Brianstorms  >  Various Articles  >  The Good Guys

The Good Guys
by Brian Dear

Originally posted in the WELL's media conference, Monday 17 August 1998. after then-President Clinton gave the (in-)famous speech to the nation on television.

My wife and I don't watch television, and we didn't feel like going to my office at work to fire up the RealVideo player only to learn that 5,000 other people are using all the available RealServer ports thank you, so we did something even better, we drove to the local Good Guys and went into the TV department to watch the speech. Of course, when you walk into a Good Guys, at 6:56pm Pacific Time on a Monday evening, there aren't too many customers in the sprawling store, so all the sweaty, red-eyed sales reps, in the wrinkled salesclothes, are all gathered together keeping themselves awake, then eyeing us over, trying to figure out of these two new marks, er, customers, are worth selling to or not. Me in my shorts and sandals, doing my best Big Lebowsky impression. I guess the sales sharks figured we weren't bigtime spenders cuz they left us alone, and let us walk clear across the store to the TV section, with ten thousand televisions lining the aisles and walls and even hanging from the ceiling, and all, every one of them, showing the same stupid baseball game. So the question is, how do you explain to a sales shark that you don't watch television but there's no way in hell we're gonna miss Clinton speaking tonight and could we just take this remote control here, pull it off of its velcro fastener and change channels on this one TV out of ten thousand so that we could watch Clinton? Well, the moment one pulls a remote control off of its velcro fastener is the moment the sharks disperse and start smelling blood, and in a split second one was upon us, "May I help you?" and I provide the standard reply, the emptor's standard reply, and the verbal equivalent of hitting a shark in the head right between the eyes to stun him and make him go away in a "these aren't the droids I'm looking for" brief stupor: "Oh we're just browsing". But then I look at my watch and it's one minute before seven and there's no way I'm gonna be able to figure out in one minute how to throw the master switch for the store such that all ten thousand televisions stop showing the stupid baseball game and start showing the stupid president, so before the sales shark has swim too far away I call to him and ask, um, is there a way to look at any other channels besides this baseball game? To which he replies, in a word, no. The store only has one cable channel. In fact it's a DSS sattelite demo channel or something. So we figure heh, we came all the way out to this store to watch the President of the United States, and we're not gonna get to see him, so we figure oh well, we blew it, we might as well browse the store. So we go over to another section of the store, which has a few telvisions on display in a sort of loser's aisle (perhaps these were refurbished/returned models), [a loser's aisle being the equivalent of, say, the Macintosh section of the typical CompUSA], and lo and behold, there's Larry King, looking, well, like Larry King, suspenders and obnoxious tie and all, talking to various talking heads who all look rather clueless and uncomfortable, and the CNN LIVE logo down at the bottom, indicating "7:01pm" and Larry says "two more minutes" and a few more talking heads say their inanities and at about this moment one of the sales sharks comes over to a nearby collection of video games in an aisle behind us and starts playing some game with the volume turned up rather loud, and my wife has to reach for the TV volume control in front of us and turn up the volume so we can hear the TV, and the onscreen display informs us that the volume is now set to "half" of its full loudness, and then suddenly the screen goes black and then there's the face of someone who looks sort of like President Clinton, but his face seems shallower, tighter, perhaps full of makeup. His eyes are all Clint Eastwood slits. Is he faking holding back crying? And then he speaks, he doesn't say "My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight...", which is what I fully expected him to say, he just says "Good evening" and dives right into things, and then it occurs to me that he couldn't say "My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight" as that would make too many people over the age of 30 think of Richard Milhous Nixon and that wouldn't serve his purposes very well at this moment. And at this moment, as he begins his and drops the bomb ("Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate") making me and my wife silently gasp for a moment in a We're Witnessing History kind of realization, but we couldn't hear what he said after that because the video game behind us suddenly got louder, and I turned to look at what the commotion was, and there are several sales sharks standing around one of these videogame kiosks, and one of them is looking right at me, and then he says "Turn it up" to one of the fellow sharks, as he's looking right at me, as if to say to me, "We don't like people coming in the store just to watch TV, if you're not going to buy something we're gonna make it really unpleasant for you to stay here" and now the volume is BOOMING, in deep HOOM HOOM HOOMs that only subwoofers can produce -- the booms of a subwoofer being deeper than BOOMS, they're more like HOOMS -- and so we find ourselves having to turn up the volume on poor President Clinton even louder, in order to hear him ("I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."). And the sales sharks respond in kind, upping their own volume, so that now we're trying to listen to Clinton ("And now the investigation itself is under investigation") amidst the HOOM HOOM HOOM and chucka chucka boom boom tissle tissle bam boom of the video game. So we crank the volume up to near full (and this is a Yamaha home entertainment system with separate speaker towers I'm talking about), and we're getting a bit annoyed that we have to turn the damn volume up so high to hear the President ("Now it is time -- in fact, it is past time -- to move on") over the HOOMs of Nintendo. Then, suddenly, the speech was over, and Larry King appeared again, him too, I believe, a bit surprised at the brevity of the speech, a genuine "Ok, I *did* it, okay? Can I go now?" speech if there ever was one, and Larry turns to Jim Carville, who is beginning to resemble, to our non-television eyes, the Alien in the movie Alien, and asks for his comments. The HOOMs are so loud that we decide not to stick around to hear the pundits tell us what we should think, so we left.


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