Confessions of an Infomercial Shopaholic

Once in a blue moon, your local team wins a hockey championship and your lousy drunk neighbors feel it’s okay to scream and whoop into the wee hours of the morning. Work be damned. Sometimes, anxiety prevents you from getting a fitful sleep. Sometimes, it’s too hot or you’re too sick, and you spend the night tossing, turning, fidgeting, until the alarm jars you into consciousness and you begrudgingly drag yourself out of bed to face another day.

Whatever the reason, I’m prone to bouts of insomnia. Many times, I would fall asleep on the couch while watching TV and wake up between 2-4 AM. I used to burn time smoking and/or playing Galaga and Ms. Pacman until the sun came up or when I finally felt sleepy again. Whichever came first.

Sometimes when I’m lucky, I wake up to the same episode of  “Cold Case” over and over again. You know the one: in which the kid from “The Nanny” plays a recovering junkie who thought she lost her baby in a fire only to realize someone stole her child and set fire to the apartment building. (It makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.)

Every now and then, I have the misfortune of waking up to Joel Osteen. Hideous, just hideous.

But more often than not, I wake up to an infomercial. And more times than I care to admit, I’ve found myself grabbing the phone or logging online to snatch up whatever it is that they are pushing. I don’t even reach for the credit card anymore… I know all the numbers by heart.

I’m an infomercialholic. You name it, I have it.

It started out innocently enough. One of the first items I ever bought was some “miracle” product that wiped scratches off glasses without dissolving the tint on sunglasses. (I never tried it, it’s still in the box.) Then there was that laser leveling thing that was supposed to help you put up paintings and shit evenly. (Never used it. Except to fuck with the neighbor’s cat.)

Then came the plethora of workout/diet stuff: Kathy Smith’s yoga (still plastic-wrapped), pilates (used a few times), Zumba (still in the box), Gunnar Peterson’s core secrets (the ball’s been gathering dust since 2010), Food Lovers for Life (I gave up after day one), a pole dancing workout (declined the pole option as I had 15-foot ceilings at the time).

I even bought the Tracy Anderson method. We oughta know that anything endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow should be completely dismissed. I’ll be posting this up on ebay soon.

I also have “Debt Cures” though I have yet to read it (I’m several months behind on my Food & Wine subscription, you think I have time to for this? Besides, there’s only one cure for debt: pay it off as soon as you can.)

There are some pretty neat and useful stuff though. Tai Bo was pretty darn awesome until I got rid of my VHS player and eventually gave up the tapes. The pilates and Hip Hop Abs DVDs got some use and I do plan on working out with Zumba fitness. As soon as I clear the clutter in my apartment and am able to move around.

I have the space-saving Swivel Store spice rack (two, actually) which is only useful for bottles that are small enough (but my good stuff comes in jars too big to fit.) The rub (pun intended) is that I couldn’t fit them into my cabinets, so they’re sitting out on the kitchen counter. I bought the Smart Spin tupperware set but, ironically, the carousel took up too much room and had to be chucked eventually. (And yes, I got the second set for free, only paid shipping and handling, because one can never have enough tupperware.)

I love Total Pillow but I wish I had discovered this when my tailbone was broken and sitting down was a pain for eight excruciating months.

The Magic Bullet has proven to be a nifty little gadget. It’s mostly used for grinding spices as I own a Vitamix, food processor and immersion blender, which individually accomplish their specific tasks magnificently. (I am, after all, addicted to kitchen gadgetry.)

No infomercial shopaholic is worth his/her salt if he/she doesn’t own a Snuggie (I have three. One for the office, one for the car, and one for home.) Be very careful ordering this online, by the way. Those Snuggie purveyors are sneaky bastards. Rather than take you to a confirmation page before putting your order through, you are taken to a “Wait, but there’s more…” offer page in which they tempt you into buying another two-for-one deal. The submit button takes you to a new page that looks just like the one you were on, tricking you into thinking that the order didn’t go through. You think you’ll have a chance to review your order before submitting it, but you don’t and before you know it, you’re paying $100 in shipping and handling fees and left wondering what to do with a shitload of Snuggies. (Merry f***ing Christmas, family!)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I bought the Genie Bra (several, actually.) I didn’t realize how much weight I had put on at the time and discovered that my underwire bras were bruising my skin. This was a welcome addition to my, uh, intimates drawer.

Then there are the beauty products. I’m the proud owner of the NoNo hair removal system but I still get waxed. Couldn’t bring myself to cheat on my long-time waxer Tamara. (No one should accuse me of being disloyal.)

I’ve even tried Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty. It’s that skin care regimen formulated with extracts from the wonder melon from France that keeps your skin looking young.Allegedly. I really should know better than to buy a product being hawked by a supermodel whose face once evidenced a botched plastic surgery job. Have you seen my mother? Genetics will do more for me than hundreds of dollars’ worth of skin care products.

I tried my hand – correction: head – at Wen. That’s the shampoo/conditioner all-in-one that’s supposed to unfrizz frizzy hair. Which is bullshit, as photos from my week in Mexico show. It does a good job of preserving my highlights; however, I’m in love with the usually-discounted Suave shampoo and conditioner. (The smell of apple in my hair is intoxicating.)

But the most helpful of all the products I’ve bought and tried (or not tried) over the years is ProActiv. Jessica Simpson and other celebrities might be paid handsomely for their testimonials, but I’ll give one for free. I’ve been on ProActiv for ten years and it has done wonders for my acne. I still get the occasional breakout but I don’t think any product on earth can totally prevent it (maybe the Martians have something better.) Since you can now buy this from vending machines (there’s a dispenser at the Century City mall by the chair massage), I believe it has transcended infomercial mockery into legit status.

But I don’t believe I’m completely ill. I never felt the need to get the thighmaster (though in the spirit of full disclosure, an old roommate had one and I borrowed it occasionally.) So give me a little credit: I have successfully avoided buying the Sham-wow and the shake weight, and until I buckle, there’s no need for an intervention. And heaven strike me if I ever buy the pajama jean.



Marathoner, culinarian & gourmand, beach bum, poker/trivia enthusiast, Dorothy Parker-worshipping wit and all-around OK gal who likes to travel

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