I have never bought anything advertised on television. The closest I came was the Time-Life Soft Rock Classics DVD set, which I assembled through other means, because I had a lot of the music already but not the dollars for the whole deal.
Maybe it’s because of early disappointment. When I was a kid, I sent away for a full-sized Inflatable Batman, and it never arrived, and the $4 I included in that envelope was gone forever. As I got older, I tended to buy things I could fondle first.
This Christmas, we received three As Seen On TV items as gifts. And my initial scoffs were quickly proven wrong.
The first came a few days before Christmas, when the inlaws came down to give the kids (their step-grandchildren) their presents. And there was something for me: Tow Truck In A Box.
The timing was perfect. Someone had tried to back the minivan into its spot after a six-inch fall of slushy snow over a flash-freeze of ice, and had gotten a front tire bogged down in the sinkhole where that tree stump used to be. After a couple of hours of trying to rock it out, I decided to wait until Christmas Eve when my brother was due, so we could push it out. Hey, the guy fought a train and won, so a minivan is no big deal.
Tow Truck In A Box is a set of four aircraft-grade aluminum plates with bladed ridges. You’re supposed to put them under your tires — linked together or alone — and use them to get traction and drive out. So I tried them. And fuck me if they didn’t work right off the bat. I had to adjust them once or twice, but in five minutes I was free of the ice and slush and good to go. The plates? Not a scratch.
Next up was The Magic Bullet. This is a cup-sized blender that you sort of tap to make it work. I’ve only used it once, to make a smoothie on Christmas morning. It was lightning quick, and did the job nice and fast. We have a blender attachment for The Food Processor Of The Gods, but it takes forever to haul all the components out and set it up. This thing is quick and easy. I doubt I’ll use it often, but when I do, I’ll like it.
And finally: Slap Chop. I’ve been laughing at Slap Chop infomercials for a long time, and so have you, but now that I have one, I’m happy with it. It isn’t some piece of TV schlock, despite its cheap plastic construction. It’s a simple mechanism and it works, and I like using it, because I hate food prep, but I like to make food. I used it tonight to add veggies to my frozen pizzas, and it took all of 30 seconds.
Two minutes after I opened it, I dumped some mixed nuts on the dining room table, slapped, and said “You’re gonna love my nuts.” You may think I was riffing on Vince’s infomercial, but really, I’ve been saying that for years, which may explain why Inflatable Batman never showed up.