"Pap smears save lives," as actor Chris Beetem points out in the Christmas-themed version of the new PSAs from CBS Cares, an offshoot of the TV network that uses actors from their programming to educate the public on a variety of topics from child abduction to identity theft.
Sure, pap smears save lives. No argument there. But I can assure you that pap smears don't rate high on most women's holiday wish lists. Let's see ... jewelry, a trip for two to Paris, a cold speculum up your hoo-hah ... nope, I don't think so.
"Give her the gift that even Santa can't deliver," says Beteem. Over in the twin PSA, actor Josh Pais encourages getting a pap "schmear" for Hanukkah: "Just a schmear could save her life," says Pais, calling it "the gift that will light up her menorah."
Remember, fellas, you don't actually perform the gynecological exam yourself. You simply call your beloved's doctor and schedule a surprise appointment for her -- not that women enjoy a surprise that requires sitting around for hours in a too-small paper gown and putting their legs up in stirrups. Also, I don't know how many men just happen to have the name and number of their partner's gynecologist handy. In the end, another scarf-and-mittens set might be easier.
The ads will undoubtedly offend some and amuse others, but there's no getting around the "ick" factor of linking a treasured holiday with one of the most intimate and unsettling medical preventive procedures out there. The CBS Cares site claims the idea occurred while enjoying a meal in a trendy New York Italian restaurant and overhearing a nearby conversation about how not fun the annual pap smear is. Again, the ick factor: You're twirling your fork in a plate of pasta and all you can think about are pap smears?
A more believable influence on these out-of-the-box PSAs is the infamous Justin Timberlake "music video" skit on Saturday Night Live- the censored version is known as "D**k in a Box," in which the boy-band veteran and SNL cast member Andy Samberg sing (and demonstrate) how to show a man's deep, abiding love for his lady at holiday time:
Not gonna get you a house in the hills
A girl like you needs somethin' real
Wanna get you somethin' from the heart
Somethin' special girl ...
A gift real special, so take off the top
Take a look inside it's ...
Well, you'll have to watch the video to know what's inside the box, and how to customize it for any occasion, even Kwanzaa, so no one feels left out.
The pap smear PSAs are onto a good cause, and they're certainly memorable. It's always better to think of health first, material possessions last. Still, think of what this trend bodes for the gift-wrap industry! You can't put a price tag on love, and you can't wrap a doctor's appointment.
Also, think of the implications for the future of holiday gift giving. Last year, CBS Cares ran a series of PSAs where women touted prostate exams for their men. Perhaps next Yuletide, when your special someone has all the flat-screen TVs and luxury gifts that money can buy, you'll finally show just how much you really care by arranging for your beloved's colonoscopy. Don't forget the prep kit!