Stafford: ‘Ex-PIE-yerd!’ Aunt infestation commercial an instant classic

Some people pronounce the word aunt like they do gaunt or font.

Then there’s the rest of us who pronounce it like ant, the thing that allows my favorite now running commercial to go from zero to 60 faster than anything Big Daddy Don Garlits or Shirley Muldowney ever sat inside.

I’m not saying it’s the best Geico commercial of all time.

After all, there’s the cave man series, the gecko, the camel announcing hump day and the one recently called back from retirement in which NBA great Dikembe Mutombo rejects groceries from carts like he did balls from rims.

Still, “Aunt Infestation” (search for it on the internet) is what the sports folks call an instant classic.

It opens with a couple mostly taking a moment to rest on a couch in their new home that’s fine but for one thing: “We have aunts.”

And though I’ll return to that scene, for the moment Aunt Bonnie is calling me.

Because the entry for annoying in the World Internet Dictionary should be a clip of Aunt Bonnie as she stands by the open refrigerator door reading food labels and shouting “Ex-PIE-yerd! Ex-PIE-yerd! Ex-PIE-yerd!”

It’s not only that she seems to have retired from a career of prosecuting people who tear off their mattress tags.

It’s that the inescapable voice makes me think her homicide will be the first test case that reaches the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the legislature’s recently passed stand-your-ground law.

And if the statute doesn’t save the defendant, the insanity defense will be a lock.

In truth, though, Aunt Bonnie may be less disrespectful to the new home owners than Aunt 2, the one who interrupts the couple’s rest to tell them, “It’s a lot of house, I hope you can keep it clean.”

Because although Bonnie damns the couple for a minor infraction, it’s already happened.

Aunt 2′s tone of voice carries the presumption that the clean-cut couple will fail to clean their house in way that will leave it, their souls both sinful and unclean. It also leaves one suspecting that she’ll think up some reason to drop by for quarterly inspections.

The commercial’s drama peaks when the aunt who sucker-punches Teddy in the opening scene by telling him “you’re slouching again” passes him on the upstairs landing and asks whether he’s received her friend request.

Teddy’s response — “I’ll have to check” — would go down in history as one of the world’s most obvious lies but for one thing: that Teddy is redeemed by his miraculous ability to stop himself from strangling her on the spot, then friending and unfriending her later.

This demonstrates a level of self-control Teddy’s female partner shows when she manages actually to thank Aunt Bonnie for holding up all the bottles of salad dressing that have “Ex-PIE-yerd” – without gagging.

It brings to mind the Geico commercial in which Pinocchio tries to be a motivational speaker.

All this leads up to the transcendent moment at commercial’s end when Aunt Joanie wanders around the locked house ringing the bell, knocking and announcing in a voice the entire neighborhood crime watch group can hear that she has arrived. Here, the dramatists in this rare comedy/drama leaves us the possibility of a sequel or two.

To me, three plot possibilities suggest themselves.

1. Because the pandemic shuttered local mental services, the couple is holed up in a utility shed not in their backyard, but in a Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Home Depot parking lot to avoid dealing with another aunt.

2. Having been so traumatized during the move-in, the couple has forfeited the security deposits for the limousine service, band and reception halls after going online to secure a justice of the peace and Elvis impersonator to help with their elopement.

3. The infestation of aunts leads the couple that met to renounce their faith tradition and set aside previously tithed funds to transform the electronic collars available that come with invisible dog fences into elegant diamond necklaces they suggest their aunts to wear on every visit, starting with the house-warming.

I really don’t know how they do it, but those Geico folks are always funnier than the competition by way more than 15%.