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`Getting real' harder to do these days.

Byline: Sid McKeen

COLUMN: WRY & GINGER

A day in the life of William J. Ersatz, manager of a downtown shop specializing in realistic artificial flowers.

At 6 a.m., he is awakened by the sound of a crowing rooster on his bedside clock (artificial alarm).

6:05, stumbles groggily into the bathroom and shaves his face with foamy shaving cream (artificial soap) and cleans his teeth with an electric toothbrush with artificial bristles.

6:15, gulps down a glass of artificial orange juice and two slices of toast lathered with oleo (artificial butter), followed by a steaming cup of instant coffee flavored with artificial cream and artificial sugar. (He'd prefer bacon and eggs but fears winding up with artificial arteries.)

7:30, pins an artificial rose to the lapel of his artificial suede jacket and heads for his carport (artificial garage). He jumps into the leased car he artificially owns, the one with the artificial leather upholstery and fake white sidewalls, and drives off after pulling on his imitation pigskin gloves.

7:45, slips a CD into his dashboard CD player (artificial radio) to listen to artificial music while enjoying the breeze from his air conditioner (artificial climate).

8, pulls into gas station to pump his own tankful of gas (artificial service). For his fuel, mixed with ethanol (artificial gas), he pays with a credit card (artificial money).

8:30, arriving at the store, he first checks his telephone answering machine (artificial Miss Jones), then, sitting in front of a wall-size mural of a field of flowers (artificial scenery), he dictates a letter on his dictation machine (artificial Miss Smith).

Noon, with little time for lunch, he runs out to a nearby fast-food cafeteria (artificial restaurant) and wolfs down a hamburger and soda (contents: calcium cyclamate, phosphoric acid, saccharin and artificial flavorings). For dessert, he orders a sundae with artificial whipped cream.

2 p.m., Mr. Ersatz writes a memo and makes 11 copies on the Xerox machine (artificial originals).

5, homeward bound, he tunes in a sports call-in show on his car radio (for years he has indulged in sports only artificially, as a spectator, not a participant.

6, arriving home, he is met by Mrs. Ersatz, who hands him his imitation meerschaum pipe and his artificial leather slippers. "How do you like my new hair?" she asks, turning her head to show off her new wig. "It's lovely," he replies artificially.

7, together, they sit down to watch TV news (artificial life) and a series of sitcoms with gales of artificial laughter, then off to bed after taking sleeping tablets to get a few hours of artificial sleep.

"Life if real," said Longfellow, "life is earnest." Of course, that gentleman has been dead now for well over a hundred years. Comic Jackie Vernon, much later on the scene, used to crack, "I've been using so much saccharin I expect to get artificial diabetes."That sounds more like what's happening today.

Reach Sid McKeen at sidmck@earthlink.net.
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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 19, 2009
Words:499
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