Remember sea-monkeys? Those adorable, underwater creatures one saw advertised in comics with the slogan, ‘So Eager to Please, They Can Even Be Trained’. So cute and humanoid as well – you could actually differentiate the ladies from the men, who naturally had whiskers under their chins.
I saw lots of these adverts when we lived in Hawaii in 1983, probably because I read a lot of comics, and had very few friends (nobody understood what the weird girl from Africa was doing there). But I wanted those sea monkeys badly. I wanted to teach them how to obey commands. I wanted the ‘bowlful of happiness’.
My parents finally relented; perhaps the tropical heat of paradise had dulled their decision-making abilities. Or else, as most children know, incessant nagging is wildly effective. What I received, though, was a squiggle: a tiny and unimpressive floating line. Nobody in their right mind could call that a ‘frolicsome pet’.
Sea-monkeys are actually brine shrimp, a group of crustaceans used as pet food, that were the brain child of Harold von Braunhut, an American mail-order marketer and inventor (including X-ray specs – remember those?). His marketing strategy was simple: bomb the fuckers (that’s us, not the sea monkeys). “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully,” he apparently said.
But if you missed the sea-monkey advert, don’t worry. Because the world is flooded with sea-monkey experiences.
- Facebook: wall-to-wall sea-monkey adverts.
- What is an early infatuation or a crush, but sea-monkey advertorials from him to you and vice versa? A long-term relationship is really just the peeling away of the advert to reveal the underlying sea-monkey – and if you find you’re happy with the floating squiggle, and if you can somehow still see the advert while enduring the squiggle, the relationship might have some legs. (God: so many mixed metaphors, I’ve even confused myself.)
- The novel? It’s the grandest sea-monkey advert ever. Nothing is real: those people don’t exist, those things never happened.
- Donald Trump. Okay, he’s more of a sea-monkey than a sea-monkey advert. Or is he? Maybe he’s the advert again.
They’re all over, sea-monkey adverts. I’m sure you could come up with a lot more examples.