But Wait, There's More

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's 3:12 a.m., and I'm up, watching infomercials again. I have no intention of buying the Showtime Rotisserie, the Swivel Sweeper or the BeDazzler; in that way, I am able to forgive myself for how pathetic this is.

I just like to watch. Is that so ridiculous? The insomniacs of America understand. The infomercial industry has been built on our special needs.

I come from a long line of insomniacs, my own particular specialty being the pop-awake-at-3-o'clock edition. Suddenly, for no known reason, I awake to find my brain stuck in some exciting loop of perseveration. Back in the old days, when this first started, I would just lie there pleading with my thoughts to stop, which, of course, only encouraged them to continue. In time, I discovered the trick is to sit up and find some very, very boring diversion.

Math can work. Counting from 100 backward by 3's a good one. You get so sick of doing it by about 64, your brain is eager to quit. Reading can be helpful, but the book has to be bad. If it's good, the mind just gets cranked up again. If it's too bad, you get angry at the author and the publishing industry, all fired up. So finding just the perfectly bad book can be tricky. Nothing, I'm telling you, beats the infomercial. I've got the TV on a one-hour timer, the volume way down low at level nine -- I'm set.

Right now a woman is trying to persuade me to try out a Tempur-Pedic mattress. I don't know. Has the problem all these years simply been my mattress? I don't have a backache or a hip ache or a neck ache, like so many people giving testimonials used to have before they bought the bed. Oh, hang on. I love this part! An experiment with a little silver ball landing on the mattress and not bouncing, not even a centimeter. Hey, try that on a Sleep Number Bed. I would never buy a Sleep Number Bed. Too gimmicky. The Tempur-Pedic is for purists, such as myself. I have no intention of buying the bed, but somehow I'm grateful that there are people like me (the Tempur-Pedic mattress sleepers) in the world.

What am I talking about? Am I falling asleep yet?

Almost, apparently. Whoops. Not quite.

I push the remote and land on the story of the Slendertone FLEX Abdominal Toning Belt, one of my favorites. Toned abs everywhere, giving me hope. And a doctor right there on the TV saying that clinical trials prove fancy-schmancy this and that. A doctor! Everybody is so happy. Everybody has found the answer. There is joy and goodness and proof in the world. Who wouldn't like to fall asleep on that note?

Every insomniac awake with me tonight surely would. I think of them. My people. I think of sharing the love of the Slendertone FLEX with them. We are the world. This is so beautiful. (Am I falling asleep yet?) The thing about infomercials is that they connect me. Not just with the insomniacs but with a whole audience the infomercial industry knows is out here struggling through the lonely hours. The nurses and the coal miners and the bus drivers just finishing up the night shift. The mothers nursing babies. The next of kin in the hospital emergency room awaiting news. The guy making the doughnut dough, and the widow in slippers who called the landlord who has yet to show up to fix the leak that flooded the bathroom floor.

We could, of course, watch something else. We could watch a movie or the news. But news is upsetting, and movies demand that you keep watching until the end. The thing about infomercials is that you can drift off at any point because they keep repeating the same information over and over again. A rhythm, a mantra. There is a problem (flabby abs) and a miracle (Slendertone FLEX) followed by a problem (lots of pictures you never get around to hanging on your walls) and a miracle (Hercules Hooks).

No tools required. With the Hercules Hook, you just push, set and hang . . . Heavy or light, big or small, it hooks, hangs and secures them all. I love these things. I love watching the guy hang the giant garage storage rack -- "with confidence."

Each Hercules Hook supports an incredible 150 pounds -- strong enough to hold my husband, if he lost a few pounds. Should he lose a few pounds? I could easily hang my sister up with one of these things. And my children. And lots of friends. Just push, set and hang . . . You'll receive 10 Hercules Hooks for only $14.99. Order right now, and we'll double the offer and send you 20 Hercules Hooks. Do I have 20 friends I want to hang on walls? Just push, set and hang. I dream of a house filled with loved ones hanging on the walls. It's a party, everybody four feet off the ground, sipping drinks and laughing, nobody bothered by the yapping dog too short to nip their ankles.

It's a stupid dream, but like all dreams to all insomniacs, glorious.

Jeanne Marie Laskas's e-mail address is post@jmlaskas.com.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company