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A perfect life, as seen on TV

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2010

Originally published Dec. 31, 2000, and reprinted today because I want to.


Christmas sure was great. The kids were overindulged, everyone ate too much and no one misbehaved.

The gifts also were thoughtful and nice, though this year I seemed to have gotten lots of gadgets with "As Seen On TV!" stamped on the box.

That includes a "Rotato," a mechanical potato peeler that looks like a Medieval torture instrument, and an Egg Wave," which really does quickly cook eggs - though if you leave it in the microwave more than a few seconds, it tends to become the Egg Volcano.

And aren't the names clever? "Rotato," for "rotating potato"; "Egg Wave," for microwaved eggs. Gotta love those ad writers.

But as pleasant as our Christmas was, I'm sure there's no way our celebration or any portion of our entire year was even remotely as good as that of a distant cousin.

How do I know?

Because Bob told us.

It's the end of the year, so we can always count on Bob - that's not his real name, but the rest of this account is true - to give us a glowing report on the state of his family.

Yep. It's one of those despised merry-Christmas-and-happy-New-Year letters.

We've come to look forward to Bob's letter because while it is a breathtaking masterpiece of self-important braggadocio, Bob seems blissfully unaware.

The letter's annual arrival signals the end of a spectacular old year, and heralds the beginning of a new year in which everything will be stupendous.

"For our family, this has been a building year... a house-building year, that is," chirps Bob's letter. And it really does chirp; every syllable has a girlish bubble to it, as if the words were breathlessly giggled by teens at a slumber party. "We expect to move into our new house in Windmill Harbor this January, and we can't wait to start enjoying sunsets over Calibogue Sound again."

They don't mean Windmill Plantation in Evans, either. They mean Windmill Harbor on Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Bob retired from his medical practice at age 40.

So what astounding events occurred in Bob's action-packed household this year? Well, he and his son are taking flying lessons! Gosh! But he still has time "for an occasional fishing trip on our boat with my dad. We don't catch any fish, but we have a great time." Super! And his champion-level wife "continues to play tennis with a vengeance" (that's a kind of racket - I think I saw it on TV).

The teen son - "the most dedicated student that you could ever meet" - is working hard to beat Mom in singles, but "he seems happiest when he is in the pilot's seat of the Cessna 172 we are learning to fly in." Jeepers!

Alas, their younger "social butterfly" daughter provided the lone "adversity" for the year when her horse, "Endora" ("an 8-year-old Selle Francais mare who joined the family in January") temporarily went lame.

Oh. The. Horror.

Though the daughter "missed the entire fall show season" while nursing her horse and wistfully "watching all her barn buddies doing so well at the shows while she couldn't compete," the episode allowed the brave gal to demonstrate her "commitment and maturity."

Plus, it probably cheered her up when the family spent three weeks in France and Great Britain, including a side trip to the summer home of the daughter's riding coach in Normandy. The only damper on the trip was "the summer crowds at the tourist sites." The nerve of that rabble.

And just like those "as seen on TV" gifts, wait! There's more! Bob and his wife also took a trip to New York to see Barbra Streisand! Hooray! And a jaunt to Atlanta for Tina Turner! Yippee!

Gosh, if the much-dreaded Y2K was this spectacular, the new millennium promises happiness unknown since the discovery of the Ginsu Knife.

Am I jealous?

Heck, no. I got a Rotato.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail Follow at


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