Truth in Asterisking

     Browsers viewing a two-page spread in the December issues of Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and other periodicals will likely be drawn to the sleek lines of a luxury automobile and the attractive, well-dressed couple standing near glass doors where a party is taking place. They might even be attracted to the words ARRIVE FASHIONABLY in bold print and the features of the car summarized in vivid white lettering against the background of a night sky. However, a thorough examination of the small print at the bottom of the advertisement, which explains the meaning of the tiny superscripts nicely hidden in the stark text above, takes a little sparkle off of the sport sedan’s allure.

Readers with good vision soon learn that “the performance tires are expected to experience greater tire wear than conventional tires. Tire life may be substantially less than 15,000 miles…High-friction brakes require periodic inspection and measurement…The pads and rotors are expected to experience greater wear than conventional brakes. Pad life may be less than 20,000 miles and brake rotor life may be less than 50,000 miles.” Some luster vanishes from the party lights when potential buyers realize they will likely have to buy a new set of tires every twelve months and plan on brake replacements at least every other year.

It might be a good idea if we consider the caveats that are conveniently dropped down to the bottom of labels and pages in five-point type. Let’s go way down to get the lowdown.

Brighty* shirts—*Colors are likely to bleed like turkey necks six weeks before Thanksgiving.

High-Octane* coffee—*Amounts of caffeine present can be expected to bring on the heebie jeebies.

Extra-Virgin* bottled water—*Contents can be expected to be no more free from contaminants than baby slobber.

Dead End* table—*Reclaimed particleboard under ultra-thin veneer may not support any beverage exceeding 12 ounces.

It’s a Breeze* jacket—*Air dry feature which allows wetness to dissipate quickly may also allow wind to chill the bones like an ice cube dropped down the back.

Spread Out* carpet cleaner—*Users are expected to experience more difficulty removing stains with this fabric. Hair removed from head in frustration can be dyed to cover affected areas.

Very Clear* asphalt sealer—*Cracking, peeling, and fading is likely to occur if sealer is driven on by vehicles with wheels. Longer life can be expected if appliers of this product stay off treated area for six-to-ten weeks.

Here Today* cell phone—*Obsolescence of this device can be expected moments after phone agreement is signed.

Takeout or Beat It Here* storage shed—*Comprehending the directions for this structure manufactured in China can be expected to take longer for anyone not named Chen or Wong.

Ready Wetty* paper towels—*Shredding of product can be expected at first contact with moisture.

Gore Monsters Galore*—*Zombies and vampires replicated in this novel may be no more frightening or credible than any other fodder contrived to capitalize on a fad.

Will-o’-the-Wisp* charcoal—*Lit coals can be expected to go out when subjected to the mildest zephyr or strongest imprecation.

Beat It Good* washer—*Agitator on this model may aerate clothing left in the tub longer than four minutes.

What’s Hot Now* dryer—*Lint trap can be expected to ignite at temperatures below 451°. Convenient handle on trap makes it easy to transfer flame to grill loaded with our Will-o’-the-Wisp charcoal.

Pampered Pine* nursery—*Tree may not survive if planted outdoors.

Blimpo* pizza box—*Consumers of this product can be expected to blame it for their gluttony and/or obesity.

Fortunately, in this world of subterfuge and evasion, my steady readers know that I can always be counted to present the unvarnished truth.*

*This claim does not pertain to any words written by this author.


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