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I don't know how old you are or claim to be, but I have no doubt that if you're watching the evening news on television you're older than you think, Chummy. If you don't believe me, just count the number of ads in that news program you're watching aimed at 'seniors' - impolitely known as 'geezers.'
Why are there so many ads aimed us aging boomers who are now in the 'upper age groups,' demographically speaking?
Simple. You give today's health entrepreneurs enough potential business and they'll come up with a clever 'condition' that needs one of their particular medications. Many of our more resourceful experts have come up with ailments that most of us boomers don't know we have, but are willing to pay big bucks to treat and get rid of, anyway.
If you're a boomer who's too busy thinking about your money and the economy, with no time to think about health problems that's O.K. Because of potential profits there are people out there who - as you read this - are thinking about your money, too. They're also thinking up 'conditions' that can separate you from that money. These clever people will see to it that the problems they come up with will blossom into full-fledged 'health issues' and maybe - if they're lucky - a 'syndrome.' All they need then is to have some news person talk earnestly about it on 'Dateline' and - mister - you got yourself an authentic new 'health crisis.'
Once the experts find what may be a cure for the newly minted condition they get themselves an 800-number and a half-hour infomercial and they start selling the miracle cure late at night on cable television stations all over the country. Eventually there's a national organization and they hire a big-time lobbyist in Washington who gets them government money for more studies and everyone involved makes loads of money. Is this a country the land of opportunity, or what?
A typical television infomercial ad might go like this: Now that you're middle-aged, have you noticed how ugly your toe nails are getting? Unsightly toe nails in those over 40 can be the sign of a more serious problem - TOE NAIL FUNGUS! Recent studies by the National Association to Exploit Toe Nails (NATETN) indicate that left untreated toe nail fungus can lead to Odiferous Extremeitus - more commonly known throughout the civilized world as SMELLY FEET.
In the next twenty minutes we learn a lot more about toe nail fungus than we ever thought we had a Constitutional right to know. We are then told to ask our doctor about ZENAH-TOE the wonder drug that cures the dreaded disease and whitens teeth while it's at it, but may leave your liver in pretty rough shape.
A recently discovered 'condition' that is tailor-made for us Mainers is something called 'Seasonal Affective Disorder.' So far I haven't seen the MSNBC Special or the infomercial on cable and I don't know if it has a Washington lobbyist - but I'm sure all that's just a matter of time.
"What the heck is Seasonal Affective Disorder, John?" I hear the boomers among you ask.
Well it turns out that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not what you or I might think it is. We here in Maine sure have a lot of different 'seasons' - from tourist season to hunting season to mud season - and there's no doubt that these seasons can "affect" people one way or another and some seasons have been known to create a little more "disorder" than is acceptable.
SAD - say the experts - describes what happens to people who go through a mood change and become depressed because of the diminished amount of sunlight in northern climates during winter months. Fact is we here in Maine are usually too busy shoveling and plowing snow, bringing in fire wood, salting slippery sidewalks, banking foundations, buying snow tires, getting firewood, filling the winter bird feeders and reading the new seed catalogs that most of us don't have time to think that there may be something else out of order during our long winter season, that's due to start any day now.
But, if people can become depressed for lack of sunlight, it shouldn't it follow that people in bright and sunny places like Florida have no problems at all with this SAD and are always cheerful and content. But from what I read in the newspapers Florida is affected by a whole host of other disorders that more than make up for their not having SAD.
If the name weren't already taken Seasonal Affected Disorder could describe what affects many Mainers around Memorial Day - just before the beginning of tourist season. When the end of May rolls around and the state is about to be over-run with what we used to call "summer complaints," people here in Maine are definitely "affected" by the "seasonal" change and some of those folks from away have been known to get pretty "disorderly" at times.
Fortunately here in Maine those unpleasant seasons that affect us are balanced with seasons like maple syrup season, native strawberry season, sweet corn season and blueberry season. All-in-all I still think we come out ahead of those poor people living down there in sunny Florida - SAD and all.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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