We’re sending help, Mrs. Fletcher

I don’t know why, but ever since I was a kid, I LOVED the coupon circular that came with the Sunday paper. Since I didn’t grow up in Victorian Europe, I didn’t need to provide for my entire family by working in a sweatshop, so I’m usure why I was so concerned about saving 30 cents on canned peas. I didn’t even like canned peas, but to throw away those coupons, like my parents ALWAYS did when I wasn’t looking, was tantamount to putting American Dollars directly into the trash. In hindsight I don’t think my mom liked or ever bought canned peas in her life.

But still, I leafed through the enitre cicular ever week even though the mail order products that peppered the savings on spray cheeze, deodarant and the like always took me aback. I didn’t know what to make of the fancy check books, cheesy as hell Lennox figurines, and muumuus, but I sure knew that I couldn’t wait to grow up, have a checking account with Snoopy checks, a tchotchke shelf, and weigh 700 pounds so that the muumuu would look appropriate. I’d work that queen size sheet-turned dress while eating my canned peas. To this day, the non-coupon ads still pepper the regular coupons. For instance, in this Sunday’s paper there was this ad for Life Alert:

I remember this terribly famous ad from high school, when it was a commercial. Various senior citizens experience traumatic life threatening calamities, and call Life Alert, an alarm system roughly the size of a phone book, conveniently hung from their neck. The friendly people at the call center drop their doughnuts and idle chatter about last night’s episode of “Herman’s Head” to answer the call. The commercial culminated in Mrs. Fletcher screeching, “I’ve faaaawlen! And I ceaaan’t get up!” and the Life Alert staff sending an ambulance. While we all took this ad seriously at first, its incessant repetition combined with the obnoxious tone of “Mrs. Fletcher” quickly turned into farce.

Our local radio station made a rap song out of it. Children everywhere copied the cry when they were told to get out of bed. The Simpsons parodied it. My high school yearbook superlative category was changed from “laziest” to “least likely to bother saying ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’” (When the winner of that superlative was recently indicted for killing a woman with a baseball bat, the press got their hands on the yearbook, but didn’t understand superlative’s meaning, because they hadn’t grown up in a Life Alert culture.)

Now, if you take a minute to really look at that picture from this week’s Sunday paper, you’ll notice the Life Alert lady is definitely NOT the original Mrs. Fletcher. The original woman has been pushing daisies for the better part of the Bush Jr. administration. However, she lives on in her call to action, which has been officially trademarked (you see it there?) The model seems to be younger and sexier, and I know they did this because sex sells. Even when you’re selling the most unsexy product this side of fake hips, it’s good to throw in a little “come hither” look. And to illustrate my point even further, take one more look at the new Life Alert lady, and then look at this picture of Rebecca Romjin.

I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Birmingham on August 16, 2006 at 5:34 am

    Disturbing!!!…. and yet, alluring. Why if I didn’t know better, Mrs. Fletcher (the younger) is setting off a definite “Mrs. Robinson” vibe.

  2. Posted by Birmingham on August 16, 2006 at 5:42 am


    Major bonus points for the “Herman’s Head” call back. Yeardly Smith was Herman’s co-worker.

  3. Posted by Mermu on August 16, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    Would that be the same Yeardly Smith from the Simpsons and “The Legend of Billy Jean”?

    We cant afford to be innocent
    Stand up and face the enemy
    Its a do or die situation
    We will be invincible!

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