My daughter just posed an exciting and important question to me. If you saw the Quaker Oats Man, out of context would you recognize him on the street? I’ve taken the past few minutes to ponder her query. My daughter is, after all, going to be a doctor, so she must be taken quite seriously. For these past few moments I’ve imagine the Quaker Oat Man dressed in a flannel shirt, old Levis and hiking boots, with his hair pulled back in a low ponytail like any of the other aging hippies in my town. In this scene I’ve decided that I probably wouldn’t recognize him.
My daughter pictures him wearing the thick glasses of a pedophile, wearing brown corduroys and a green button down shirt. I remind her that corduroys might not be the best choice for a pedophile who might want to sneak up on his prey. She reminds me that pedophiles groom their victims, they don’t sneak. She’s really smart. I’d want her as my physician.
Then I pictured the Oat Man in a well-tailored suit, his gray hair in a discreet braid, a briefcase in his hand, standing in front of our town’s courthouse. I’m certain that if I passed him on my way to the Chinese restaurant beside of that courthouse that I would think he was just another lawyer. No recognition.
My daughter then notices Oat Man’s gender flexibility. Would I notice him dressed similar to Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith show? I imagine a house dress peppered with tiny flowers, with the Oat Man’s hair in a neat bun. He/She’s bringing Otis the drunk a perfectly balanced lunch at the town jail. I decide I would recognize him as an Aunt Bea imposter, but that his identity as the Quaker Oats Guy wouldn’t cross my mind. My daughter agrees with me on this one. I take this to mean that I am nearly as smart as a future doctor.
It is times like these that I wish I could afford Photo Shop. Then I could see what Oat Guy would look like in a Speedo, a turban, or a nurse’s uniform from the 1940s. Perhaps if I took the time to create pictures of The Quaker Oats Guy in as many scenarios as possible, then I would be ready for that fateful moment when our paths cross. I could point to him and call him a time traveling imposter. I could warn people of his ruse, potentially saving humanity from an anachronism whose mission is to force oat products on one and all. My daughter points out that, though my intentions are noble, this would be a great waste of my time on a potentially fictional character. She also reminds me of the health benefits of whole grains, including oats. Yep, she’s doctor material.