Dave Barry

Classic ’98: Of radio earpieces, unwashed laundry

Dave Barry
Dave Barry File

This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, December 6, 1998

So I'm sitting in a CNN studio in Los Angeles. They have smeared makeup on my face so it will look naturally orange on television. A man named Mario has inserted an earpiece into my ear, which has me a little concerned because, not to brag, or anything, but I am the Mark McGwire of earwax production. I'm afraid that Mario will need a winch to get that thing back out of there. I'm also concerned about whether Mario cleans this earpiece between guests, and what other guests it was inserted into before me. Henry Kissinger, for example. Yuck.

The earpiece enables me to hear a voice coming from some other city. Atlanta, maybe, or New York, or possibly Addis Ababa. I'm on a book tour, and the way it works is, you go to a city, and then you go to a studio, or you get on a phone, and you talk to somebody in some OTHER city. ``Never let the author talk to anybody who is in the same city as the author,'' is the first rule of book tours. The second rule is, ``Never give the author a chance to do his laundry.'' I've reached the point where I'm terrified that when I go through airport security - which I sometimes do several times a day - I will be asked to open my suitcase, and it will be like that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they open the Ark of the Covenant and the horrible evil spirits come out and dissolve the Nazis, except instead it will be my undershorts that come hurtling out, shrieking, to attack the security personnel with the murderous fury of unwashed laundry that has spent way too long in a cramped airless environment with only its own disgusting self for company.

So anyway, I'm sitting there with the thing in my ear, getting ready to talk on CNN about my book. I can see on the TV monitor that former congressperson Pat Schroeder is on there, and former congressperson Elizabeth Holtzman, and some other political experts, and they're talking about waitress moms, who have replaced soccer moms as this year's Important Voting Bloc, the result being that for a brief period before the elections it was almost impossible to get a cup of coffee in a restaurant because the waitresses were all surrounded by TV news crews demanding to know how they felt about Bosnia.

So I'm sort of half-listening to the experts talk about waitress moms, waiting for them to finish so I can talk about my book. Suddenly, I see MY orange face on the screen, and the voice in my ear is saying, to my horror, that we're about to hear MY views on: waitress moms. And of course I have no views on waitress moms. The issue that was actually on my mind at that moment was the risk of catching an earwax-transmitted disease from Henry Kissinger. So I pretty much just started blithering into the camera. I have very little recollection of what I actually said; I believe my basic point was that we should just turn the whole federal government over to waitress moms, because at least they can add.

The previous day I had been on a morning-TV show in San Francisco, and the other two guests were, I swear, a Siberian lynx named Oksana and a man who was billed as Eyebrow Architect Mica Klauber. Oksana mainly prowled around looking predatory, as if to say, ``Try to put makeup on ME, and you can kiss your larynx goodbye.'' Meanwhile, in an interview with the cheerful TV host, Eyebrow Architect Klauber was discussing, dramatically, the Do's and Don'ts of tweezing. For example: ``Don't just tweeze straight across! That's too much like a shrub!''

Speaking of the upper face: Several TV makeup persons told me that the big trend in California - half the population of Los Angeles has had this procedure done - is to have a plastic surgeon inject botulism toxin into your forehead. Really. The toxin paralyzes certain facial muscles, so you can't frown, even if you try. This makes you wrinkle-free and younger-looking. Of course, it also limits you to the same range of facial expressions as a lizard; this is why, more and more, you will notice that TV and movie personalities are indicating their emotional state by waving their entire heads around, or darting out their tongues, as if to catch passing insects.

I don't know about you, but I would never have this procedure done. If I were a spy, and the enemy captured me, and they said, ``Tell us what you know, or we will INJECT BOTULISM TOXIN IN YOUR FACE!'' I would be talking faster than Richard Simmons on amphetamines. Yet Californians are PAYING for it.

Speaking of weird, I had a fascinating conversation with three guys on radio station KLBJ-FM in Austin, Texas. (Naturally, in accordance with Book Tour Rules, I was not IN Austin, Texas, when I talked with them; I was in Chicago.) These three guys - Dale Dudley, Brother Hezekiah and Jeff ``Yetti'' Gish - all swallowed dimes, and then had their listeners bet on who would be the first radio personality to have his dime emerge from the end that he does not talk into the microphone with. They even brought a mobile X-ray machine into the radio studio so they could find out who was leading. This is definitely a guy thing; women view this type of competition as incredibly stupid. Then again, women tweeze.

Me, I would never swallow a dime for any reason, unless it was specifically listed on my book-tour schedule. I do whatever they tell me to, in hopes that some day they'll let me go home, see my family, get some rest, and - above all - call the bomb-disposal unit to take care of my suitcase.

©1998 Dave Barry

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