A couple weeks ago, I was stopped at the intersection of Fairfax and Beverly, and a billboard over the corner gas station offered me this:

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

While waiting for the left turn arrow, I pondered the billboard’s connotations. (Yes, it’s a long light.) A diet cola catered specifically toward men seems like an oxymoron in and of itself…if not just plain unnecessary. Like, does this mean that all other diet colas that have come before were created specifically for women? OR, were they created for all mankind, and if so, should we females be offended that the first gender-specific soda–a DIET soda, no less (honestly, which gender do you think generally throws more money at THAT industry?)–is marketed especially toward Dudes? Well, no, I’d really prefer to have the male-to-female salary gap closed before I throw a fit over not having a lady-tailored cola drink…

But I kind of love the billboard, and the entire Pepsi Max marketing campaign, even if it serves no other purpose for me than an object of amusement. I don’t know much about the world of advertising (I have seen a few episodes of Mad Men, though), but I like to imagine the sort of things that got tossed around that particular brainstorming session.

“Nothing flashy. The colors should be dark, sedate. The soda’s for men, so the signage should be simple.”
“Choose a font that’s easy to read. Men can’t understand those frilly fonts, like cursive and whatnot.”
“A slightly crushed can is the way to go. It appears a little world-worn, rough around the edges, like dudes. Also, it’s reminiscent of shotgunned beer cans being crushed against foreheads, so it works on a subliminal level, as well.”

There’s a couple other billboards around town that are even more…specific, let’s say.

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

“All men, no matter what age, are convinced they can have the body of Brad Pitt if only they tried. So they should look at this beverage like a step in the right direction. Also, any ad that has the word ‘boobs’ in it works on a subliminal level, as well.”
“What do all men have in common, no matter the demographic? The love of bacon. Except, of course, for the Muslims and kosher Jews, but we’ll reel those guys in with the man boobs spot.”

Oh, how the mind reels…

As it stands, the idea of a dude-specific soda just seems pretty fucking dumb. I mean, come on Pepsi! Don’t you remember what happened with Crystal Pepsi?! Or better yet, your top competitor’s attempt at cornering the grunge music loving, plaid shirt and combat boots wearing, Gen X demographic? (Okay, I totally bought into that second one, but I was a highly impressionable, sugar-lovin’ middle schooler.)

There is *one* thing that would make this whole Man Soda thing totally awesome, if you ask me. (Pay attention, Pepsi marketing team.) Just as you have to be over the age of 21 (or have a decent fake ID) to buy alcoholic beverages in the US, the same sort of rule should apply to the new Pepsi Max for Men. No, I don’t mean to suggest that only individuals over the age of 21 should be allowed to purchase your delicious (I’m sure, I’m sure) new beverage. No. I’m suggesting that some sort of rule and/or restriction should be put in place which would ensure that ONLY MEN (your target demographic, after all) are allowed to purchase said delicious beverage.

I know what you’re thinking. Outrageous! Sexist! Inflammatory! Perhaps. And, Dear Pepsi People, if your current sales of Pepsi Max for Men are reaching or surpassing your projected goals, then please disregard my suggestion. But if for some crazy, unforeseen reason your sales are slightly lackluster, then please consider the following. If a woman is denied purchase of your delicious new beverage, she will be outraged, yes. But also, her curiosity will be piqued. As she makes her way back to her car after being denied at the 7-11, she’ll wonder to herself, “What does Pepsi Max for Men have that regular Pepsi doesn’t?” And like a booze-loving teenager without the benefit of a quality fake ID, she’ll scan the parking lot for a kindly male stranger she can slip a wad of bills to and send inside to retrieve her forbidden prize, all the while thinking, “I have to have this precious nectar.”

For here is something you may not have considered, Dear Pepsi People. While dudes jonesin’ for a tasty diet soda may be a niche market of sorts, there’s an even nichier market that wields more power, more impulsive decision making, and more obsessive desire–Women Who Want What They Can’t Have.

Think about it. You know where to find me. And, you’re welcome.

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Dear Buddha,

My boyfriend and I booked a trip to Cancun over a month ago–we did tons of research to find the best resort, and we’ve been counting down the days… We’re supposed to land in Cancun next Tuesday. Only now, with all this swine flu madness, we’re thinking about rescheduling our trip.

We’re both so frustrated and disappointed. I mean, we’ve been really looking forward to our trip! May is supposed to be one of the best times to go to Cancun. If we have to wait and reschedule for some time after the media hysteria dies down, there’s a good chance we’ll end up heading south of the border between July and September–hurricane season!

Seeing as you hail from Mexico, I was wondering if you had any advice. Should we just stock up on face masks and hand sanitizer, hop on the plane, and enjoy the near empty beach? Or should we wait it out, cross our fingers, and hope that hurricane season isn’t as severe as the current media storm?

Sincerely,
Kiki Dupont


Dear Kiki,

Shame on the media for once again fueling mass hysteria, and essentially making a mountain out of a molehill (or in this case, a black plague out of a flu). Mexico has always been–and still is–one of the most ideal vacation locales. And let me temper your concerns by reminding you: there’s ALWAYS something for tourists to be wary of when visiting my beloved homeland, be it drug wars, corrupt policemen, or the infamous Montezuma’s Revenge. If you keep all of that in mind, what’s a little piggie flu on top of it?

I say you go ahead and get on that plane Tuesday. If things escalate while you’re south of the border and you’re not allowed back into the United States, the worst you’re looking at is a (forced) extended vacation! And if you do make it back home at the pre-scheduled end of your trip, you can expect many of your friends, family, and colleagues to treat you like a leper in the midst of a flare-up, but what’s a little shunning gonna hurt the all-around glow you’ve acquired during your week at the all-inclusive?

Enjoy your trip, as scheduled. Just one last piece of advice–and if you’re anything like me, this will be the most difficult pill to swallow: keep your tongue to yourself.

Via con dios,
Buddha

Dear Buddha,

I totally blew off my New Year’s resolution and have yet to shed the weight I put on over the holidays. I keep meaning to go to the gym, but every time I get ready to leave my apartment, something really good comes on television and I end up back on the sofa, sitting through mini-marathons of “Rock of Love” while eating a box of Entemann’s cheese danish in my workout clothes. I just can’t seem to get my act together.

With swimsuit season just around the corner, I’m starting to get really anxious. My husband wants to take me to Ft. Lauderdale for our wedding anniversary in June, but I’m worried that after a winter spent wearing loose fitting clothes and insisting on having our marital relations only in pitch darkness, the sight of my flabby beach body will have him running for shelter beneath a coconut tree during a wind storm.

Do you have any suggestions for how I could shed the weight fast?

Signed,

Fupa Wochalski

Dear Fupa,

Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! This is a time when you should be celebrating what you have, not fretting over what you wish you didn’t. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say. Rock out with your gut out. I do. So you’ve got a little muffin-top. Well you know what? Muffins are delicious.

Don’t fall prey to our society’s impossibly high standards of beauty. Those rail-thin models in all the magazines are unhappy and underfed, which means that their DOGS are most likely unhappy and underfed. Not all chihuahuas shake, you know–just the ones that live with models. You, on the other hand, sound like you’d make an excellent dog companion. I don’t know what a cheese danish is, but I’m guessing a good portion of it ends up in your lap and/or on the floor when you’re shoveling it down your gullet, and any dog would be happy to be around that. So, dear Fupa, my advice is this–get a dog. We don’t care how big you are, just as long as you don’t sit on us.

Cordially,

Buddha

Everyone knows the Buddha is enlightened. He is wise and gleefully plump. Rubbing his belly will bring you good luck. No, I’m not talking about the Buddha that spawned an -ism, I’m talking about Buddha the chubby chihuahua, my four-legged companion for the past six years.

Aside from his occasional rage blackouts (I blame over-breeding), random, uncontrollable licking fits, and the tendency to pee a little out of excitement when his favorite people come to visit, he’s quite sagely. I feel it is my duty to share his wisdom with the rest of the world, and in so doing, I can only hope to preserve and support the fragile seedling that is our collective psyche. Buddha’s here to help.

Buddha ponders existence in his kicky turtleneck sweater

Buddha ponders existence in his kicky turtleneck sweater

crippling-lack2

I feel kind of like an a-hole when taking part in any form of self promotion, but…umm…that’s kind of what a blog is, right? Like, I expect (or flat out hope) that people are out there reading what I’m writing, so why not just run with it, eh?

Around Christmas 2008, I started making these greeting cards to stack up and give as gifts to my most beloved, slightly askew friends. (Call me cheap if you will.) When someone mentioned that I might actually try and *sell* the things, I laughed it off. I mean, they look like they were created by a demented four-year-old with sub-par drawing skills. But apparently, such a thing has its draw.

There’s nothing I enjoy quite as much as amusing myself in the privacy of my own home while my fat chihuahua looks on with an expression of mild concern. “Greetings, Cards!” helps me scratch such an itch.