“Dad, they’re not taking this seriously.” The Beast’s son says contemptuously.
The Beast, lost in the Land O’ Drudge, looks up from his computer and at the TV. “Who?”
“Those guys on the panel. They’re not making any sense. It’s not fair to the girl.”
Ah. Nickelodeon is on. It’s February vacation week and the boy is watching a rerun of an old kids game show. There’s a four-person panel sitting behind a long, gaudy bench (two men in their 20′s and two teens – a redhaired young Danny Bonaduce clone and a chunky girl) shooting questions at a younger girl standing at a podium with the cute blonde host (who looks a bit old to be running a kid’s show but they have her dressed young. The Beast would guess the host’s age at about thirty). The contestant appears to have some sort of special skill which the panelists are trying to divine. It’s a retread of the old “What’s My Line?” game show obviously. But with a difference: this panel appears quite stoned.
Stoned? No, not a Nick kid’s show. The Beast’s first impression must be wrong. Let’s watch for a few minutes and look a bit closer.
Hmmm… droopy, dull eyes. Slack facial muscles, inability to track…No obvious redness of the sclera, but the eyes are quite glassy (Let’s face it – Visine can only do so much: it gets the red out, but it can’t do anything about the droopies or the giggles or the mental meandering stupids.).
These guys are cooked!
Ok so they are being silly, so what? It’s obvious that these panelists are supposed to be silly and entertaining, but it’s also obvious that they’re supposed to ask a few probing questions here and there. However, when you have just blown a spleef behind the studio during lunch, probing questions pretty much become impossible, so about all you can do is throw stuff around the stage and giggle imbecillically, which is what they are doing now. Even the ten year old son can tell something is not right, “Daddy, all four of them just asked the same stupid question in a row. They’re not even being funny!” he complains.
What to tell the boy? “Son, they’re not taking this thing seriously because they’re higher than Cheech and Chong at a Bob Marley concert!”
The Beast came of age in the late 70′s and early 80′s – he is no saint. He and his buddies attended more than one college class in an altered state, so he knows what that looks like. And he is looking at it right now – four clear blips on The old Dope Radar Screen.
Several years ago The Beast ran a manufacturing crew at a factory that periodically employed up to three hundred temporary workers at a time. Since most came out of what we will euphemistically call the “Casual Work Force”, many would disapper on break to come back exhibiting exactly the same behavior and appearance as these young panelists in this Nickelodeon Game show. Youngsters Stoned On The Job – seen it just about every day for the last fifteen years.
It may be improbable that a group of teens and twenty-somethings working in the z-list entertainment industry occasionally show up to work high, and it probably doesn’t matter that one or two later went on to careers playing in a rock and roll band. It is possible that red eyes and droopiness can be written off to the consequence of working a long day under harsh studio lights, grinding out show after show. Perhaps the buckets of green “Nick-slime” that are routinely dumped on their heads has excessive chlorine in it. The Beast cannot pretend to special knowlege or insight into the state of these young adults.
But they sure looked cooked to him. What to tell the boy?
The Beast stands up. “Lets go out and play in the snow, son.”