“You’re going to love my nuts” was the phrase that almost got me to buy a Slap Chop off the TV. I didn’t need a Slap Chop, as I had knives and never cooked; but the spokesman Vince said “you’re going to be in a great mood all day, because you’re going to be slapping your troubles away with the Slap Chop” and I wanted to believe him. But as I reached for my phone, I paused. Something started brewing in my mind and it felt like a warning.
This wasn’t my first adventure with telephone shopping. By this point I was an old pro at calling within the next three minutes in order to get my free gift with purchase. I kept a pad of paper and pencil next to my couch for easy access when a toll free, ten digit number flashed on my TV screen. I had developed a theory that if I saw a commercial more than once and I still really wanted the thing they were pitching, it was meant to be and I should call. I was destined to own this or that bric-a-brac made in Taiwan.
When I was six, my mother opened my eyes to the world of television shopping. I don’t remember the name of the object she bought, but I do recall that it was made of four red, plastic bungees that attached to a door handle and you were suppose to be able to do a full body workout with it. You may recall a similar product written into the Larry Sanders Show called “The Hankerciser 200”. “Too good to be true” should have been the lesson I learned from my mother’s purchase. Especially after I watched her give an assertive tug to one of the bungees, only to have it slip off the door handle and smack her in the face. Unfortunately, the lesson I mistakenly learned was that with a little piece of plastic, you could order anything over the phone and have it delivered to you like a present from God in only seven days.
When it was my turn to start making the calls, I was the perfect demographic for television shopping. I was just out of college, lived alone in a studio apartment and had my first credit card. I was going from one “romantic” three month relationship to the next and rarely saw my friends due to an odd-hours job in retail. Good times. I also might have been slightly depressed.
So there I would sit, futon facing the TV and take out on the table. Zoning out and barely watching the show I had flipped to, I would be jarred awake with a flashing light and booming voice. “You NEED to BUY this!” yelled the commercials. You are a cigarette smoking, morbidly obese, stressed out, old and ugly, overly busy person who needs a quick fix! You will be so happy with the results you see with this plastic metal machine miracle video and/or dvd!
I knew these commercials were lying. I knew that what they were selling would most likely not work. But I wanted to buy into the hype. I was unfulfilled and needed something to fill that void. And it worked, for a while. I got presents that occasionally did what they advertised they’d do. I would say 1 out of 5 items worked, as long as I used them as directed. The other 4 were pieces of shit and only good as a pre-paid “surprise” in the mail.
Luckily for me (and my wallet), my life started to change and the hold that ‘As Seen On TV’ had on me started to fade. One evening, two of my closest friends who had been actively working on getting me out of my self-inflicted seclusion came over to my studio for a visit. After getting really, very high and watching embarrassing childhood videos, I decided to up the ante by showing them one of the items I had purchased off the TV. Not only were they surprised that I had outed myself as an infomercial junkie, but they could not believe what I had paid actual money for: “Facial Magic”
“Want to reverse sagging facial muscles, and maintain your youthful appearance-without surgery? Then you must try Facial Magic! It tightens and firms double chins, jowls, sagging lids, droopy necks and more.” I was 23. I didn’t know what a jowl was. But I haaad to buy ‘Facial Magic’! I mean, it has the word magic in its name and it comes with white freakin’ cotton gloves! Basically, you stick your fingers in your mouth and make faces as you tighten your face muscles. Please enjoy a demo of the Facial Magic technique by clicking “MAGIC”.
It didn’t matter if I was high as balls or not, the faces the women were making in the instruction video were mesmerizing. My friends asked me if I bought stuff off TV often. I shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Nah.” But then they asked me to list what I had purchased. The list kept growing and growing and I got more embarrassed and ashamed. That’s when I started to realize I needed to get a grip on my purchasing habit, put the phone down and lock up my credit card. Four years later, memories of our laughter kept me from buying that Slap Chop.
Let me just say, I feel for the people who are still trapped in infomercial hell. Those packages that appear on your doorstep (even though you paid for them) sure do make you feel special. But it is a false happiness. What’s really special is experiencing life outside of the television. The good news for me is that I can laugh at myself now! God damn, I bought some stupid shit. So, for my personal development and for your entertainment, here is a list of some of the crap I bought through infomercials in no particular order. Enjoy!
- A ‘stop smoking’ device that punctured holes into a cigarette’s filter. -The theory was that less smoke would reach your lungs because it would go out the hole in the filter. However, if you cover the hole with your lips, you get the full drag and the plastic piece of crap you bought is a waste of money.
- Facial Magic -I pulled a cheek muscle and stopped using it.
- ProActiv acne treatment -I got it so long ago, Judith Light from “Who’s the Boss” was the spokeswoman.
- A “magnetic reflexology” shoe insert made of plastic. -A piece of plastic with sharp magnets glued to it. It was bumpy and hurt to walk on.
- Tony Little’s Gazelle “You can do it!” -I didn’t actually get this off of the television, but I wanted to. I got it for $150 cheaper on Craig’s List.
- 8 Min. Abs and Buns VHS video -Turns out 8 minutes were too long for my lazy ass.
- Winsor “Gotta keep both cheeks even” Pilates -The plastic band that came with the dvd snapped in half and hit my face. (like mother, like daughter…)
- Billy Blanks Tae-Bo VHS -Lots of fun, but one must continue to use it for results to happen. I chose pizza.
- Q-Ray -I have pain, I thought it could help. It didn’t. It also made my wrist green.
- Smooth Away: removes hair instantly and pain free -Who really thought sandpaper was a good way to remove hair?
- Abtronic Electronic Fitness System: Tones and tighten your muscles with gentle electronic stimulation! -Yes, I tried to shock the fat off my stomach. However, this was the last thing I bought off the television. My future husband’s finger pointing and laughter was shame enough for me to never do it again.