You can say whatever you want as long as you have an asterisk after it. It seems to me that more and more information that comes our way requires a disclaimer, a warning, or a footnote. Remember Walter Cronkite. Whenever I heard him, I knew he was giving it to me straight. I loved him. I wished he were my grandpa. But you knew that the news he gave you was thoroughly investigated, factual, and gee, real. I could never imagine an asterisk hanging around his head.
Everything, but everything seems to be developing a new identity. It’s called the asterisk. Products advertisements have asterisks. Medicines have huge asterisks. Financing has plenty of asterisks. Turn in any direction and you will find a big fat asterisk. And even when you read all the print after that asterisk, you’re still clueless or resigned that they've got you, no matter what.
But there are far more asterisks out there that are not seen. Invisible ones. They float by your ear when you hear a product promise something or when the news is reported by card readers not journalists or when a politicians speaks for an issue, for his party and its a dozen parrot renditions of the exact same song, “More of the Same.” So the asterisk above reads, “I don’t really think for myself. This is what I am supposed to say.” Our government is a veritable garbage scow of asterisks.
My head tilts to the side like a confused puppy. It all seems slightly askew or completely outrageous. Who do I believe? But there doesn’t seem to be a big fat asterisk anywhere that I can see. I beginning to imagine asterisks attached to everything I hear on the airwaves, the news, facts, reality shows, talk shows, and speeches. How about people I talk to on the phone or in person. Do they all have big fat asterisks attached to them too?
My advice: Whenever anyone says anything it’s best to imagine an asterisk at the end of each sentence.
Oh, don’t you look sweet*! (Why don’t you wear something age appropriate you twit?)
Don’t worry. You’ll be next*. (Yeah, first you have to start sighing audibly, then strum your fingers on my counter, look at your watch for the umpteenth time, then turn red in the face.)
The serviceman will be there between 10am and 3pm*. (Ha, ha. We didn’t say what day.)
We’re looking for someone with exactly your qualifications*. (But…. not you.)
Your secret* is safe* with me*. (I’ll just post it on my blog.)
I’ll have my manager call* you*. (Sucker, like that’s ever going to happen.)
And watch out for those multiple compound asterisked sentences.
You can tap * into your * home’s equity * and make it work* for you*. (We can help you rob yourself blind.)
De-regulation* of the industry* will increase competition* increase your options* and lower your costs*. (Ho, ho, that’s a good one.)
Regulation* will increase accountability*, protect the consumer* and the environment*. (Another good one! Oh, please stop. Your making my sides ache.)
Our books* are audited* by a trusted independent* outside* auditing firm, with AAA rating*. (You believed us? Sorry, our bad.)
Soon, an asterisk is going to be at the end of the word America*. Oh wait; there are several asterisks after it already. But we don’t need anymore. Do we need a national enema to clean out our big asterisks? (Hint, hint, Unmom). Or do we keep our heads up our asterisk. Sorry this is becoming Ranting* Tuesday instead of Random Thoughts Tuesday. Just remember when you hear someone speak a so-called fact; there may be an asterisk at the end. The killer part is that everything after the asterisk is silent.