How was it, I wondered, that I was regretting the loss of someone who drove me crazy hawking products I couldn’t care less about. Every time I turned on the TV there he was, with a mega-grin on his face and a beard so black it looked like he’d just been bobbing for apples in a tub of tar.
Sure, Billy was a pitchman who made a fortune peddling OxiClean, Kaboom tub and tile cleaner, the Samurai Shark knife sharpener, the Turbo Tiger vacuum cleaner and such, none of which could be bought in stores, if we believed Billy. But I realize now that his exuberance, if not his products, made me feel good. I’d drift to sleep with his voice bubbling in the background, secure in the knowledge that capitalism was alive and well in America, something I seldom felt while dozing off on politicians or economic pundits.
Billy was actually offering something not found in any store—his unbridled enthusiasm. Billy is a reminder of just what we need in these cloudy economic times, a reminder that determination can often win out over talent. To my knowledge Billy never sang or danced, held political office or shared his spiritual views. But by the time he left this world he’d definitely left his mark, a mark that could probably be removed with elbow grease…and of course OxiClean.