I was channel surfing and landed on the Home Shopping Network. I had assumed that people who buy from HSN are either housebound, lonely or certifiable. Why would anyone purchase items they can't first touch, smell, taste, or try on?
Two women, each with perfect hair, Chicklet smiles, and saccharin voices, were promoting stretch jeans. They waved their hands, ala Vanna White, and described the color, texture, pockets, stitching, and thrill of being able to remove them at the end of the day, and not find a red ring around their waist.
Red ring? How was it that I'd never had one of those? I felt cheated.
I never knew so much detail could be ascribed to a pair of pants, other than they come with a waist band, zipper and two openings for legs, which I don't recall them mentioning at all.
Callers phoned in, swooned, and agreed that since they had been wearing those jeans they, too, were without red waistband rings. It became my mission to find someone with a red waistband ring and make them show me what I'd been missing.
Celia, from Atlanta, called and admitted to already having seven pairs of those incredible jeans but decided to make it a nice round number by ordering five more.
"They're absolutely wonderful," she oozed. "I wear them for just about everything: digging in the garden, working at the office and, with the right accessories, I've even worn them to weddings and bar mitzvahs."
As they listened to Celia's review, the two saleswomen began salivating; barely able to contain their excitement. They reminded viewers to not wait another moment. "Get to your phones or computers and order immediately. We've been advised that there are only eight hundred sixty three pairs of these unique jeans remaining, and you do not want to miss out on this stupendous offer."
I was prepared to switch channels when those two honey-tongued sweeties brought out a product that clutched at my heart: "Tan Towels" -- self-tanning towelettes.
I live in New Jersey. I hadn't seen or felt sun on my body in over five months. I looked like I'd been dredged in flour. A few hours earlier I remarked to Mighty Marc that it was time to head south, because I had begun to blend in with the walls.
The camera zoomed in on a model's arms. One was pasty white, like mine. The other was a golden tan. She slid a moist Tan Towel over her untanned arm, and we were assured that within minutes she would look like she just returned from two weeks in Hawaii.
Before I could think it through, I reached for my credit card and phoned the number on the screen. I knew I had to do it immediately because there were only 6,003 Tan Towels left, and their phone lines were lighting up.
I made the fateful call and returned to the television, afraid I might miss something.
This time Margaret was on the phone. Margaret was extolling the magical wonders of Tan Towels, which she had purchased at an earlier date.
"I've been using them for several months, now," she said. "They make me look and feel so good."
Sugar dripped from her lips as one of the beauties asked, "Margaret, would you mind telling our audience your age?"
"Not at all," she said. "I'm 84, and my boyfriend says I've never looked better."
The saleswomen could hardly catch their breath.
"Did you hear that?" one of them gasped. "Margaret is 84 and still cares about how she looks. How absolutely adorable."
I froze in my tracks. Was there a cutoff date for caring how I look? I'm 74. Margaret was 84, which meant, if I was lucky, I still had at least ten years of caring ahead of me. I made a note to go to Google and find out how much time I had before I no longer gave a damn.
My Tan Towels arrived and I couldn't wait to start smearing them over my body. The HSN ladies assured me that my color would never turn orange or streak. I hadn't realized that since the moisture was clear, there was no way of knowing whether I was overlapping areas. Also, I couldn't reach my back.
I now look like a member of the animal kingdom; leathery brown knees and elbows, and zebra striped body. Somehow I managed to totally miss my hairline so I look like I'm wearing a white headband.
I wonder where I can buy a lightweight, summery, burka.