I still remember with no special fondness the very moment I lost my innocence. I cannot actually possibly forget the singular incident that dashed my faith in my fellow human beings on the cruel rocks of betrayal. My psyche still bears of scars of that dark day when I became painfully conscious of the depth of depravity of my fellow man.
Some say it is only an urban myth, but it happened just this way…
It was the early 70’s and I was a young teen, intently watching I Dream of Jeannie on my 9-inch black and white portable television, occasionally adjusting the single antenna to minimize the ghosting and rolling of the screen, when I heard it. Like a Siren’s Call all, of my favorite pop songs, one after the other, were coming out of my television rather than from my little 9v transistor radio.
Order now, do it quick while supplies last, the announcer was urging me. Get all of your favorite hits in one fantastic album set by The Original Artists! For only $9.99! You’d pay over $50 to get all these incredible hit singles on 45’s! And they are guaranteed authentic hits by The Original Artists!
I frantically adjusted the antenna to better scrutinize the unbelievable offer on the screen. All hits are certified by The Original Artists, it affirmed proudly. It scrolled all the titles along with their artists – Kind of a Drag by The Buckinghams. Check! Incredible as it seemed to get all these amazing hits in one LP set, there it was in black and white. And did we mention that they are all by The Original Artists!?! The announcer even warned me be be careful, not to be fooled by cheap substitutes and demand only The Original Artists.
Needless to say, I gathered up much of my precious savings and rushed off to the local drug store to buy a money order for $9.99 plus Shipping and Handling, found a stamp, and sent it off. Several weeks later, there it was. My new collection of songs by The Original Artists. I tore it open like it was Christmas morning and dragged my little portable record player out from the closet, flipped open the lid, started the platter spinning, carefully put the record on, set the needle, and sat back to immerse myself in rapturous music.
Except the first song didn’t sound like I remembered it. Then the second sounded an awful lot like the first. Another sing-songy, washed-out, indistinguishably generic regurgitation of the first song. And on they went. Every song a muzak version of the original. Even on my crappy little portable record player it was obvious something was wrong.
Realization came slowly, it tap-tap-tapped at my brain patiently waiting to be let in. Eventually I entertained a small suspicion. Is this really the original artists? But the cover here says clearly that all songs are by The Original Artists…. oh wait…
Yes, shocked and horrified reader, that was the moment that changed me forever. Never again would I accept anything at face value. For evermore thereafter if it sounded too good to be true I assumed it probably was not true.
That formative event forever doomed me to take a second, third, and even a fourth look at laws and legislative actions that sound too good to be true. The Employee Free Choice Act? Hmm. The Internet Freedom Act?? Wait a second. Citizen’s United??? Now come on! When I hear these kind of names The Original Artists counsel me.
Perhaps The Original Artists did me a favor. Maybe in fact they were on a thankless humanitarian mission to teach all kids to be somewhat skeptical, to be a bit dubious about claims, to check their assumptions, confirm their facts, and question the lying truths told by legislators. Maybe it is only thanks to The Original Artists that I became an atheist and an scientist and try my best not to mislead others with spin and clever words that are technically true but intentionally false.
So thanks The Original Artists. Everything that happens to us, welcome or not, makes us who we are. And I for one would not want to be anyone else. $9.99 plus Shipping and Handling was in reality a true bargain.