Dr. PhilI ventured over to the Paramount lot yesterday for a meeting. None of the studios have ample parking, but Paramount’s main parking lot is comically over-crowded. Their solution is a crew of pseudo-valets who don’t actually park your car, but rather jockey other cars around when you inevitably find yourself stuck behind three Land Rovers. It’s like a scaled-up version of those sliding-number puzzles, only with a higher probability of fender damage.

Yesterday, the parking was worse than usual, because the adjacent executive parking lot — in truth, a sunken area designed to be flooded when crews need to shoot outdoor water sequences — was being used for a taping of the Dr. Phil show.

Since a significant portion of readers live outside the U.S., I should briefly explain who Dr. Phil is. He’s a bald, oversized Texan who got his start on the Oprah Winfrey show dishing out common-sense advice to people in bad situations. He now has his own show, books, and media empire.

After parking the Prius, I noticed a sizable crowd of white women in their 30’s and 40’s waiting patiently for blazer-wearing interns to herd them along. At first, I assumed it was a tour group, but in fact it was the Dr. Phil audience, who’d just spent an hour or three in the hot sun for a taping of the show. They all had blue t-shirts (which is why I assumed they were a tour group). It wasn’t until I got closer that I could read what was printed on them.

Some said, “Thunder Thighs.” Others had similar anatomical features, such as “Big Butt” or “Flabby Arms.” These observations were, I’m sad to report, largely accurate. That doesn’t make them any less disturbing.

Apparently, the idea of the episode was that you got handed a t-shirt with a self-critical message printed on the back. I keep trying to imagine the exact thought process the women in the audience went through.

  1. Wow! I got a Dr. Phil t-shirt! The girls back at Winn-Dixie are gonna be jealous.
  2. Huh. It’s got “Thunder Thighs” printed on it.
  3. Maybe I can wear it under a baggy shirt, so you can see the Dr. Phil logo, but not what’s printed on the back.
  4. I’m glad I didn’t get the “Saggy Tits” shirt.

Dr. Phil apparently is a real doctor, with a degree in psychology, so I can only assume the t-shirts were part of a “break-em-down, build-em-up” program with clear goals and careful follow-up. Somehow compressed down to 40 minutes.

But I think it’s unfair that only these women got t-shirts. The only fair thing would be to force everyone on the Paramount lot to wear blue t-shirts publicly stating their insecurities. Some of the more common t-shirts would be:

  • “Hack”
  • “Borderline Psychotic”
  • “Five Years Older Than I Admit”
  • “$40,000 in Debt”
  • “Fender Denter”
  • “Fat Lucky Texan”

Mine would read “Pee Shy.” I’m going to publicly come out and say it takes me forever to start peeing in a crowded men’s room. I have to hum TLC’s “Waterfalls” to get the flow started. (If I get to Left Eye’s rap section, I just give up and hold it.)

Your turn. What would your t-shirt read? And you might as well be honest, since it’s anonymous and all.