Nancy Roman

How Much

When I was a kid, I used to play this game when I watched TV. Sometimes I played with my sisters, but mostly I just played it alone.

The game was: How Much.

How Much was played during commercials. Bad commercials.

Example: A commercial with a woman with huge armpit stains. She gets in an elevator, and the other folks crinkle up their noses in the the look that says Peee-Yoo.

So – How much money would it take for you to play the part of the B.O. Lady in the commercial? Knowing all your friends will see it (and your enemies) and will tease you for the period known as Forever.

Now, this was back in the early sixties, and I was a kid, and money was different, so basically the game was

A) $10
B) $100
C) Not For Any Money.

I figured I would be the B.O. Lady for $100.

I’d be the extreme dandruff lady or have the heartbreak of psoriasis for only $10, though. Because in those commercials, the victims get cured and a boyfriend too.

But no money in the world (or a boyfriend at the end) would get me in a diarrhea commercial.

I still play this game during really bad commercials. But my financial requirements have gone way up. It’s:

A) Ten Thousand Dollars
B) One Million Dollars
C) Not For Any Money.

But the interesting thing is – my threshold for humiliation is much higher – meaning I would be willing to play almost any role for $10,000. I could be constipated or phlegmy or have bad breath or even bad children for a decent paycheck. Embarrassed? As Liberace used to say about the ridicule he endured – “I cry all the way to the bank.”

And the reason is simple. I can separate myself from a character in a commercial. My self-esteem is not based on what others see. Adult diapers? No problem.

What is a problem, however, is what I promote. Not For Any Money is my answer to products that are dangerous or politicians or causes that I would never support.

And the How Much game came in handy several years ago. A headhunter called me with a very lucrative offer to work for a big tobacco company.

Adult diapers and stool softeners can actually help people. Tobacco cannot.

Money is nice. Money is necessary. But Ethics are also necessary.

Although the benefits (or at least lack of harm) for lots of products can be debated, endorsing an idea or person is a much more substantial question for me. How Much is enough to even appear to lend support to policies that would hurt someone or limit someone’s rights? That espouse Hate?

Of course, I have the luxury of being in a position to say no.

If I were starving, would I endorse a product or person or idea I hated? Maybe.

I hope not.

Once in a while, I still ask myself,

How Much?


  1. Chris


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    Nice Post


  3. I have played the same type of game when I was younger


  4. cj

    I’m in a position with my current job that could likely gear me toward work in the oil & gas industry… It seems like a grey area to work for an oil company because, the people I know who work there are good people, it provides a good livelihood for many, and in the end, we still depend on oil and gas to live (our heating, cooking, transport etc.) But in the end, all the harm that comes to the world owing to the unethical decisions of a few at the top (seeing the movie Vice woke me up to it a bit more), and I just decided I couldn’t do it in the end. No judgement on anyone who does, but I hope the world is equipped and able to rely on other forms of (renewable) energy in the future, before it’s too late to change.


  5. I played this too and good to think about as turn into adults for other reasons


  6. This is really important; we should all consider what we are giving up each time we compromise our standards.


  7. When I started reading this I was thinking “adult diapers.” But you’re right–it’s a job, and it’s called “acting.” A lot of people think “Flo” in the Progressive commercials is really annoying, but talk about residuals! She’s probably one of the highest paid actors in the business. (And I actually think she’s pretty funny.)


  8. You’re right, even when we become adults, there are still situations that force us to ask, “how much?” And sometimes, there just isn’t enough money in the world to make us say yes.


  9. Sometimes it’s not policies, products or causes that are the problem, but people themselves. I played a version of “How Much?” when I left a job in a non-profit that I had loved for almost 10 years. Why? Because a new Executive Director was hired whose ethics and values were so far removed from mine, it got to the point where “not for any money” could I stay. She lied, criticized members of her staff to other members of the team, wasn’t accountable – you get the picture. So I resigned. If I had waited a few more months until she was let go, I might still be there, but I just couldn’t do it. So now I work for another, fantastic non-profit that helps people with cancer. I work fewer days, for less money but I am so much happier!


  10. My husband was offered a ridiculous offer to head the legal department for a tobacco company. 😳. Nope. He tried to pretend he was considering it, but couldn’t keep a straight face.


  11. Your post reminded me of an episode of Big Bang Theory where Penny does a commercial for Hemorrhoid cream… I suppose it depends on what you’re willing to associate with depending on your own moral thoughts and values. Really interesting post!


  12. This brings to mind the movie “Indecent Proposal” with Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Michael Douglas. Douglas offers Woody a million dollars to sleep with his wife (Demi Moore). I don’t think there is anyone in the world who saw that movie that didn’t debate in their heads the pros & cons. We all like to think we would take the moral high ground…but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about money for a change?


  13. Wow! I can’t believe I did that. It was Robert Redford, not Michael Douglas in that movie. I got my memories crossed. 😉


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