Uncle Al was outdoors the other afternoon for one of the only two reasons he goes outdoors between November and April: Letting his dog, Gus, pull him rapidly down the block. (The other reason he goes outdoors during that period is to get to his truck so he can go somewhere else to be indoors.)
Anyway, on this occasion Gus steamed past a neighbor shoveling snow (again). By way of acknowledgement of Uncle Al’s high-speed passage, the neighbor remarked, “Remind me again why we live in Minnesota.”
Uncle Al has occasionally heard it said that Minnesota’s cycle of cold, snow and tornados “keeps out the riffraff.” But as Uncle Al moved here 48 years ago and didn’t immediately relocate, that can’t be true.
Lest it be unclear from this picture of Uncle Al barreling down the sidewalk behind Gus, he is not an exercise guy. His total fitness package is letting Gus drag him half a mile across the tundra twice a day, and that is hardly by Uncle Al’s choice. Something apparently requires Gus to go a quarter of a mile every morning and evening before he stops to put the plastic newspaper bag to its ultimate use — and then drag Uncle Al the quarter of a mile back home even faster, while visions of dog food dance in his head. (Gus’s head, not Uncle Al’s.)
It thus shouldn’t be surprising that Uncle Al pays little attention to Gatorade or other exercise or energy drinks. Uncle Al’s only activity in that direction is his 30-plus-year habit of starting each day with a double espresso. And he saturates that with so much cream and sugar that it’s more a dessert than a drink.
Uncle Al is startled
So when he encountered an ad for Gatorade the other day, he was somewhat startled. The last time he paid any real attention to Gatorade, it came in a bewildering array of flavors including Midnight Thunder and Riptide Rush. Now, apparently, all that is gone, and Gatorade is available instead in variants of Gatorade 01 (or Prime); Gatorade 02 (or Perform), and Gatorade 03 (or Recover).
Uncle Al thinks Perform and Recover may be the first food products whose names are verbs (and he assumes that Prime, which he first thought was a synonym for “excellent,” is instead the verb meaning “to prepare”).
Indeed, the ad furnishes the information that Prime is “pre-game fuel;” Perform (original or low-calorie) is intended to “hydrate and replenish during athletic performance” and Recover is “for post-game muscle recovery.”
Having noted that he is not an exercise guy, Uncle Al realizes that that doesn’t absolutely establish that he is not an athletic guy either. He isn’t. There are at least some folks who don’t do exercise for its own sake but do participate in athletics. Uncle Al is not one of them.
In fact, Uncle Al is, if anything, an anti-athletic guy, having been firmly established on that path in grade school, when he was always the last one picked for compulsory playground baseball, the unlucky team’s leader inevitably sighing: “We’ll take Sicky.”
He always was installed in the generally harmless right-field position, where he lived in fear of the occasional left-handed kid who might hit one his way, because not only couldn’t he catch, once he picked up the ball he hadn’t caught, he couldn’t throw it hard enough to reach anybody in the infield. He had to run after the ball, pick it up and throw it again — and sometimes run after it, pick it up and throw it again!
So if Gatorade were designing Prime, Perform and Recover to appeal to Uncle Al, they would instead be named, respectively, Dread, Suffer and Apologize.
And if there were three verbal products designed for Gus, they would be Run, Poop and Eat. (Eat would be his favorite.)