Full of western promise

I've just spent a few weeks in California, and I have many unforgettable memories of that magnificent state.

Those great freeways leading on forever into the distance, the awe-inspiring giant redwoods, the soaring cliffs of Yosemite Valley, the dynamism and vision of the Golden Gate and, perhaps most memorable of all, the American obsession with erectile dysfunction. 

The yanks seem to think of very little else. Baseball, Disneyland, fast food, Hollywood, John Wayne, all of those icons dwindle before the big issue. Even the right to bear arms, it seems, palls into insignificance against the right to bear a good stiffy. That's the American Dream for you, the Founding Fathers would be so proud.

In the US, drug companies can advertise directly to patients, so the ads are everywhere, and especially on TV.

'Are you having trouble with intimacy issues?' the ads ask, rather coyly. They usually feature a handsome dude, grey-templed, late-to-middle age but growing old rather obscenely gracefully, and a nubile woman who, let's be honest, looks young enough to be his daughter. The lucky couple are typically out having a romantic dinner, or walking along a sandy beach gazing into each other's eyes and looking at the sunset, as if the last thing on their minds was getting a bit of nookie.

For some strange reason, the ads never show really old folks getting down and dirty in the back seat of a beat-up Chevy or having their tyres rotated in a grotty motel; with Viagra and its buddies, there is no sweat involved.

It's not just ED, of course. Statins, anti-depressants, antihistamines, hypnotics and the rest all get their plug, and all the ads end with the encouraging advice 'Ask your qualified health provider for more details'.

The unspoken addendum is: 'And if he won't prescribe this miraculous drug, it shows that he just doesn't care, so feel free to blow him away with your Colt 45, which apropos of nothing is now available at a specially reduced price at the Quickie-Mart near you'.

Another beauty, shortly to hit these shores, I'll bet, is 'Band-Aid with ANTIBIOTIC!' which apparently heals cuts and bruises in an amazingly brief time; little golden-haired gap-toothed adorable American children, you see, are not allowed to suffer any pain.

What antibiotic they are using and what problems they'll run into with sensitivity was not explored.

At least when the inevitable increase in antibiotic resistance occurs, they won't be able to blame us any more.

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