bait and switch

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He had it all… Television good looks, a deep radio voice, and a charismatic personality. I remember seeing him on the local news channel when I was a kid and thinking to myself, “That guy’s got it all”! I don’t remember what channel he was on, there were only a handful back then, but he seemed to be every where; special events, fund raisers, commercials, and even some sporting events.

He had one of those personalities that made people like him, even if they didn’t even know him, kinda like the character of Ron Burgundy in the movie Anchorman, only better looking and much whiter teeth.

It was this local celebrity with his smooth talkin’, suave looking, sincerity laden rhetoric, that kept appearing on the local TV station pitching ads for a big local car dealership. He ranted about the incredible deals to be had only at that particular dealership and only for a limited time.

“No down payment and a low, low monthly payment”! was the catch phrase in the commercials he starred in. He’d always open the commercials introducing himself, for us locals, it was like when Johnny Cash introduced himself… “Yeah – Hello”! – “Everyone knows who are, but it sure is cool when you say it”!

I was young and dumb, which would also cover somewhat innocent and gullible… I couldn’t afford the cars I wanted, but I could afford that super duper deal of the century, especially with no money down! I was about to learn a lesson or two of the cold hard facts of life… What I like to call, “Wisdom the hard way.”

I ventured down town to the central area where all the car dealerships were at the time. There it was, no way you could miss the car parked on the roof. It would be years before I put together the physiological effects of raising your chin into the air and the positive emotions emanating from that physical act.

Oh, they were good, I mean really good! I couldn’t recognize that smirk on a person’s face that could read the sign I didn’t know I had on my forehead that read, “Sucker”… “What can we do for you today”? the salesman asked in an overly friendly way. I mumbled something about the TV special. “Ahh -Yes”! – “Just step inside here and I’ll have them bring it around”!

The salesman without a soul led me like a sheep to slaughter… I was looking around like a fool, half expecting to see Mr. Local Celebrity somewhere on the premises. A few minutes later he came back and said something like, “I’m sorry, we just sold the last one of those, but I have some even better I can show you”!

You know the rest of the story… Tax, license, doc fees, transfer fees, Mr. Local Celebrity fees… Next thing you know a fool and what little money he had were parted. My first real life lesson in the ways of the ole’ bait and switch technique.

Things aren’t always what they seem. I was too young to realize the local celebrity was just doing the best he could to make his way in life. He continued to do well for years, but like all things in life, there is change… and so did he. I haven’t seen him on TV for over a decade now.

Like all of us, famous or not, Mr. Celebrity will make a choice here on earth as to where he’ll spend eternity, just like all of us. Only God knows for sure the number of our days.

The local celebrity’s days ended a couple of weeks ago… They found him and his wife dead in a local hotel room.

With a suicide note…