The Omnipresent Pharmaceutical Industry or….Take at Your Own Risk


When I was a Kid in the 1950’s and 1960’s, there were TV drug ads only for aspirin, Rolaids Anti-Acid, and Alka-Seltzer. It was a more innocent time, when my parents were embarrassed even by the innocuous intimacy of bathroom tissue commercials. Today my parents would be shocked by the frequency of drug commercials that appear, one or another of them, every five to ten minutes.


The veneers for these ads are generally pleasant settings in woodland areas or beside pastoral lakes or affluent seaside cottages. There is always familial bonding and laughter with friends, including beautiful, romping dogs, activities like fishing with grandkids, or simply sitting blissfully on benches of lovely gardens in public parks or backyards. All of this manufactured joy often beguiles me into forgetting the intent of the messages until the final moments of revelation about the terrifying possible side effects that can accompany use of the meds.


There are times when two to three such commercials will be aired in a row, often making me feel uneasy about our culture’s apparently cavalier way of accepting medication as our only path to happiness and good health. This prevalent attitude reminds me of the novel Brave New World (1931) by Aldous Huxley, and the seeming dependence by that fictional society upon “Soma tablets” to take care of everything, with no one, except one man, to question their validity or possible danger. All of this compelled me to create a little parody inspired by the immense power and presence of the drug industry in our world today:

Use Pylorexene with caution. Side effects may include nausea, internal bleeding, blindness, stroke, desire to commit suicide or murder, uncontrollable urges to stick your finger into an electric light socket, to pee on a neighbor’s new car, or to shoplift tubes of expensive toothpastes. See your doctor if side effects persist, and eat plenty of peanut butter.


OK, that felt good. Now I have to deal with an actual problem. Yesterday my next-door neighbor’s house began the installation of a new roof by a team of four workmen, who have been making  sounds constantly that I might otherwise have guessed was a group of fifty toddlers with drum sets, pie pans, and spoons. The work, said my neighbor, won’t be completed for at least two more days. I’m now ashamed to confess that I then went directly to the medicine chest for a Bayer aspirin.   JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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