Ezra Titus

1966 – 2009


Today, I was lying on my bed, staring at the chandelier
and wishing I had someone to gossip with. I’d called Pete, a
big gossip Queen, or King, but he hadn’t been available. I
was trying to think of someone else, prone to bloviate on the
private matters of others, when the phone rang. I thought it
was probably Pete, since I’d left a message, but instead
came an unfamiliar voice, speaking without breaths, so that I
couldn’t hang up before he had made his initial pitch: “Hello
good morning Sir I’m Gerald from International Marketing
and Data Analysis and we’d like to assure you that the
reason we’re calling you today is not to sell anything-We
simply request your participation in answering a few
questions regarding your opinions on products that will soon
be marketed as well as products that already do exist-Do
you engage in exercise of any kind to improve your heart
and cardiovascular health?”

I was delighted. I had someone to talk to, and he
wanted to know about my personal opinions. The only
reason anyone talks to these telephone researchers is that
most Americans adore being quizzed regarding what they
think, and that anyone might be casually interested in their
personal point of view. Hardly anyone is in day-to-day life
here, so if a complete stranger wants to know what you think
of any product, it can feel like your fifteen minutes of fame
has begun.

Gerald asked if I took vitamins, or any prescription
related to my coronary well-being. I did. He then went on to

describe garlic containing dietary supplement that was a
benefit to the heart. He asked me what I thought of naming
the product “Garlisure.” I chose “I disagree, somewhat” as
my response. Gerald asked, “How about ‘Gar-Lice’?”

“Gar-Lice? – That’s horrible,” I said; “It’s even worse
than the first one. If I were in charge, I’d fire the person who
came up with that – Disagree completely.” – Suddenly, I felt
like I was the President of whatever company wanted to
manufacture “Gar-Lice”. I realized that during this call, I was
important, and could be whoever I wanted, so I got
comfortable and began taking in the rest of Gerald’s

“OK,” he continued, “How do you feel about naming the
product ‘Cardio-G’?” I liked the sound of that one. It struck
my ear as being hi-tech, 21st century and confidant. I told
Gerald that one would do well – “Strongly agree.” Finally,
Gerald proposed “Suregar.” “No, that’s witless,” I said, “It
sounds like sugar, but it’s garlic. One would think they’re
trying to pass off garlic as sugar. I would laugh at that
product if I saw it in the store. Ha ha ha.” – Gerald laughed
with me.

Next, Gerald assured me that the following information
would be held in the strictest confidence, and that it would
only be used to group my answers along with others in my
demographic. “Is your total household income income above
$100,000 a year? Between $74,999 and $100,000 a year?
Between $49,999 and..” I interrupted him and

said “Over 4 million.” Lying made me feel more like a high-
powered executive, and I settled deeply into that daydream.
Gerald paused and said, “Well, I can only input more than
$100,000.” I feigned disappointment, sighing, “Only ‘Over
$100,000’? Well, I thought you’d like to make it interesting,
but, over $100,000 – Yes, that’s fine I suppose.” Armed with
that information, Gerald proceeded:

“Were you born before or after 1946?”

“I was born in 1986-ah-I’m 19.” I replied, wishing it were true.
My fortieth birthday was only a month away. I’d planned on
killing myself on the eve of that day in July.

“Well, that’s nice for you. You have the best years of your
life to look forward to.”

“Gerald?” I asked, “You sound to be about my age-are you
under 25” I was actually 40 at the time, and had no job. I
was housesitting for my mother. At least Gerald was a

Gerald told me, off the record, that he was sixty but that Gar-
lice or Gspan had improved his self image.