Apparently I am the only person in America who never got a single laugh out of the Seinfeld show. Virtually every sitcom today resembles Seinfeld, with enough laugh track punched in to fill a chicken house with cackles.
I have discovered television that affords me enough chortles to keep me guffawing far into the night. It is the infomercials. They inspire me, not to chuckle at the shows themselves. I snicker, or perhaps sneer, at the suckers taken in by these absurd pitches.
You can become rich working 20 minutes a day or less. You can be slim as a champion athlete while still slurping your colas and chomping your chips. You can display the shapely body of a Jennifer Lopez and still loaf like John Goodman.
You can be eternally young, with flawless skin and lustrous hair. You can be smart as Einstein without reading tedious books.
The champion of all infomercial presenters is Carlton Sheets. Some nights, his program runs on two channels simultaneously. Carlton will teach you how to become rich by investing in real estate with little or no money down. You may walk away after closing a deal jingling new money in your pocket.
His programs feature people formerly down and out. Now, in a short time they are banking five and six figure incomes. They take exotic vacations and spend weekends piloting their new boats.
What Carlton doesn’t tell you is you don’t get rich just owning real estate. You have to become a landlord. You take on all those onerous chores of attracting renters, collecting overdue rents, evicting deadbeats, fixing the plumbing and conforming to building codes.
Most common programs other than the get rich quick and hair restorers are the ones that shape up your body with little or no effort. In just 10 days, at three minutes a day, you can reduce your dress size by two notches. These home exercise gadgets bear names like the Ab-Doer, the Total Gym and the Gazelle Glider. One of the most advertised is the Ab Slide, a wheel with handles you push out and in to flatten your abdominals.
The full gym machines vary from one having a frame you manipulate by gyrating your arms and shoulders, to inclines where you slide up and down, to the resistance of metal bows like archery bows.
These exercise gadgets fold easily to slide under your bed (sure they do). They are yours for a certain number of payments. Have your credit card handy when you call. Some won’t tell you the price. One offers a 30-day home trial for $14.95. It says nothing about the remaining cost.
For losing weight, one woman has a program where you shave off the pounds by following a breathing routine. Others sell supplements that rev up your metabolism. The pounds melt off while you continue to pig out.
To me, the most distasteful product is the Australian hair removal system. You smear this goo on the hair on your leg. Press over it a piece of cloth that looks like canvas, then suddenly rip the cloth off. Presto, all the unwanted hair is gone. The mere sound of the ripping terrorizes me. You use the same strip of cloth over and over. The idea of reusing a cloth already covered with tufts of previously-yanked hair activates my gag reflex.
Victoria Principle, among others, peddles stuff in a bottle that immediately erases all those crow’s feet and wrinkles, guaranteeing perpetual youth. One chiropractor peddles an elixir that pumps up your brain to the genius level. Another has a program that lets you absorb 693,000 words a minute from books, but it’s not speed reading, it’s called Photo Reading.
If only I had sufficient credit left on my Visa, I could become a beautiful, rich genius in much less time than it takes me to sit through these interminable classes at Portland State.