This winter, we all faced the possibility of a “Swine Flu” epidemic. Blizzards pounded the midsection of the country and buried the East Coast. There were earthquakes and tidal waves. CNN and the Weather Network enjoyed very high ratings. But in our house, when sick, snowed in, or otherwise cooped up, our family watches INFOMERCIALS.

It all started when my older daughter still lived at home. An insomniac, she discovered the world of slicers and dicers as a night owl, while channel surfing. She became obsessed with the Popeil family. Her interests fanned out to the likes of Billy Mays and his cohorts. She is a great influence on her mother, and before long, I found myself in the thrall of the great TV hucksters.

Our first purchase was a sandwich maker that you could use to make the usual grilled cheese sandwiches, but according to the adorable, pudgy middle aged TV chef selling the product, you could also use it to make cakes, omelets, biscuits, and even bake potatoes! When it arrived, we breathlessly buttered the bread, added cheese, and VOILA! It produced a dumpy little grease ball that looked like a pale Twinkie and tasted like, well, deep fat fried Velveeta.

We were not discouraged, oh no! We watched a fascinating hour long show about closet organization that featured hangers that held six shirts apiece; only ten dollars for a set of six. If you bought two sets, there was a BONUS offer! We couldn’t get to the phone fast enough!

Through the years, we have purchased floor reviving kits, a pot that cooks meat, vegetables, and warms the dinner rolls all at the same time! We spent one entire Thanksgiving eve perfecting our bikini lines with a revolutionary no pain waxing system. That was the night that Annie declared both her sister and her mother as definitely certifiable.

In my garden, there is a little contraption that when plugged in, frees the entire yard of mosquitoes. It works very well, too—as long as you light tiki torches and use citronella candles along with it. Our gutters are spotless, due to a GUTTER ROBOT that my husband bought on the “Gardening Spectacular” episode on QVC. It works pretty well, and the neighbors like to gather on the curb and watch it as it churns along in the spouting, spewing out little sticks and clumps of leaves. They cheer Charlie on his ladder, as he reaches into the gutter to free up the robot whenever it gets stuck. About every five minutes.

I am a busy woman. Anything that will make my life easier has great appeal. And so, when watching the inspiring infomercial about a woman who realized that her life would be so much less complicated if she had only three items in her wardrobe that would combine effortlessly into AT LEAST THIRTY different outfits, I was mesmerized. I watched as she took what looked like a tube of material, wrapped it around her neck and somehow hooked her arms through it, and pouf! It was shrug! She took the skirt, hiked it up under her armpits, and IT WAS A STUNNING SLEEVELESS GOWN! The belt became a necklace. The belt, combined with the tube and the skirt, morphed into a dress with a little cowl neckline. This was amazing. I thought about how I could empty my entire closet and replace my clothing with a belt, a skirt, and a tube! I had my hand on the phone, when Charlie walked in. He put his hand on my dialing wrist, held it firmly, and said, “Are these going to be featured in the NY Times “Styles” section?”

He was so right. I didn’t order. My husband made me realize that I had a problem. It was a struggle, but I have given up my infomercials for shows that have a higher intrinsic value. I watch to learn, to expand, and to intensify my experience of life on this fragile planet.

Have you seen “The Hoarders?” What about “Celebrity Intervention?”

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