Have you ever been watching TV and been quite suddenly presented with the unexpected? Well, I'm sure you certainly have. Good entertainment is supposed to keep the audience on its toes. I'm talking about something slightly different in this case. Have you ever been sitting and watching TV and an endorsement commercial came on - let's say a commercial for Liberty Medical for the sake of argument - and you were almost certain that the person endorsing the product - let's say Wilford Brimley for the sake of argument - was dead, and had been so for years? Well, believe it or not, this is what happens to me each time I see Liberty Medical commercials and see Wilford Brimley endorsing the company. It has gotten to the point where every time I see one of these commercials I audibly and incredulously say, "Wilford Brimley is still alive?!"
And so was started what I like to call the Wilford Brimley Effect. The Wilford Brimley Effect holds such power over me that now I no longer know whether or not I am truly surprised that he is alive - or wait, is Wilford Brimley alive? You see, it happened again. But the WBE is more than pure shock at the discovery of Brimley's continued vitality. The WBE is also the pure shock that upon finally accepting that Brimley remains one of the living, you discover that he has actually dwelled on this planet for much less than 127 years. Surprising, isn't it? At the same time, I have also discovered that the WBE has spawned many similar effects.
Perhaps it is the consequence of having weekday daytime television on in the cafeteria during lunch, but it seems that I have discovered quite a few of these similar effects that I shall call Wilford Brimley Effect Analogs (or WBEAs). The two greatest of these WBEAs that I have discovered are the Robert Wagner Effect (RWE) and the Susan Lucci Effect (SLE). The RWE actually operates in an opposite fashion to the WBE. When I see Robert Wagner, I don't believe for a second that he is as old as Wilford Brimley. And then, given that Brimley is only 72, with his 73rd birthday coming in September - much younger than the apparent 127 years of age, it becomes almost impossible to fathom that Robert Wagner is actually 77 years old. Consequently, the result of the WBE and the RWE working in tandem is to make Wagner seem much younger than he actually is.
And then we come to the SLE. The SLE works in a similar manner as the WBE, but it does not operate free from the WBE's influence. Obviously, when I (and probably a lot of you as well) look at Susan Lucci, I do not think for a heartbeat that she is under 75 years of age. And even if you were to show me her birth certificate one million times, I still would almost be willing to wager you that she is not only sixty years old. But this is when the WBE kicks in as well. I know that Wilford Brimley is only 72 years old, but I think that Susan Lucci is at least that age. However, at the same time, I think that Wilford Brimley is older than 72 (by several decades), and thus, Susan Lucci in my mind must be older than 75. Do you follow the logic? As I type this, I have in fact convinced myself for the moment that Susan Lucci is 86 years, 4 months, 17 days.
Some famous people for whom the WBE applies: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Keith Richards, and Brigitte Nielsen.
UPDATE - 10:00 AM: Wilford Brimley is still alive?!