Quiet Desperation

If you call right now, it's understandable

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted

This column is a $49.99 value, but if you read it within the next 10 minutes it's yours absolutely free.

You have seen those ads. Something is a $49.99 value - determined by whom? - but if you call RIGHT now (it's 3 a.m.), it's yours at a huge discount.

But we're not through. If you call right away, we'll send you two for the price of one, plus a set of crummy steak knives, a couple of cheap stick-on lights, and some Ankle Genies.

The dachshund and I stare at the screen and wonder who surrenders to these advertisements. Here in Colorado, possibly some of those who are celebrating Amendment 64.

I will admit, later, to being tempted by one of them.

Everything being sold is indispensable and invariably easy to clean up. There is something called a Bacon Wave, which is stackable, which means that you can cook up to 28 pieces of bacon at once. That's a lot of bacon.

The only problem is that you have to fit the bacon into little cranberry red or harvest gold slots. Who wants to do that on Sunday morning?

A No!no! is neither a razor nor a laser. It is a long-term hair removal device. Before you order one, take a look at the reviews on Amazon. Out of 470, there are 306 one-star reviews. The Better Business Bureau has received over 180 formal complaints about the product in the past three years.

I have a confession to make.

Smoke alarms and I do not get along. They are a pain in the neck. I need to get up on a ladder. But first I have to identify which one is going off, signaling a low battery. They are little ventriloquists.

So I came up with The Lo-Cator, an alarm that would have a light that blinked when the battery needed to be replaced. I looked into a patent, and received the paperwork from the U.S. Patent Office.

I had the idea but I didn't have the specifications or a diagram, nothing. So I contacted one of those invention outfits that will take your idea and fill in the blanks and come up with specs and even an ad campaign, with targeted outlets, from print to late-night television.

All you have to do is give them a raft of money.

My memory is a bit dim, like a weak battery in a smoke alarm, but I think I had to give the patent office some money simply to apply, and some money to the invention company, just to see if the product had potential.

I conceded that I was in over my head, and shut it all down. The invention company, however, did not want to let me go, and I received daily phone calls and emails.

If I had the money back then, you would probably have a half-dozen Lo-Cators in your home right now.

It was not one of the brightest periods of my life. Artists spend a lot of money in an attempt to make money, but it rarely happens. And here I was adding expenses to those expenses.

I was going to tell you about the commercial that actually has tempted me. Garden hoses that grow to 25 feet or more and then shrivel up to the size of something you could put in your watch pocket.

My hose is rubber and irascible and weighs heavily on the lawn and is a nuisance to roll up. It is very reliable, however. I have been using it for over 30 years. But it may be time to order "the hose that grows. "

"As seen on TV" ads represent the dreams of a lot of people, and for a limited time only I am going to applaud them.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.