Tuesday, April 28, 2015

(Not Exactly) As Seen On TV

This post has been coming for a long time. When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. Confession is good for the soul. The first step is admitting that you have a problem, and all of that jazz. You see, dear friends, for those of you who are unaware of my condition: I have a strong penchant for infomercial products. Just walking into a room and finding me staring, fixated, at some revolutionary new product on TV causes Clint to sigh, shake his head, and begin immediate damage control. My name is Susie, and I am an As-Seen-On-TV-aholic.

My first recorded infomercial purchase was when I was around the age of eight. Apparently, I was convinced by a savvy advertisement to sign my baby brother up for the Little Golden Books of the Month club. After all, who doesn't want to give the gift of reading? I guess my parents, because once they found out I had used their credit card and signed us up for auto-shipments of children's literature, they were less than thrilled. Even more so when it took a strongly worded letter from an attorney to get the company to stop sending the books and to stop billing my parents for something their eight-year old deemed a must-have purchase.

In my defense, however, not all of my purchases have led to disappointment. Throughout my ordering obsession, I have enjoyed and benefited from many fine products such as the Topsy Tail, Jose Eber's Secret Hair, Billy Blanks Tae Bo, P90X, and let me just go ahead and say it: ProActive cleared up my skin almost as wonderfully as all those celebrities claim it will in their endorsements. Shockingly, I never owned a Bedazzler, but I refuse to even consider the possibility that it was less than a gem of a product. And I think we can all just go ahead and agree that The Clapper pretty much changed the world.

Of course, not every product lives up to the "but wait, there's more!" hype. Sadly, I was less than ecstatic by my Ped Egg, and there was no magic for us with our Magic Bullet (which broke the third time Clint attempted to make his wonder smoothie). I suppose you could say that, over the years, there have been a few disheartening experiences that have resulted from my infomercial madness.

Let me set the scene: it was January, winter 2002, bitterly cold here in Charlotte. We got a record amount of snowfall and, despite my pleading with him to take the day off, Clint left for the office and I was housebound for the day. Snowed in, alone, and bored. Naturally, I turned to the television to remedy my situation, and found myself learning about a fitness program called The Firm. These workouts are still around--just not on VHS the way mine were, and I suppose they have been updated to some degree. The real selling feature of The Firm series is the two plastic step stools that come as part of the kit--the blue one is known as the Fanny Lifter. The purple one is an intensifier, for when you have lifted your fanny, but obviously still want to jack it up higher (I'm paraphrasing the marketing materials on this, but you get the gist).

Now clearly, I had just gone and ordered myself some new-fangled step aerobics regimen, which would have been just fine and fanny, er, dandy, except the good people at Gaiam (the company who churns out this miraculous product) neglected to mention that I had also been signed up to receive new The Firm equipment "essentials" each month, mine to try and enjoy and return for a full refund if not satisfied. I cannot tell you the shock and horror I would experience on a monthly basis when I would arrive home from work and find yet another large package waiting for me that never failed to contain some very colorful piece of plastic gym equipment. I couldn't send them back fast enough, and I had to pay the shipping to return the stuff. I can't remember what negotiating tactics were involved to finally end the steady stream of sub par playground equipment, but I did have to get my hubby involved. He still makes fun of the whole situation to this day, which lands The Firm, the Fanny Lifter, and all 118 other "incredible" products top honors on my most disappointing list.

The next of my less-than-prized-infomercial possessions are the Scoop 'n Strain and the Grip 'n Flip. I was even able to overlook the glaring grammatical errors in the product names on this one. For those of you who missed out on this gourmet cooking phenomenon, the Grip 'n Flip was/is a precision gripping instrument, which results in superior flipability. Gone are the days of clumsily trying to turn burgers--now it is as easy and gripping, and well, flipping. It almost solves all of your culinary problems, right? Except for the fact that it is near impossible to ladle soup without leaving all the meat and vegetables behind, and just serving yourself a big bowl of broth. If only there was someway to both scoop and strain the soup.

Enter the second miracle product in this amazing TV offer, the Scoop 'n Strain. Voila! May you never be burdened by using an ordinary ladle again. There is also that whisk that appears to have been run over by a car, which claims to be a 6-in-1 utensil. I must have missed the demo about that one (I was probably already dialing to order), because all I ever used it for was, frankly, whisking, and it wasn't really the greatest at that. I'm not going to lie: all three of these fine products are still in our kitchen. They've been downgraded from our top drawer MVP utensils to the lowly quarters of the bottom drawer where things like citrus zesters and rolling pins go to die.

My most recent TV purchase was the amazing "just spray and walk away" InVinceable cleaner. It's sold by the crazy guy--whose name just happens to be Vince--who used to do the Slap Chop and ShamWow commercials, so he clearly gets points for credibility there. My little obsessive compulsive heart went pitter patter when I watched all the uses for this most awesome product: bath, tile, laundry, and much, much more! As Vince says, "Your stains may be tough, but they're not InVinceable!" I wisely made the choice to double my order at no extra cost and simply pay additional shipping and handling. Clearly this was not my first As Seen On TV rodeo.

Imagine my dismay when my InVinceable shipment finally arrived and there was some assembly required. What I actually received was a spray bottle (which leaked) and four little tubes of powder cleaner, which had to be mixed with warm water and then used within eight hours of mixing. Believe me when I say I am a clean machine, but even on my wildest disinfecting sprees, I have never managed to use an entire bottle of cleaning product in an eight hour window. As it turns out, that was the least of Invinceable's issues. The grainy powder would not mix with water, and when I finally achieved liquid cleaning status, every surface I sprayed with this concoction was streaked with a dull, white film. I had to go back and re-clean everything I had so hopefully spritzed with my new purchase.

There have been some letdowns along the way, and I'm curbing my enthusiasm for infomercial products. That doesn't mean my addiction has been cured; I still hope to be the proud owner of some Pajama Jeans, think that My Pillow looks like a dream come true (it's the most comfortable pillow you'll ever own, after all), and I just know that Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty cosmetics would no doubt have a profound impact on my youthful appearance. For the time meaning, I'm putting down the remote control and walking away--but you never know--this special offer may be for a limited time only. Operators are, most certainly, standing by.

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