I hate teasers. But even as I write that I realize that my very title is something of a teaser. What does he mean, you’re probably asking yourself. In fact, if this newspaper really wanted you to read my piece, they’d probably put something on the front page saying, “What makes Mark Sherman really crazy?”

Like so many words in our difficult language, “teaser,” like “crazy,” has several meanings. Though I already knew this, I checked the dictionary to see if there were any of which I wasn’t aware. One, I knew, was a person or thing that teases, which, of course, begs the question, since then you have to look up the verb “tease,” which I did; and amazingly, I didn’t find the meaning I was most familiar with as a youth. To me, once upon a time, to tease meant to appear to promise something that was not forthcoming. In deference to my younger readers, I will not spell this out further.

The first definition of “tease” in dictionary.com is this: “to irritate or provoke with persistent petty distractions, trifling raillery, or other annoyance, often in sport.”


What? What about “to make you think you’re going to get something which you clearly are not going to get”? This I remember from my younger days. I don’t remember any raillery at all, whether trifling or significant.

But none of this has to do with the meaning of “teaser” that I want to talk about, namely things like coming attractions in a movie theater, or, more commonly, the line in a newspaper or on a website which hints at something you just have to know. AOL does this all the time, and I hate it. For example, here are a couple of teasers from the AOL home page this morning.

One shows a large photo of a boy, and underneath it says, “Do You Know Who His Celeb Dad Is?” Well, duh, of course I don’t. And I’m busy. Can’t it simply say, “His dad is [famous name]”? But no, it won’t just tell you. To tease you even more, it says, “We’ll give you a hint: this 13-year-old’s father is an athlete and it’s very clear where he gets his good looks from.”

Well, now I’m hooked. Is his dad the soccer star David Beckham? I barely know what Beckham looks like, and I don’t know if he has a son, but I know he’s very good-looking. I can’t stand it. I’m going to have to find out.

But wait, there’s more. To find out, I have to click on the link which says, “nine kids and their famous fathers.” Oh, no, if I click on that I can be teased eight more times.

I can’t stand not knowing. I’ve got to look.

I did, and I was right! It’s Brooklyn Beckham (that’s right, Brooklyn), the son of David Beckham and his wife, the glamorous Victoria Beckham, aka Posh. Yes, it’s Brooklyn, son of Posh. (Do they possibly have a daughter named Queens?)

I’m so glad I looked. I feel so great about guessing right. But, darn it, I am not going to check out the other eight kids! My OCD cries out for me to do so, but I am going to resist.

However, the teaser that really got to me on AOL’s home page today was this one: “Common fear that ruins sleep.”

Not fair! Falling asleep is so tricky that to start with that finding out a common fear that ruins sleep could put me over the edge into insomnia. What could it be, I ask myself? Fear of not waking up? Look, if you don’t have that one, where were you when other kids were reciting their “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers at night, with that comforting line, “And if I die before I wake”?

What could it be?

This is just great. I have work to do. I have errands to run. I have people to call. But it it will bother me all day if I don’t open up that link.

I suppose I could wait until it’s off the home page, and see if I can find it another time, But suppose I can’t? Ah, the tease is probably something silly, like fear of your home being broken into (yipe!) or fear of your spouse leaving you in the night and running off with David Beckham or Posh.

Well, I waited a while, and now that teaser is no longer on the AOL home page. Will I never know “a common fear that ruins sleep”? Will wondering about what it might be keep me from falling asleep tonight?

Teasers are everywhere. I just happened to turn on the TV a few minutes ago, and for an upcoming local news show I heard this: “Learn how you can buy a hundred dollars worth of groceries for only six dollars!”

You know, the teasers I ran into back when I was a young guy drove me pretty crazy, but they were few and far between. These teasers are everywhere.

…Now it’s a day after I started this piece, and I can’t find that thing about sleep. So let’s see what’s on the AOL home page today. Ah, here’s a good one: “Postal Service Chief Offers Dire Warning.”

Listen: Warn this!

(By the way, for those of you still wondering about the sleep thing, my Google searching ultimately revealed that the story probably concerned a Canadian research study finding that many people have a fear of the dark. Big whoop.)

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