Not Sure How To Tell You This, But...
by Mad Dog
news by email, voice mail, or posting it in the Internet chat room where
you met the person youíre about to break up with isnít good form.
||There are ways to break
bad news and there are ways not to. Doing it in person is good, though
it takes nerve, something most of us only have when we get in the
express line at the grocery store with 23 items in our basket,
completely prepared to defend our spot by arguing that milk, yogurt, and
Cheet-os are all dairy so they only count as one. Over the telephone is
probably second best because, while itís not as personal, at least the
other person can hear a voice. Not to mention that if youíre the one
doing the calling you can make static noises to pretend the line is
going bad and hang up quickly to avoid extended unpleasantness. Of
course if youíre using a cell phone you wonít have to fake it. After
all, having a cell phone conversation without at least one ďAre you
still there?Ē is about as farfetched as the Weekly World News hiring
a fact checker.
Breaking important news by email,
voice mail, or posting it in the Internet chat room where you met the
person youíre about to break up with isnít good form, even though
this is the 21st century. Remember, it takes etiquette a good while to
catch up to the times, which is why thereís no official ruling about
whether itís more proper to hold your Big Mac with the paper wrapped
around it than it is to hold it in your hand and then lick the secret
sauce from your fingers afterwards.
took out a full-page ad in Variety to announce that he and his
wife are splitting up. Not only is this a very public and efficient way
to spread the news, itís a rather expensive one.
|| Itís also
not a great idea to announce something for the first time during a
deposition, a televised Senate subcommittee hearing, or right before the
police read you your rights. Especially if you donít have a lawyer
present. Very public means of making important announcements are also a
no-no. Skywriting, billboards, and the Jumbotron at the baseball game
may be great ways to proposeóproviding the target of your affection
says yes so you can show your face in public againóbut they arenít
good for broadcasting the subsequent divorce. Unless, that is, youíre
the Godfather of Soul.
James Brown didnít hire a skywriter. What he did do was take out a
full-page ad in the trade newspaper Variety to announce that he
and his wife are splitting up. Not only is this a very public and
efficient way to spread the news, itís a rather expensive one. For the
$9,250 a full page ad in Variety costs he could have had
announcements printed on hand-made paper, put a good print of the
photograph that was in the ad showing the couple and their 2-year-old
son at Disneyland posing with Goofy on the front like an anti-Christmas
card, and had an expert forge his signature on the inside with the
inscription, ďI feel good! James.Ē
Now before you pick up the phone and
call the Weekly Advertizer to find out if you need to take out a
second mortgage to buy an ad, donít forget your motherís reply when
you asked why you couldnít go bowling with your friends instead of
attending church with the family: ďIf Bobby jumped off the roof, would
you do it too?Ē What she was trying to get across in her non
sequiturish way was that you should be your own person and do what you
want to do, not follow the crowd. This is especially good advice when it
comes to choosing James Brown as your role model, since itís generally
not a great idea to follow the example of someone whoís been convicted
of assault, possession of drugs, and carrying weapons. Unless your last
name is Soprano.
In true celebrity fashion, he decided to make his formal
political announcement on The Tonight Show. Apparently the Jerry
Springer Show was booked.
Apparently the usual rules of announcement donít hold for
celebrities. After all, as the saying goes, theyíre just like you and
me except richer, more powerful, better able to afford Botox, and more
easily able to avoid jail time when caught shoplifting, driving drunk,
or being so stoned on drugs they mistake Jay Leno for Ted Koppel. Oh
yeah, and able to make announcements in ways we can only dream about.
Take Arnold Schwarzenegger for
example. He kept 14 people, all newspaper reporters, in suspense while
he tried to decide whether to throw his pumped up hat into the ring and
run for governor of California in the upcoming recall election. In true
celebrity fashion, he decided to make his formal announcement on The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Apparently the Jerry Springer Show was
booked and they refused to change the nightís theme, ďIíve Been
Screwed! Democratic Governors and the State Senators Who Finance Their
RecallĒ since it had all the earmarks of a big ratings draw. Or at
least might attract more viewers than the number of California voters
who care about the real thing.
Schwarzeneggerís appearance gave
the program its second-largest ratings of the year, which doesnít bode
well for the future of announcements. If word gets out about how
successful this was, people will start running radio commercials to tell
friends their cat ran away while they were on vacation. Newspapers will
run Special Announcement
pull-out sections. And people will start timing their news for sweeps
week to make best use of the ratings. All I can say is, god help Maria
if Arnold ever decides he wants a divorce.
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them, but make sure you announce it first.