Review: “Endless Streetcar Ride into the Night and the Tinfoil Noose” American humorist, radio and TV personality, Jean Shepherd is probably best known for his feature film; The Christmas Story. In Shepherd’s “The Endless Streetcar Ride into the Night and the Tinfoil Noose,” he uses hyperbole and contrast to build a memorable experience with the reader, one that many of us have experienced; a blind date. Shepherd’s essay highlights the false promises of the media and its influence over our lives.
He portrays himself as a sophisticated, mature young man at the age of fourteen with a refined taste for things in life, the copied image of an “official” that the media thrusts upon us. When this image is shattered, young Shepherd starts to realize that success can differ from reality. Being the “official” that he believes himself to be, when Shepherd’s best friend Schwartz approaches him about a blind double date, with the insinuation of some “hanky-panky”, and believing he is helping some “no doubt skinny, pimply girl,” Shepherd agrees to the situation out of “human charity. Much of the hyperbole in Shepherd’s story comes from his descriptive narration of a 14 year old boy getting ready for his blind date and the date itself. Excessively wide shoulder pads in his sports coat with a length that almost reached his knees, pants pulled up high enough to chafe his armpits, and a tie with a giant red snail hand-painted on, are some of the details he sets up for us.
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Shepherd’s essay continues and the scene is painted like something out of a Gone with the Wind movie, as his date transcends a massive staircase making her grand entrance with her beauty to be awed by the audience. During the streetcar ride, Shepherd tries to follow in Schwartz’s steps as Schwartz and his date are locked so profusely together making out that they are nearly “indistinguishable” from one another. To his dismay, Shepherd’s date refuses his advances.
Suddenly the most inanimate objects, the very ones Shepherd dressed himself in to become one of the “officials,” have come to life to point out every flaw as he slowly starts to realize that HE is the blind date… just another average Joe. While the media continues to thrust upon us the look of what is to be considered an “official” in terms of success, we must ask ourselves to scrutinize the promises and marketing laid out before us, unless we end up as sheep in wolf’s clothing.