too good to be true so this better not be some sort of practical joke or something because if it is I will totally fuck you up right here on the air so don’t even try it.” The chocolate doctor smiled back at her with a look that seemed to say “Hey, in small enough doses, even cigarettes can be good for you, so if you want to go ahead and eat a few pieces of chocolate every now and again, I say go for it. Just don’t crazy or anything because if you put on even an extra two or three pounds the ABC Family Channel will fire your ass so fast it will make your head spin and it will totally not be my problem so don’t come running to me. Now what do you say we get on with this interview?”

After the heated chocolate debate, the fiftyish newscaster with salt and pepper locks from earlier in the show appeared on the screen once again only this time he had a look on his face that seemed to say “Chocolate is good for you? Now there’s an idea I could really get used to! In fact, my desire to eat chocolate right now is second only to my desire to pay for sex just a few blocks from here the second they turn these cameras off.” Now there’s a guy who has got it all figured out!