Friday, 2 May 2014

Human Again

Real endorsement on a calorie-counting website: "‘I can honestly say that finding this website has been the best thing to happen to me in my life’ – Maggie Bailey" (name has been changed).
‘Tell us how much this website means to you, Maggie. In your own words,’ says an oleaginous daytime TV presenter with a loud tie. He sets his face to ‘earnest’.
Maggie dabs at the corner of her eye with a handkerchief. ‘Well, Bob,’ she says, brokenly, ‘my life just felt empty, you know?’
LIFE FELT EMPTY, says a caption under her face.
‘Mmm.’ Bob moves his head in an ellipse, somewhere between a nod and a shake. Leans toward her slightly.
‘I mean, I felt like I was – nothing,’ she continues. ‘Nothing seemed to matter.’
‘You must have felt something, Maggie. How about your wedding day?’
‘Nothing, Bob.’
‘Your children? How about your dog?’
‘No, Bob. I felt nothing.’ She sobs. ‘I was a shell, an emotionless, unfeeling shell.’
MAGGIE: I WAS A SHELL, says a caption, flashed on the screen.
‘Is it because' – here he turns to the camera - 'you were fat?’
Back to Maggie. Silence. She sniffs, dabs again with the handkerchief.
‘It was, Bob. It was.’
Close up to concerned figure in the audience, shaking head in silent sympathy.
A still image of a slightly more rotund Maggie is shown on the screen. FAT, it says.
‘We feel for you, Maggie. We really do. But tell us about what changed.’
A smile wavers under the tears. She puts her handkerchief down in her lap.
‘I found, Bob.’ The smile becomes radiant.
‘You did?’ Knowing glance to the camera. ‘Tell us about it, Maggie. Take your time.’
‘Well, I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband had just gone outside to shoot some chickens. My children – well, those who were left anyway – were wrestling in the yard. I turned on my computer, checking my eBay auction. I was bidding on a deep fat fryer and an AK-47 at the time. And then, as if by magic, there it was.’
Concerned audience member is now smiling rapturously.
Bob grins. ‘There it was.’ Shakes head at camera, avuncular now. ‘How about that.’
‘Oh Bob, it was magical.’ Maggie clasps her hands in reverence. ‘I had this sense that everything was going to be different. I started counting calories with their online guide, trying some of their handy recipes, and after just a few months, oh Bob…’      
‘What happened after a few weeks, Maggie?’
‘I wasn’t fat any more.’
Spontaneous applause. Somebody cheers. She looks around in gratitude.
‘That website was the best thing that ever happened to me, in my whole life,’ she says. 
‘Of course it was.’ Bob nods, magnanimous, lets the audience have its moment. ‘Of course it was, Maggie. Tell us about it.’
‘Oh it changed everything, Bob. I began to love and esteem others. My IQ shot up by fifty points. I started to behave in accordance with moral codes. And all because of’
HUMAN AGAIN, says the caption.
‘Well, that’s an incredible story, Maggie. Thank you for sharing.’
He turns back to the camera, resets face to ‘informative but supportive’. A scrolling marquee appears on the bottom of the screen, advertising the website.
‘To all you folks at home who are struggling, just like Maggie was, log on to today. You don’t have to settle, folks. Live the life you were meant to live.’
His wife joins him on stage. Stands mutely, smiling vacantly. They clasp hands as the credits roll.

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