The following is from Ben Purkert's debut novel The Men Can't Be Saved . Purkert is the author of the poetry collection For the Love of Endings . His work appears in The New Yorker, the Nation, and the Kenyon Review, among others. He is the founder of Back Draft, a Guernica interview series focused on revision and the creative process. He holds degrees from Harvard and New York University, and he currently teaches at Rutgers. I'm tempted to lie, of course. I'm tempted to tell you that I fully anticipated it would go viral. Or at least had an intuition. An inkling that what I'd written was destined for—and surely deserving of— what would follow. In case you don't remember the ad, I'll refresh your memory. A shirtless old guy is holding an ax. And he's walking through a forest, stepping over rocks and ferns, until he arrives at a particular tree. It's not the tallest one around, but there's something about it. He draws close, then touches his hand to the bark like it's the face of a long-lost friend. A tender scene. Romantic, almost. But he's got a job to do. Simple as that. We never actually see chopping. We only see him, with his surprisingly firm pecs and glistening torso, loading his haul into his pickup, then heading home to his adoring wife. When she greets him on the front porch with a flirty smile and an ice-cold beer, he sighs with total contentment. He's truly living the life. And you figure that's it, that's the ad. It's another beer commercial, big deal. But you've been set up. This old guy, with his perfect body and his perfect beverage and his perfect wife, is sitting on a dirty secret: there's a steaming hot dump in his pants. Thankfully, with Smackdale All-Absorb Incontinence Men's Underwear, no need to sweat it. Heavy-duty protection—day in, day out! Go bigger. Go bolder. (Pause.) Everyday Briefs for the Everyday Hero. People initially took it for parody. It was a skit, they figured, not a real ad for a real product. […]
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