Hanes “Phone Toss”

If you bumped into Michael Jordan and tried to chat him up, would he politely escape as soon as possible? Good chance. So, it’s somehow gratifying to see a vignette — as you do in this spot for Hanes, via The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va. — in which a certified A-list celeb tries to glom onto the great Michael and is similarly dismissed. Playing himself (and quite convincingly, too), Charlie Sheen seems just as star-struck on bumping into Jordan as any of us would be. Addressing Jordan as “the Hanes man himself,” Sheen burbles about the fact that the collar of his new Hanes undershirt doesn’t stretch out. A voiceover then promises that the collar will lie flat — or, rather, “lay flat.” (More on that in a moment.) Are men actually plagued by unruly collars on their undershirts? It’s news to me. But if you’re a fan of Jordan or Sheen (or both), you’ll be suitably distracted from wondering whether Hanes is selling a solution for a problem you don’t have. Finally, let us note that English teachers around the country will be hot under their respective collars when they hear the voiceover speak of the product’s “lay flat collar” and see those words emblazoned on the packaging. An unusual mini-essay in my edition of Webster’s acknowledges that the use of “lay” (which is a transitive verb) has become common in places where the intransitive “lie” would be correct. But it adds that the “rise to respectability” of such usage has been slow. “Remember that even though many people do use lay for lie, others will judge you unfavorably if you do so.” You’ve been warned. –Mark Dolliver