MY GIRLFRIEND IS A TV COMMERCIAL
By: Andrew Dunn
My girlfriend is a TV commercial. I met her in St. Louis at the hotel bar when she told me
about the toothpaste that made her teeth white. Extra white. Gleaming white. I named her
Shannon and ordered another drink.
She came into my hotel room later that night. This time she flashed by in a sequence of faces
while a voice insisted that their soda wasn’t just any soda. It was the best soda. Except I hate
soda. And I hated that the voice used Shannon that way.
“My girlfriend,” I hadn’t shaved and probably smelled of hangover and hotel soap, “she’s in
TV you know. Commercials and stuff yeah.”
The gentleman seated beside me feigned interest. I found that strange since he had struck up
our chit chat in the first place.
“She’s gonna be a big star one day.” I couldn’t help but promote Shannon.
“Oh yeah,” the gentleman said, “well that’s good. Really good.”
No. It was best. Really best.
My girlfriend is a TV commercial. She dances in high heels and then brushes her teeth so they
are gleaming white and then she uses an exercise bike in her living room and pretends to be a
reporter in a storm. Then she struts across the screen and buttons her shirt but Shannon gives me
a glimpse at what she looks like in a bra.
The voice. I imagined it belonged to a surly man. Tall with broad shoulders. Chiseled face.
He dressed well too. Better than me. His fancy clothes and gravelly baritone were the lures that
captured poor girls like my Shannon. And then. Well then…
How did Shannon endure it all? Smiling like sunshine and cheering for the team and high-
fiving the cartoon character that just dropped off the perfect pizza. What stranglehold did the
voice hold over my Shannon to make her perform without flaw during her fifteen to sixty
second bits of fame.
“I’ve got those on my house back in Michigan.” I’d forgotten his name even though he’d
bought us a round at the hotel bar in Sarasota. The ritualistic buying of rounds. The way
travelers disinterested in one another force a connection in order to feel human I suppose.
“Do they work?” I had to say something or else he might not buy another round.
I knew the adjustable blinds worked perfectly. Shannon wouldn’t sell us garbage. Never.
She seemed so elegant too, twisting the thing and making the blinds open and close for us.
I wanted blinds like that. Lots of them. Blinds for every window. And back-up sets just in
“Not too good,” he replied, “to be honest with you. The wife hates them and we had to
replace the set over our kitchen sink.”
Liar! I’d seen Shannon at a kitchen sink. There had been a terrible clog that backed up the
disposal and if Shannon hadn’t come by with that super special drain cleaner who knows what
might have happened. It certainly wasn’t because of the blinds she told us about.
The Sarasota trip went down hill after that. I was supposed to meet with a client but instead
I slipped the cleaning lady a wad of dead presidents to get a couple of extra TV sets hustled up to
my room along with a bottle of the good stuff. Like Shannon and the medicine she took before
she went hiking I too was stronger for it. I was great. I was best. Really best.
I dropped my cell phone and lap top off where ever after I’d been walking a while. I went
walking after I’d driven the rental car dry and it couldn’t go anymore. Mike, my boss, was trying
to call me and that meant he was emailing me too. That was because the client had called and
emailed him. And they emailed and called and called and emailed and emailed and called some
more and the only one that was listening to any of it was the rat in a dumpster behind a barbeque
place with a pig in an apron and chef’s hat out front.
Shannon once wore an apron and chef’s hat. Two months, one week, three days and eleven
hours to the second I’d seen Shannon dressed in an apron and chef’s hat in the only thirty minute
infomercial she’d ever done. She played along while someone pretended to teach a cloister
of young ladies how to make spaghetti in a wok.
I wanted a wok. A wok. And Shannon. On a desolate two-lane road somewhere in Florida. If
I had a wok I could make a fire the way Shannon’s make-believe son did in that one commercial
where she’d sent him off to summer camp and he came back a true woodsman. Then I’d use
what I could find to make her spaghetti because she smiled when spaghetti was made in a wok.
“Hi,” the voice behind me was distant but unmistakable. Shannon! I whipped around hard to
see her, and sure enough, there she was.
So was the voice. And there was no way to escape.