Comedy Think Tank

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

THE FINE PRINT
By Chad and Shelly Morris

There are words printed on almost everything. Do you ever start reading pointless things just because they are in front of you, like the back of a cereal box, a department store ad, or . . . um . . . well . . . this? Of course you do. Some of them can be quite amusing. It makes me laugh that shampoo bottles have directions, and that bags of carrots list its ingredients - “carrots.” And Kleenex boxes have the message, “If you have any questions or comments, please call 1-888-546-4652 weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.” This means that there has to be some poor soul sitting by a telephone for nine hours a day waiting for anyone to voice his or her fascinating tissue concerns.

The other day I noticed that on a lot of topical medications there are the words “Not for Ophthalmic Use.” This was a little funny to me. It would have to be a rare breed of idiot that thinks “Hey my dermatologist says this will help with enflamed, irritated skin, I think I’ll soak my contact lenses in it.” And if there is such an idiot (which the fact that the warning exists probably testifies that there is) are the words “Not for Ophthalmic Use” really going to do the trick? Shouldn’t we drop the fancy terminology and just write, “Don’t put in eyes!” or “Keep away from eyes” or “If you’re dumb enough to put this in your eyes, please tell the whole thing to the Kleenex guy at 1-888-546-4652 weekdays 8 am to 5 pm. He could probably use a good story.”

Of course there are even less logical things lingering in the realm of fine print. The best that I have found came with a Disney movie. It was a postcard that asked me a few questions in exchange for a chance to win a Disneyrific sweepstakes. At the bottom of the card in fine print read this exact quote, “In order to receive a prize, a Canadian prize claimant will be contacted by the judging organization and must correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question without mechanical or other assistance within a time limit.” (This is completely true!!! That’s what makes it so funny.)

It could be just my crazy interpretation, but this doesn’t exactly sound like Canadians are going to get a fair shake. Just imagine.

The phone rings. An unsuspecting person in Calgary answers, “Congratulations, you just won the Disneyrific sweepstakes. Unbelievable magical prizes will be yours if you can answer a question. You can use no calculator, but it will only involve some simple counting. How many seconds has it been since Italy became a country? . . . Oh I’m sorry, you’re disqualified.” Or maybe “Think of a number. Now times it by 7. Now multiply by 3,657. Now divide it by your birthday. And guess how old I am. Now substract my age from your total. What is your answer? . . . I’m sorry you’re disqualified.” Or “You have 10 seconds to answer the following question. A train leaves Toronto at 4 am traveling toward Disney World at 75 mph. One of those cool little cars on train tracks with two people doing that teeter tooter motion leaves Burley Idaho going to the same destination at the same time. The wind is blowing 2,000 mph in a Southeasterly direction in Kentucky. Magical gnomes are conducting the train and feeding the fire with explosive gold dust. However, the teeter tooter car is manned by Kronk and Mr. Incredible and also includes a secret turbo combustion engine that will ignite if they exceed 27 miles per hour when its hailing in Romania. Which will arrive first. Oh! I’m sorry you’re time is up. You’re disqualified. If you have any questions or concerns please call the Kleenex guy at 1-888-546- . . . (oh you saw that one coming didn’t you?)”

And so we reach the end of my ramblings about fine print. “That was pointless” you might say to yourself. Honestly, such a statement would probably be true, unless you are a math teacher in Canada. Then the next time one of your young precocious students asks “when am I ever going to need this stuff?” you confidently reply, “If you’re a Canadian and happen to win a Disney sweepstakes, it just might come in handy.”