The Golden Age of Quackery
As I was boarding a cross-country flight a few years ago, I noticed that the passengers ahead of me were stopping in the first-class cabin to take pictures with a bronzed, Adonis-like figure who obligingly flashed a smile full of perfectly straight and white teeth for every selfie-seeker. Was he a celebrity?
Wearing a tight-fitting t-shirt that accentuated his bulging pectorals and biceps, the man, who was well into his 40s, settled into his seat between snapshots, amber sunglasses propped on the crown of his head, his expression inscrutable, apart from a palpable aura of self-satisfaction. Who was he? The boarding line slowed to a crawl as nearly every other passenger stopped to click pictures with the man or shake his hand.
When my turn came to pass by him in what had become a de facto receiving line, I looked as closely as I politely could at his chiseled face. I figured him for a baseball star, and, as I had been a diehard fan in my youth, I was vexed that I couldn’t recall his face or his name. Had he been first baseman for the Padres in the early 1990s? Or shortstop for the Braves?
The mystery didn’t last long. Once we were at cruising altitude, the people around me began to talk about a convention in the city we had just left. A woman sitting across the aisle from me was showing others around her pictures on her cell phone of a garishly lit stage, flooded with candy-green and neon-pink lights, on which was standing the man now seated in first class. It was a sales and motivational convention promoting a health drink. The people on the plane were speaking as though it had been a religious experience.
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