When I saw the Axe commercial with the beautiful woman who recommends that men wash their balls, I was mildly amused. When I saw Lewis Black do his schtick about wanting to hire someone to walk in front of him and constantly wash his balls, I laughed pretty damn hard. But, when I saw a cup expressly made for washing beer pong balls, I was offended.
Beer Pong, an “innocent” drinking game made with inexpensive Solo cups and ping pong balls, has a huge commercial industry around it that I only have just become aware of: tables, balls, cups, and … ball washers. Somebody somewhere has decided that plastic cups that come 40 in a bag for $3.99 are just not good enough, and “Offical Pong” cups are a necessity. Sure, when you were in college and took that closet door off its hinges to turn it into a pong table, that was fine, that was fun, who cared? But know that once you have some disposable income, you can buy a beer pong table from companies who specialize in them, as well as Walmart.
If the closet door was the start of a DYI personality trait, don’t worry; site upon site will give you ideas on how to customize your game table.
This is America, after all, so it’s all about the money and making things easy: If your online order of “official pong balls” hasn’t arrived, many liquor stores and beer distributors now sell bags of ping pong balls right at the register.
The first time I saw the pong balls in my local liquor store, I thought about the gift shops we get dropped into when we get off amusement park rides. I am not saying I’m a fan of the practice, but we’ve grown used to being able to buy everything from an action shot of us on the ride (feeding into our never satiated need for immediate gratification) to a plush toy, key chain, shot glass or giant pencil with the name of the ride emblazoned along the side. I have three kids; I’ve bought the furry Yeti hand immediately after riding Expedition Everest. We have had so many oddly shaped but always HUGE souvenir glasses that we couldn’t close the cabinet. And yes, I have many, many regrets when I once again succumbed to the marketing blitz, but I tell myself that my kids will remember more than the plastic sword from Pirates of the Caribbean.
For some reason, when Harry Potter was huge and my kids were completely enamoured, I encouraged the insanity. We bought the Every Flavor Jelly Beans and Chocolate Frogs and Fizzing Whizbees candy to take to the midnight show of the movies. I had the books themselves “delivered by owl” on the day of their release on the years that we didn’t go to the bookstore at midnight, standing among hundreds and hundreds of kids in eyeglasses without lenses and crooked lightening “tattoos” on their foreheads. The fact that the mania sprang up around a book made me accept and even celebrate the paraphernalia that sprang up around it. But, when I received an email offering me a shrink-wrapped set of the Shades of Grey triology with handcuffs and a blindfold, I gotta say, I winced.
I know nothing about anime, but I know that fans of anime can buy candles named after their favorite characters. I’ll admit to my own “sucker” purchases so I need to know: What does Zero smell like?
When my daughter Allison turned 21 she wanted a party in our yard. We grilled and I bought a photo cake, and she and her friends unfolded our $30 plastic card table and opened a bag of Solo cups. They set up in the driveway and fun was had by all until the police came at 10 p.m. and told us to quiet down. We didn’t have a ball washer, but Alli and her friends still talk about the party.