What Are You Reading? Part 6

by John Shankman

Over the next week for a sponsored project on behalf of Byliner, The Billfold’s Mike Dang and our publisher John Shankman will be selecting stories from the Byliner platform and chatting about them.


John: Yoooo Mike!
How goes it?

Mike: Hey John — I’m good, how are you?

John: I’m great. Looking for some quality reads, per usual.

Mike: Haha, well I got one for you!

John: My man.
Always on point
Is it a Byliner original?

Mike: This one is actually a Byliner exclusive by Meghan Daum who wrote an essay called “Memoirs of a Commercial Girlhood” in 1996 for The Bellingham Review.
You’d be into this one!
It’s about advertising.
Or rather, about being a part of an advertising family.
(John, you are my advertising family.)

John: lol
I take that as a high compliment.
What do we have if we do not have advertising families?
Is Meghan herself in advertising?

Mike: She is not, but her father wrote songs for commercials when she was a kid.
And her brother starred in those commercials sometimes.

John: spicy
sounds like a fun house
or perhaps not if megs wasn’t down with not being included

Mike: Well, she auditioned, and apparently wasn’t as good as her brother, so there were some sibling grudges held. Her father wrote songs for brands like RC Cola and Lean Cuisine. I was curious, so I looked up some jingles.

I mean, this one is kind of incredible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm_LmlFeNnM

People don’t write those kinds of songs anymore for commercials! The story reminded me of one of my favorite songs for a commercial when I was a kid which was … can you guess?

John: I’m gonna have to go with MIKEY LIKES IT

Mike: Omg, John

forgot about this
so good

Mike: Obviously, I love that song because MIKE IS MY NAME.
But that song is also so good
And I grew up in the Jordan era I guess
So that’s what you basically just did, John.

John: its a cheery tune
of an era for sure

Mike: So the story brought back all those memories! Which made me appreciate it more.

Meghan also writes about our emotional involvement in advertising — how some commercials can make you cry. Which reminded me of ones that have made me cry too
This essay really conjured up some stuff

John: i like it.
im still trying to piece together the sort of narrative it is
is it a personal essay
recollecting her childhood?

Mike: Yes, specifically about her father and advertising, and how so much of her childhood was spent around advertising and advertisers.

John: Did she remember that fondly?

Mike: I’d say it’s bittersweet.

John: My kids will be wearing branded infant clothes so the family can earn revenue when we post photos to social networks.

Mike: I mean, if celebrities can sell their baby photos surely you can sell advertising on your kid’s onesie.

John: Fair enough, I’ve reconsidered though. I’m not gonna sell my kid out though…until their 8
if you could only take one piece of wisdom away from Meghan’s story, what would it be?

Mike: I guess it’d be that advertising leaves a huge impression on you, whether or not you actually believe that. BRB, going to listen to “Like Mike” again.

Interested in reading more? Byliner has thousands of great fiction and nonfiction stories. Check it out here.