March 1998
s m u g
target audience
by Leslie Harpold


i am not into thati can't be like mike

Dear Nike -

Oh, you knew it was only a matter of time before someone said this. I can't.

I can't take it anymore. I confess already that I shed more than one tear when the ad with all the statistics about girls who play sports having higher self esteem and being less likely to be abused came on TV. Every time, as a matter of fact. I finally spent some time searching my heart though, and I figured out that it was more than your powerful presentation that moved me to tears. It was the fact that those statistics were poignant at all that was really choking me up. You cleverly built a bridge between shoe ownership and self esteem and I trudged willingly across it.

Now that you have your new "I can" campaign, though, you're not quite as good at plucking my heart strings. As a matter of fact - I can address much of this point by point:

I can have impossible goals.

No, I can't. Why do you want to set me up for certain failure? I'm too tall for ballet and too young for the senate, and even if I wasn't - a running shoe wouldn't help me there. I've always thought it might be nice to be on the cover of MIGHT magazine, but it doesn't exist anymore. So, you're setting me up for ridicule. I don't appreciate it.

I can master pain.

What do you think I'm into?

I can endure

Well, I'll give you that one.

I can be the next Jordan

I'd have to marry someone named Jordan to do that, so I suppose it's possible. If you mean the Jordan, though, as in Michael Jordan, didn't that part piss him off? I mean, he's still going strong and you're already encouraging me, a woman, (coincidentally, women aren't allowed in the ABA) to replace him. Is there something wrong with him I don't know about? File this one under "impossible goals."

I can celebrate without rioting.

Bzzzt. I'm from Detroit. Next!

I can make you remember me.

Okay, I probably could do that, but likely I'd have to do something embarrassing and ridiculous to accomplish that. I mean, I've been writing and publishing a magazine for over a year now and I still have to stand in line at the grocery store and show ID when I write checks. So much for my fame.

I can make you respect me.

The closest i can come to forcing someone to respect me is to make them afraid of me. Oh, it may look like respect on the surface, but we all know it's just fear. I'm midwestern, at my core, and I like being nice. I don't want people afraid of me, I work in a service business for the love of Mike®. If people are afraid of me, I'll never make any money or any friends. How much fun is that? I'm not exactly the "lone wolf" type, that's Jack's department.

I can give more than just sweat.

Which implies I have extremely bad taste in gifts. I'll have you know the gifts I give are incredibly tasteful. Sweat free, all of them.

I can be afraid.

Wait, you're not going to respect me if I'm afraid. I'm fearless, at least as far as you know. If you're trying to normalize, encounter group style, my fear of clowns though, thank you. They're creepy, aren't they?

I can be afraid of nothing.

Except clowns, we covered that. Hey, you're contradicting yourself here. Choose or lose, sunshine, this is already getting tedious.

I can hang on, win gloriously, lose gloriously.

Hey, you're infringing on my right to pout in private! Isn't that protected by the constitution or something? In public, I'm a great winner, but I'd be lying if I didn't occasionally pout at home when it's dark and I'm sure the neighbors can't make out my lower lip jutting out, ever so slightly or that my blue eyes have turned the faintest shade of green.

I know I can.

I can't be the only one who sees the little engine that could here. That cute little red yellow and blue train engine with the smiley face? That makes me want 'Nilla Wafers and chocolate milk, you know? Like when I was a little girl and mommy - oh, I'm sorry, I got lost in a really nice childhood memory there. What was it you were selling again"? Go ahead, try again, hit me with your best shot. Just do it.

Love and Kisses,

write to


in the junk drawer:

and such
and such

i can't do 2 things at once

i can't lift this barbell

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