Men – the advertiser’s lost continent

The other day in the supermarket I came across men’s bread. Men’s bread? Yes, you heard right. This men’s bread has selenium and zinc infused through its fluffy white core to meet men’s special dietary needs. What, so now men have needs? I mean, really.

Advertisers have only recently discovered Planet Bloke. While they were busy making women feel inadequate, messed-up and deeply dysfunctional by inventing new products to meet women’s special needs – we’re talking breads, sunscreens, milk, breakfast cereals and chocolate – men have been happily ploughing on, oblivious that they are in desperate need of their own special products. Now that advertisers have screwed up women – hello boys! It must be the advertising equivalent of discovering the new world – half the world’s population, ripe for exploitation.

Enter men’s cosmetics, bread, breakfast cereal and milk. After that who knows? Will it be toilet paper, special male-order vegemite, bloke blocks of cheese and male mixed fruits and nuts?

Why should I care? If advertisers are now messing with men’s heads, making them insecure, self-doubting and confused, that’s got to balance  the books a little, don’t you think? Men who think before they buy and take an interest in their own health, what’s not to like? 

So why does it leave a yukky taste?

Advertisements

Wet & Wild: Suburban Swimming Lane Rage

Going to the swimming pool and clocking up a few laps is taking on a whole new complexion lately. The average suburban swimming pool is divided into different lanes: fast, medium, slow and splash lane – for fun swimming, but by the looks of it most of the fun went down the drain some time ago. The fast lane are swimming as though every lap contributes to their mortgage, they make no eye contact and I’ve never seen them actually get out of the pool.

The medium lane – this is where the rot starts. Because there’s a lot of medium slow people in this lane, but with fast egos. Some mediums should be in slow. But the problem is there no Harry Potter like hat sorter to tell us which lane to go in, it’s not a meritocracy, it’s a self-regulated system. And self-regulation, mmm, we only have to look at the global financial crisis to know how well that works.

This really buggers up the system, because true medium swimmers don’t want to share the lane with some upstart slowbie in the wrong lane so they hop in the slow lane. This is my home lane and I really hate sharing it with people who can actually swim. So … I get to go in the splash lane dodging divebombing kids and geriatric weebags.

Then there’s the props. Some people go swimming in outfits that make them look like a seal with a chin, all head to toe shining grey lycra. others have slippers to make them more menacing to other sea life. I have a garden variety kickboard, but some people bring a noodle and perform activities walking with it that quite possibly could be illegal in several American states. But the people I really hate are rampant splashers. Even if they are not in your lane, you can hear them coming, sounding like an outboard motor and creating tidal waves as they freestyle past. They bring out the worst in me and I kick extra hard when I hear them coming in an uber passive aggressive punishment measure.

The public suburban pool makes me realise why so many people have their own pools and are happy to put up with cleaning filling and throwing chemicals around just to avoid the lap swimming nightmare. No where else is ego, passive aggressive pique, budgie smugglers and eccentric sports equipment on display. And maybe that’s why I keep going back – you can’t find this kind of pageantry elsewhere.

When they call you darl – watch out (the lowdown on hospitals)

Having spent a bit of time around hospitals lately, here’s what I learned about our state-of-the-art health system.

The only way to handle hospitals is to be well when you enter – you need to be essentially well when you come in. Ok, you can have something nice and straightforward, like a broken finger, but you need to a healthy specimen to survive hospital – preferably well enough to go home and think about acupuncture or throat singing as a viable health alternative. The trouble with being sick is that hospitals can take control. They’ll dress you in their clothes, shuttle you off for all sorts of scans, prods, biopsies and radiation, which will take around 3 weeks to complete then another 3 weeks to get the results. By which time you will have lost your mind.

Grumpy old nurses

I hate to sound fattists (ok, not really – I’m officially outed as a fattist) but generally speaking the fatter, older and nurse is the more mean they are. Don’t get me wrong – most nurses are as nice as can be, but there are exceptions.

There’s something about nursing that attracts a small psychomental proportion of people who enjoy saying: “No, you can’t watch television today, doctor said no”. Or “You can’t go outside and enjoy sunshine and fresh air for a few minutes, because doctor said no”. Real passive aggressive stuff. Why don’t they say ” I have nothing but this bloody hospital in my life, and because I have no cat I’m going to take it out on you”.

Nice, hot doctors are only on TV

Yes, it’s true. The doctors I came across had the bedside manner of a turnip and didn’t look a bit like those shiny happy doctors on Grey’s Anatomy. Plus they don’t seem to do any actual work. All they do is read reports and zap in for 2.5 nano seconds and say “We’re waiting for results”. After 3 weeks of this, a different doctor will pop in and say “We’re all working very hard on this case, we’re all discussing it”. “You’re a complicated case” – that’s another classic. It means we haven’t the foggiest and you’d be better off getting the South American Tonka Tribe in and sacrifice a chicken. 

Make friends with the kitchen

If possible get their direct line. then you can control what you eat. I know doctor said liquid diet, but ice cream counts right?

When they call you darl – watch out

When doctors, nurses, anaesthetist start calling you darl, sweetie or hon – watch out. They have something very horrible up their sleeve, a 2am enema, a cardboard and jelly diet or a drip of radioactive nuclear saline. If they call you darl, grab the zimmer frame and run …

Topless jogging terroists

My suburb has been invaded by exercise demons. They are walking, cycling, jogging  and most have a look on their face that looks a bit like their internal organs are doing a fire dance with extra explosives. Which probably isn’t too far from the truth when you start to think about it.

Good for them for getting out there and exercising. But what is it with these middle aged men exercising with their shirt off? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against men exercising with their shirt off, as long as it’s pretty obvious once they take their shirt off that they have been working out for quite some time. In fact bring it on!  But the trouble is, not too many (at last count nil) of these guys live in my suburb.

If I’m driving to the shops in a post holiday haze, I do not want to be subjected to a beetroot hued block of chest, wobbly beer gut and gelatinous man boobs that are wobbling like they are a cranberry jelly that hasn’t quite set.

And the thing is you can’t avoid these topless terrorists. They do not skulk silently at the back of the walking pack, or jog unnoticed under the trees. No! They actually want to be noticed! They think they look pretty damn good. They are out there jogging on the road’s edge – the pedestrian path is not visible enough for them. They are on their bike opposite me at the traffic lights, sweating like they’ve just emerged from a 3 day Thai sauna.

So, topless old fogies, here’s the drill: shirt on, get back to exercising in your gardening gear. After all, what’s wrong with the shorts and t-shirt from Lowes anyway? It’s functional, practical and suitable for all-day wear. You can move effortlessly from the bike to Bunnings to the couch with a cold beer and hot chips in this outfit. Leave the shirts off to Brad Pitt lookalikes. And tell them to come to my suburb.

Yoga obsessives

Yoga Obsessives There once was a time when, if people wanted to do a physical activity without having to do any actual exercise, they took up yoga. However in the last few years yoga has undergone a massive revolution. No longer the domain of ex-hippies or people who can’t jog, it has now reached the height of cool. There’s hardly a celebrity around who hasn’t employed a guru to advise them on yogic awareness. And there’s hardly a trendite in Sydney who isn’t seen wandering around the Eastern suburbs on Saturdays with a blue mat tucked under one arm and wearing an outfit that screams look-at-me-I’m-on-the-way-to-yoga-class. Out in the suburbs, you will find both yoga and enlightenment sold at K-mart, who are doing a great line in purple yoga kits and snappy Zen outfits. The yoga classes themselves have moved out of the church hall and into cafes, gyms and the beach. It’s on the telly, if you can be bothered getting up at 6am just to give your groin a workout, and it’s even gone corporate. A lot of city offices offer lunchtime yoga, but it’s really not a good idea unless you can stomach the humiliation of seeing your boss do the lotus pose better than you. But the latest craze is Bikrum yoga. Bikrum yoga is a type of yoga that involves pre-heating the room to a sauna type temperature and then embarking on a very fast set of yoga poses, leaving everyone feeling afterwards like they’ve completed twelve cycles in the dryer. Because Bikrum yoga involves pain and suffering at overly high temperatures followed by feeling like death, quite a few people regard it as a religious experience. As they leave the class dripping puddles of sweat it is as though they’ve been absolved from guilt for another week. But not only has the previously gentle yoga class changed, but so have the participants. The power yoga obsessives have taken over. These people are not hard to spot. They come dressed in a matching minimalist retro tracksuit and t-shirt ensemble, they bring huge quantities of bottled water with them to class to replace the sweat and they launch themselves into the poses like it’s some kind of televised game of yoga survivor. And at the end of class they can be seen talking in hushed, reverent tones to the teacher about breakthrough poses and home practice. But these power yoga obsessives are making life hell for the original yoga participants. We originals have quietly supported yoga over the years. Because of these power yoga obsessives we are now feeling totally inadequate and finding it hard to keep up, even with bottled water and overpriced trakky daks (and you can forget the home practice). They are driving us out of our gentle, giggly yoga class, but the really annoying thing is that these people won’t last. Not content with having ruined the whole point of yoga – which is to do zero exercise but feel good anyway – as soon as the next fad hits they’ll be off sooner than you can say breathe out. These people must be stopped. Whatever it takes – a new fad or something to turn them away from yoga – must be found. Maybe calling poses by their English translation would help – the scary sounding corpse pose doesn’t sound as good as savasana and the plain and simple forward bend sounds much more exciting when it’s a seventeen syllable Sanskrit expression. Maybe jazzercise is due for a rerun, with all those cute pink legwarmers and sweat bands the yoga obsessives would really go for that, or maybe it’s time for spinning to whirl back. Or perhaps if Gwyneth and Madonna stopped going on and on about yoga being their journey to spiritual and emotional wealth then people will get the hint. Maybe one day yoga will be alternative, weird and most importantly easy again, and it will be filled with people who don’t want to do any actual exercise, but just want to stand around in a circle giggling at their own incompetence, followed by a spot of relaxation. Maybe the yoga junkies will find some other ancient practice to destroy. But in the meantime the only hope of keeping up with the rest of the class is to add some vodka to the water bottle – it may not be exactly what the ancient mountaintop swami’s had in mind, but these days it’s the only way to float through a Sydney yoga class.