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TV DINING CREATES A LOSS OF APPETITE

Like most of us these days, when I dine I do it in front of a television set. A tray of lone cuisine, an array of ugly commercials and it's suppertime 2010.

Just as I'm about to bite into my meatloaf and macaroni, pretty women with a certain condition that makes it difficult to ride horses without pain, or pretty women with underarm distress, parade my TV. One woman is painfully on horseback with her arms and legs up. I get the idea. And heartburn.

It used to be that an evening meal was accompanied by candles and music. Now it's complete with unmentionable problems and graphic illustrations. Things that Aunt Bertha never talked about are now splattered on the tube, and men and women in white coats are writing prescriptions for maladies she never knew existed, and even the late Lydia Pinkham would find truly shocking.

As I'm ready to try to dine again, I'm accosted by the words "irregularity, gas, bloating and diarrhea." In attempting to sell the remedy, they insist on telling me the uncomfortable symptoms. My macaroni is now queasy rather than cheesy.

Another spot advises me to tell my doctor if I have symptoms of heart trouble or if I have thoughts of suicide. I had none of those thoughts before the TV added to my dining pleasure. My thoughts now advise me to switch the channel. I do that and there's the hospital bed roaming around behind an unsuspecting dolt who doesn't realize his days are numbered. At the end, an announcer lists a series of troubles I might encounter if I fail to use the prescribed medicine, and then adds, "Other rare and curious side effects may occur." I'm curious enough to imagine what they are. Suddenly, I need an acid reflux tablet.

I'm all set to enjoy dinner when middle-aged men who suffer an embarrassing problem consult with white coat doctors who graciously write them a prescription. They the gray haired men are suddenly with beautiful women who smile longingly at them as they march into the moonlight and eventually end up in claw-foot bathtubs on the beach. Madison Avenue romance. The men are happy. The women are happy, I guess. The bathtubs may cause back pain, but there's always another commercial for that.

Then comes the disclaimer: Something about consulting your doctor after more than four hours. Oh, the embarrassment of the ER. While I think about it, my macaroni congeals.

I guess I'll have to watch Turner Classic Movies from now on. No commercials and lots of Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne. I wonder what's on today?

Andy Hardy goes beserk?

New Port Richey resident Jim Aylward was formerly a nationally syndicated columnist and radio host in New York City.

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