Shipping and Handling Not Included

It’s all because of infomercials. Those damn infomercials. I’m broke. Penniless. Destitute. “Buddy, can you spare a dime?” “Spare change, Mister?” “Will work for food.”

Oh, I know it is my own fault. I’m not blaming the cheery, determined television pitchmen who sell their wares through half-hour infomercials or short one-minute mini-mercials at all times of the day and night. I blame myself for being weak, gullible, financially irresponsible, and a sucker.

It all started when Dan Aykroyd demonstrated that Bass-O-Matic on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s. I couldn’t resist. Maybe it was the pot I was smoking. Maybe it was my lifelong love of trout milkshakes. Maybe it was greed, materialism. Maybe it was stupidity. But I called NBC and, after several combative back-and-forths of “Sir, that was a comedy sketch.” and “I don’t care. I have to have it. NOW!” the receptionist, who I am certain was moonlighting from his day-job as a pusher, gave-in and sent me one. I used it immediately, mixing myself my long-yearned-for trout shake, with tartar sauce I might add, but became violently ill by the second sip. (I had to sip it because chunks of trout became stuck in my salmon-colored Flexi-Straw.) The next morning, after I’d aired-out my apartment, I threw the Bass-O-Matic away in an effort to avoid becoming a serial vomiter. But it was too late. That fish-oriented blender had served as my gateway drug into the addictive world of infomercials.

I don’t remember all the items I bought during the next years. I just have flashes of hanging upside in gravity boots in the bathroom doorway of my cramped efficiency apartment. I vaguely remember aerobicizing naked to a Jane Fonda video until the floor gave way and I found myself dangling by my underarms over the shocked retired nun in the apartment below.

And I have a vision of waking up surrounded by piles of Susan Lucci’s Youthful Essence cosmetic cases. I don’t remember buying them. Why I did is a mystery? I don’t wear make-up. Except on Halloween and Saturdays. I have a cloudy memory of struggling to get up, stepping over the make-up kits, tripping over a gaggle of allegedly professional, super-powerful hair driers, cords a-tangled, stubbing my toe on a George Foreman Grill, and falling and hitting my head on a Suzanne Somers Thigh-Master.

But that fall, apparently, was a wake-up call, because when I came to I found an inner discipline and went for several years without responding to any infomercials. That monkey, I thought, was off my back. Until that fateful lonely Friday night when I saw those damn darling hoodies with the chimpanzees straddling the shoulders. It would have been bad enough had I bought only one, but I purchased one in every color. Even the see-through one. The one that exposed my Kymora Body-Shaper. The body-shaper that restores one’s youthful figure, hides all panty lines, and makes it impossible for the squeezed-in wearer to perform basic physical tasks, like hanging upside down in gravity boots, bending over to put on Mop-shoes (which failed to pick up the dust on my wooden floors as promised!), eat or breathe.

I was drowning in my addiction again. Drowning in SuperBeets energy drink. Drowning in imported bubble-bath made from Nepalese yak bile. And drowning in debt. But luckily, my friends recognized my need for help this time and held an intervention for me at my apartment. Well, I should say tried to hold an intervention for me. They couldn’t get in; the piles of boxed Bedazzlers, Ab Roller Exercise Wheels, and Ove-Gloves I had amassed blocked the door. They went home. I turned on the TV. And wrapped myself in my burgundy Snuggie. I actually liked my light blue one more, but I felt when I put my arms through that blanket’s sleeves, it made me look fat.

Before I knew it I had ordered the Bob the Big Mouth Bass wall-mounted wiggling, singing fish. I should not have done that. It was a mistake. But it wasn’t a total waste. The sex was fantastic. And mounting it on the wall was a snap with my Little Giant 24-in-1 Ladder. Thank you, Seattle’s Richard Karn, formerly of Home Improvement, for introducing me, and the world, to that heaven-sent invention. Oh, how you have improved mankind’s challenges and made Seattle proud.

Then I purchased Cathy Mitchell’s Red Copper 5-Minute Chef stick-proof, self-washing cookware.  That was absolutely totally stupid because I hadn’t cooked since I had made that trout milkshake in the mid-‘70s. Oh, and I bought a set of My-Pillows. But then I learned the huckster who had sold it to me was a Trump supporter so I murdered them with one of my two or three dozen Ginsu knives and replaced the pillows with the Lavender Pillow when its own ad appeared ad nauseam. The Lavender Pillow was, obviously, a better choice for me anyway.

I must have been influenced by the aroma of my Lavender Pillow—it did make me light-headed—but I bought a Bamboo Bra. OK, I bought a case. I don’t know why. It makes no sense. I don’t need bras. Well, except on Halloween and Saturdays. I just wish the infomercial had mentioned that when one buys a case of Bamboo Bras, the purchase includes a panda. A live panda. Why? Because pandas eat bamboo? Following that logic, I should have received a Japanese sword-swallower with my Ginsu knives. Hmmm? Not a bad idea. Anyway, when I first saw the panda, I was shocked and didn’t know where to keep the cute animal. But then I realized Cathy Mitchell’s largest Red Copper pot was the perfect size. And it even has plumbing and a flushing mechanism.

Ping, my panda, keeps me quite busy. I don’t really have time to watch infomercials anymore. I think my adorable little roommate has helped me kick that addiction for good. In fact I know he has. Just last week, I inadvertently caught the beginning of a Star Shower ad promoting a system of projected-on-your-house moving holiday decorative images and I could resist it. I saw Halloween themed images, then Christmas ones.  But when I realized there were no images to celebrate Gay Pride—no nude men; no rainbows; no nude men; no pink triangles; no nude men; no pictures of Judy, Barbra, Madonna, or Gaga; and no nude men—I, with an internal strength I did not know I had, channel-surfed away. And I did that without any shaking, cravings, or crying. I haven’t bought a single infomercial item since. I believe I am cured this time. No. I know I’m cured. No more impulsive infomercial purchases for me.

I could go on, but I had better stop. In just a few minutes, The Home Shopping Channel, which is a godsend for those of us needing alternative pastimes to those addicting infomercials, is going to have a sale on satin bedroom slippers with a beaded Bass-O-Matic on the instep. They are to die for. I just have to have the lavender ones. I might even get a navy blue pair for Richard Karn.

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