This is Day 2 of a 21-day series. For more scoop on the who/what/why, go here.
Many moons, much heartache and tens of thousands of annual dollars-per-year ago, I was a thriving ad hole. Or “ad ho,” if you like. Or television copywriter, if you roll Mad Men-style.
I wrote ads for automobiles! I wrote ads for beer! I wrote ads for clothing stores, deodorant and artificially-colored-and-sweetened gelatin desserts! I wrote ads for pretty much whatever anyone told me to write, because the only two things I swore I’d never write an ad for, feminine hygiene sprays and cigarettes, no one ever asked me to. Pity, there was nothing I wanted more in those days than to really tell someone where they could go.
You see, I used to be an angry, angry person. I still am, only I’m a bit less so and far more aware of it. (Hint: if you’re a ladyperson, and you’re either not crying at all or crying a lot, you’re probably angry.) There is plenty for most of us to be angry about, just like there’s plenty for us to be grateful for.
But I digress.
By 1992, I’d left my full-time job and relocated to Los Angeles with my ex-husband to pursue careers in stuff that never actually materialized (it’s okay, better things did). It was weird and hard and exhilarating and awesome all at once, or all at once and then bit by bit, when I realized that not only could I travel back and forth from L.A. to Chicago to freelance, but that I’d have to, as no one would hire my ass in L.A. (no print experience) and that fat wad of cash you move with never does sustain you as long as you’d hoped it would. Also, I was pretty much unemployable at anything else. Also-also, my mother was dying of cancer and I felt like I’d better do what I could while I could to wrap things up with her. Those are stories for another day, and we will tell them.
For now, here is what you need to know: I wrote one of the most kick-ass campaigns of my 10-odd years in advertising for Wheaties, back when Michael Jordan was their spokesjock. I’d worked on Gatorade for FOUR ENTIRE YEARS already, but MJ got signed just as I flipped the final bird to my last full-time gig. Besides, I was so burnt-crispy, I couldn’t have come up with a decent ad then if you paid me. (Pause for ironic laughter.)
I wrote this campaign and my partner did her usual stellar job at art-directing and our agency producer did his usual stellar job of producing and our director did his usual stellar job of directing and all in all, it was one of those magical projects where everything goes right from beginning to end, except for one thing: Michael Jordan did not want to be anywhere near me. My proof? Behold:
Michael Jordan is LEANING AWAY from me. And frankly, if I could have leaned away from me, I would have, too. I mean, Jesus H. Jumping Christ on a Pogo Stick: look at me! If there is one thing it was in my power to do to make myself more unattractive, I’m at a loss as to what it might be. And trust me, the clothes are just an externalization of the incredibly angry mess I was inside. I had an almost pathological need during those years to be an iconoclast, to be noticed, to defy everyone and everything.
Well. No matter. Because even though Michael Jordan didn’t particularly like me, I liked him fine, and don’t blame him one bit. He did a fantastic job acting in those commercials I wrote. He was a consummate professional and unflaggingly polite.
And yeah, like everyone else in this picture, he signed a bona-fide Wilson basketball and gave it to me at the end of the shoot. Okay, had a minion give it to me. It’s mine, though, all mine.
It can be yours, if it is a thing you have always dreamed of. It has been maintained in mint condition, or very near to, in the cozy confines of an unused clear acrylic terrarium in the shape of a globe.1 People were allowed to touch it, but mostly, just to look.
One caveat: there is no authentication for this basketball other than my story and this photo (which, hey, you know, Photoshop) and the corroboration of any person you might be able to corral from the shoot. In other words, it may require extra diligence on your part to turn this into an investment item. But it is, nonetheless, the genuine item.
Leave a comment or shoot my ‘tater an email (miz.tater AT gmail DOT com) if you’re interested. First come, first served.