Confessions of an Insomniac TV Shopper
By Ann Boutcher
I am sure that five minutes after The Tomatoes publishes this I will hear from the ‘As Seen on TV’ folks but no matter, I shall soldier on. It’s three AM and you have been tossing and turning for an hour; it is time for the ultimate sleeping pill- – the flickering blue light of the TV. You start with the NCIS marathon and then purchase your dream villa on the coast of Spain thanks to House Hunters International. Did you know that you can watch that show at nine o’clock, fall asleep before it ends and catch the ending when they run it again at midnight after you wake up because falling asleep on the couch is killing your back! It happened to me last week and for a moment I thought I was in Ground Hog Day! I digress. This story is really about the insomniacs very best friend…..those amazing products found only on As Seen on TV infomercials on all those hundreds of cable channels you don’t watch and late night public television.
I know you are smiling because deep down in the far reaches of your home where you hardly ever go are the results of your late night forays into the As Seen on TV World- all those purchases of those products that are just too good to be true. Come on….you know you do it, we all do! We lust after those very cool gadgets, amazing music collections, wonder diets and can’t miss exercise programs. It is human nature.
If you are anywhere near my age your first foray into the As Seen on TV world was the lowly Ginsu knife. They debuted on late night TV in 2006, I think just after The Tonight Show. You got the knife, the matching fork, a six-piece steak knife set and paring knife and some twisty thing that made spiral garnishes out of vegetables….the precursor to today’s miracle vegetable slicer, the Vegetti….all for an amazing $9.95. I remember when my knives arrived how I just had to try and cut the soda can like they did on TV. Now I ask you who needs to cut up soda cans and then slice a tomato? Guilty as charged.
Today’s As Seen on TV’s fare has progressed way beyond the knife. Last summer we bought the amazing Flex Hose. Tired of tripping over a pile of garden hose outside our door and too lazy to purchase some kind of roll up the hose thingy, we went for the flex hose. It shrivels up when you turn the water off. No brainer. No more tripping. If you order right now you get two for $19.95 and so we did. The first one lasted two weeks before it developed what appeared to be a growth near the nozzle. The growth exploded and the water ran down the alley all day until I got home from work. Hose $19.95-Water Bill $200! We did not bother to hook up the second one. Of course the directions don’t tell you that you should not leave the leave the water on when the hose is not in use…not that we ever read the directions anyway.
Undaunted we tried again this year and purchased a sexy black one, the new and improved version that was way better than the original green one we bought last year. Summer is nearly over and it has worked like a charm; so well that we now own two more of them! Don’t ask why we need three garden hoses!!
Pajama Jeans….just in case you are unsure of this…one size does NOT fit all! However, Night Vision glasses really do reduce the glare, although they make you look like someone who just had cataract surgery.….and what the heck is a Dump Cake? I always thought Dump Cake was what you did when it did not come out right.
One of my all-time favs was the Handi Stitcher. I liked that one so much I bought four; two for the low price of $24.95 each and of course that got me two for free. I planned to give them to my other non-sewing friends. For someone who throws out a shirt if the button falls off (so not handy am I) this was the ultimate product. It meant even I could sew…of course you actually have to take it out of the box and read the directions in order to sew. I am not good at reading directions and so my collection of unwearable shirts in need of buttons continues to grow.
Two days ago the amazing copper skillet arrived and I can honestly say I can’t wait to cook milk until it burns and then watch the gunk slide effortlessly out of the pan. Who knows I might even try one of the meals from the free recipe book included when buy the deluxe set that includes two pans, the steamer and fry basket.
Public television is also the beneficiary of our household’s insomnia. I do believe we own every music collection and about half the videos & DVD’s (yes we still own a VCR to play those videos). Our collection starts with the tunes from the 40’s and goes right through the classical collection and the show stoppers of Broadway.
And then there is Zumba. We do not look our best in gym clothes and have long past the age when being a gym-bunny had any social value so the logical choice was to bring the gym home. We have resisted the urge to buy the Bowflex, mostly because we have no room in the apartment to put it and even I have limits to what I will spend on As Seen on TV follies…but Zumba tapes and now DVD’s (we have both) fit on the book shelf and take up less space than this year’s trashy beach novel.
I have been marketing the latest, greatest electronics gadgets for my entire career. You know the one’s you buy to replace the one you already have because this model has two more features that you will likely never use! I have spent a lifetime touting the praises of built-in obsolesce as I write the stuff that gets people like me and you to pony up and call that 800 number to satisfy the ‘gimmie, I want, I need’ in all of us. So the next time the QVC host says there are only 39 of those really nice bags left don’t think about your bulging closets just remember dialing the number will not only make you happy but it is also helping you do your civic duty and fuel our economy!
Ann Boutcher has a knack for finding insights and humor in everyday moments. Until now, her published writing has been limited to work, but now, thanks to this wonderful opportunity as a guest editor, the world will get to witness firsthand her humor, life experiences and the gift of gab she brings to the pages of The Three Tomatoes.