It's two in the morning. You're sprawled on the couch, drifting in and out of consciousness. An episode of Forensic Files flickers unwatched across the TV screen ... the oddly comforting white noise of a grisly tale of murder and depravity easing you into slumber.
And then you hear it.
The slow plinking of a very sad piano filters through your haze.
Instantly your eyes SNAP open!
With all the grace of a pile of lumber tumbling down a flight of stairs, you lurch up from your repose, scrambling madly for the remote!
You mash all the buttons in blind panic ... desperate to avoid what's coming ...!
But it's too late.
"They call me 'The Night-Ruiner'!"
Before your fumbly, sleep-palsied thumb can find the GO-AWAY button ... you've seen them.
The filthy, the emaciated, the scabrous. Quivering in rusty cages. Their terrified, imploring eyes boring holes straight into your soul.
Like a pitchfork twisting through your guts, reminding you what you already knew ... humans, whether by action or neglect, can be goddamn monsters.
And yup. It's official. Your night is ruined.
Thanks a LOT, Sarah.
(And not only that, you used to like that song! Can you ever hear it again without having a Pavlovian tear-gush response?)
But I have a humble suggestion for Ms. McLachlan and her various cohorts whose seemingly feature-length misery-paloozas haunt my late-night cable box.
I WILL PAY YOU TO STOP.
I mean it.
The ASPCA, Humane Society and other such organizations should band together and launch Kickstarter campaigns in each of the major media markets.
The purpose of the campaign? To raise the funding needed to run their good and vital operations in those regions, of course.
But what do we get if they reach their goal?
They promise NOT to play their horribly upsetting ads in that area.
I suspect I'm like a lot of people out there when I say I would pay cash money to ensure those deeply troubling and tear-inducing ads do not show up on my television. Ever.
The thing is though, their current ads just can't be working very well. Because logically, people who love animals don't want to see soul-searing footage of animals being abused. They're going to change the channel.
In fact, I personally have NEVER seen the end of one of those commercials. Like a lot of people, I've changed the channel long before they've had a chance to make their donation pitch. I wouldn't know where to send the money even if I wanted to.
So why not make a promise that if folks donate enough cash, they'll withhold the thing that so many of us find so horrifying?
If that sounds familiar, it should. That's precisely how a protection racket works.
"Some nice tear ducts you got there. Be a shame if something happened to 'em."
Now I realize this is a dangerous precedent to set. If it worked, other less scrupulous advertisers would surely try to exploit this same tactic to try squeezing money out of a beleaguered public by crafting the most irritating and grating commercials possible. (To be honest, I can't say for sure the people at Intel aren't already setting us up for this right now with those execrable and profoundly unfunny Jim Parsons ads.)
But I'm willing to take that chance.
Now, if the anti-animal cruelty folks wanted to sweeten the deal and really make us love them, they could replace their existing ads with ones featuring cute, hilarious and heart-warming animal footage.
After all, if the Internet has taught us anything (I mean, other than: "never read the comments"), it's that people LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at pictures and videos of adorable cats and dogs.
If they really want people to watch their ads all the way to the end, they need to make it possible for us to watch them all the way to the end.
Because I can say with absolute certainty that you're MUCH more likely to get money out of me by just showing me pictures of, say, this guy for sixty straight seconds:
"You can't look away, can you. And you know what? You don't have to! Yay!"
Seriously, where do I send the check?
Till next we meet ...