Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Oh, Zap! Guess What I Saw!

For those who have not seen what I believe to be the greatest commercial ever—played during Yankees games between promos for “Kids on Deck” and “The Ultimate Road Trip 2”—here is a quick synopsis:

Edited over scenes of Real Zap Lube Workers In Action, a dark-haired, olive-skinned young woman—somewhere in her low- to mid- 20’s—constantly waves her hands and points in a chopping motion, driving home the Zap Lube mantra of “fast, friendly service.” She is dressed in a tan top, and feverishly opens her hands throughout the advertisement. If you would like to learn the “Girl From the Zap Lube Commercial” motion at home, simply follow these steps:

  1. Lock hands together loosely, with fingers pointing at the opposite walls (as opposed to the ceiling or floor). The fingertips of your left hand should be resting at the knuckles of your right, and vice versa.
  2. Open your hands, pivoting at the wrists.
  3. Say something like, “conveniently located at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen
  4. Repeat four or five times, until the very end, where you karate-chop at the words, “Fast, friendly service.”
  5. Smile somewhat uncomfortably, and freeze.

And this is not an exercise in pointing out bad acting (which I do not think it is), or wondering if the Zap Lube girl is the daughter or niece or girlfriend of anyone associated with Zap Lube. It is more a question of why she hasn’t reached greater prominence. There should be blogs dedicated to her, and poems and Greek tragedies written in her honor. “Ode to the Zap Lube Girl” should be an internet sensation, and a reading of it by Michael Kay should be the most-viewed clip on You Tube. Instead, there is a brief mention of it on a message board that is otherwise—as far as I can tell—dedicated to railing against a popular New Jersey public access psychic who may or may not have stalked a girl with an acne problem, and there is a quick reference to the Zap Lube Girl on a couple myspace profiles.

Not to be outdone, the Mets’ flagship station, SNY, has its own version of the Zap Lube Girl, in the form of the Frank’s Carpet Warehouse Girl. In fact, the two commercials are eerily similar, with a cute, somewhat spunky young woman smiling and talking over moving action shots in the background of the place of business. But the Frank’s Carpet Warehouse Girl just lacks something that the Zap Lube Girl has. It could be the constant gesticulating with the hands, or the honest cadence and exuberance that the Zap Lube Girl offers. It might even be the straight hair. In fact, the argument of Frank’s Carpet Warehouse Girl vs. the Zap Lube Girl may end up representing the microcosm that is the difference between the Mets fan and the Yankees fan. While the Zap Lube girls seems unrehearsed and a touch flighty, she looks like the kind of girl you would like to take out to a nice dinner, and then introduce to your whole family at the wedding of your second cousin, Stephen, exactly four months after your first date. She seems refined, and you constantly want to sleep over at her apartment because her bathroom always smells nice. The Frank’s Carpet Warehouse girl, meanwhile, has a strange dye job, and wavy, somewhat-frizzy hair. You’d meet her at a Mets game, let her drink you under the table at a bar afterwards, and then bring her to your family’s bar-b-q on Long Island the next day, introducing her to everyone as your girlfriend. In either scenario, though, you would probably end up dumping them when you find out they made out with some Wall Street idiot at happy hour the next week.

And let’s be honest… it would be incredibly hard to dump the Zap Lube Girl…or the Frank’s Carpet Warehouse Girl. Not because they are both hot (although they are), but could you imagine watching another Yankees game, and seeing your ex-girlfriend touting the virtues of a place of business that offers both oil changes and a car wash? Or trying to sell you carpet? It would be tough…in fact, it must be tough for their real-life ex-boyfriends to watch a Yankees game, and then have to leave the room every time a Zap Lube commercial comes on, because he cheated on her one night with a pharmaceutical sales rep, never realizing that one day, his shy girlfriend would be wildly waving her arms, urging people to bring their cars to North Bergen.

Whichever way the acting careers of the Zap Lube Girl and the Frank’s Carpet Warehouse girl go, though, there should be a few more posts and websites on the web, concerning their unique place in our society. They are on commercials in between games played in the country’s largest city. You have as much a chance of seeing Chris Woodward or Nick Green in any given broadcast as you would the Zap Lube or the Frank’s Carpet Warehouse Girl. And that, my friends, has to count for something.

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