I get anxious scrolling through dodgy news stories, so I clicked on this innocent headline:
“Florida Man Shocked By Something He Never Thought He’d See In His Backyard”
The story began: Seventy-three-year-old Florida resident Josiah Rustie found something he can’t remember ever seeing out back before. And now he can’t forget it.
Bang. A boxed pop-up headline interrupted: “Secret Natural Product Helps Some Floridians Remember Crucial Life Details.” Video showed flashing full-sized brain connected to a wiggling intestine while a robotic voice-over boomed: “What about you? Are you having problems remembering?” It urged me to try AvaBrain, a Florida avocado memory suppository that zooms up your brain canal quicker than ordinary oral memory capsules drop down from the top. If I ordered now, I’d get two for the price of one plus a set of avocado knives with handles shaped like Florida. Ad ended with Florida Tourism logo and a jingle: ”Savoring the Sunshine State.”
Wow. Up the brain canal? Can’t remember that body part from biology class but I guess that’s why I need AvaBrain. I resisted the urge to order a dose.
A pop-up framed in red followed: “23 Chess Masters Use Florida Avocados To Boost Memory” Video showed beachside chess players snacking on guacamole and chips while thoughtfully moving pawns shaped like avocados. High-speed narrator warned about avocado side effects including green tint to skin, blockages in the brain canal, addiction to salad, and premature death.
I scrolled back to the original story.
….Rustie had just gotten out of bed and was preparing to take a morning shower when he heard his dog barking at an intruder in a backyard tree. Rustie ran into the yard wearing only a tattered bath towel.
Uh-oh. Boxed pop-up headline: “Successful People Never Throw Out That Old Bath Towel” New video showed some woman named Kardashian flashing a vulpine smile as she walked through a tropical back yard holding a towel to cover miniscule bikini outfit. Amazing strategic use of tiny bits of cloth.
But I lingered too long and got slammed by another pop-up in flashing gold frame.
“The 10 Most Revealing Florida Bikini Styles in 2020.” Best to keep up with the latest in beachwear. By the eighth bikini, I was bored. Declined survey about Florida avocado suppositories and bikinis and tried unsuccessfully to erase browser history. Tourism logo and jingle again.
Kept scrolling. Finally found Rustie saga again.
….. Josiah Rustie is not a man easily shocked. When he saw it perched on a branch in his avocado tree, he called the Florida Animal Control. He told authorities he remembered staring up through the avocado leaves at the intense Florida sun as he set up his ladder.
New boxed headline: “Floridians Battle Sun’s Rays With Natural Organic Sunblock” Video showed volleyball players slathering their shoulders with guacamole before batting animated avocado back and forth over the net. Swimmers in bikinis standing in the surf rubbed fresh cut avocados on each other’s backs. Surfer in avocado costume rode shore break waves on green surfboard. Florida Tourism signoff with annoying jingle. Tried to erase browser again. No luck.
Scrolled down to my continuing story
…. Rustie’s wife, Arabella, ran out to steady his ladder. “Remember to come down for breakfast, my love,” she recalled saying. “We’re having toast and your favorite memory-boosting Florida avocado spread.”
Pop-up interrupts: “Successful People Eat Memory-boosting Breakfasts.” The Kardashian woman again, only now she and friends in bikinis are sitting poolside at a breakfast table in Miami Beach. She gobbled down fresh avocado toast. Doctor with thin face and bushy black mustache wearing lab coat is standing in an office. Speaking in mangled French accent, he recited benefits of eating avocados in a French Toast sandwich.
Tourism logo and jingle played before segue to new headline: “Florida Stove Jockey Reveals Natural French Toast Spread” Video shows woman in chef’s hat and tiny bikini at the beach smushing avocados onto French Toast for a sandwich. Licks guacamole from fingertips, then does promo for her new Avacado cookbook before taking generous bite and smiling. Still cannot erase browser history. Can’t imagine there are any avocados or bikinis left in Florida that I haven’t seen.
Finally erased browser, then scrolled to the story about the guy in the backyard.
…. Rustie, wearing only his towel, shrugged as the animal rescue person, reeking of avocados, climbed around him and managed to snare it. She jumped from the tree, packed up her net and tipped her cap saying, “Well, I’m off to the Humane Society with this. This is one I’ll never forget.”
Bang. Boxed pop-up with blinking red full-screen question showing worker in animal control officer’s uniform. Narrator asks: “Did she really say she’ll never forget? Maybe she uses AvaBrain suppositories.” Video showed a gloved health care worker in white lab coat carefully sliding avocado pit into orange juice carton. She looks at camera and says: “AvaBrain worked for me. It’s from Florida.” Florida logo and grating jingle.
So, I was convinced. Did the order. Soon, I’ll be sitting pretty while my AvaBrain dose shoots up the old brain canal. Can’t wait to make a salad with my set of avocado knives. And yes, serve that with French Toast. By the way, I never did find what Rustie saw the tree.
John Hewitt is a California writer amazed at the wealth of story ideas that flow from Florida. His latest novel is Freezer Burn, the story of a nearly dead ferret who becomes a star.