Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Materialistic Mission at 35,000 Feet

For anyone who knows me, its no secret that I like to travel. Yet what my Facebook wall (plastered with dozens of shiny, happy photos of me in front of major world landmarks) doesn't reveal is that I'm actually a pretty nervous flyer. Each and every time my plane lifts into the sky, the turbulence unintentionally sparks frantic (albeit silent) prayers within me, as I anxiously reassure myself of my salvation. Such freak-out moments, however, present a real problem when it comes to saving face in front of my seatmate. Because, as all good Evangelical Christians know, sitting next to a stranger on a plane is always a "divine appointment" for evangelism.

"Suck it up, sister," I tell myself (recalling to mind the 1 in 11,000,000 odds stacked in my favor), "You've got a job to do... "

Unless the pre-flight atmosphere is super laid back (I was recently on a flight where an attendant told a passenger in the lavatory just before take-off to "Come out with your pants up!" That definitely lightened the mood...), I typically can't bring myself to strike up a conversation until the seat belt sign goes off. In those first five minutes, it helps to imagine I'm Diane Court in Say Anything. Not just because she‘s gorgeous (She is, as Corey says, “a brain..trapped inside the body of a game show hostess"), but because even despite her extreme intelligence, she too is freaked out to fly. Unlike moi, however, Diane has an adorable boyfriend (a young, awkwardly charming John Cusak) to hold her hand until she hears the "Ding!" that assures her all is well. Minus my own tall and nerdy BF, I am reduced to skimming through Skymall to assuage my frenzied nerves.

I'd like to think the mastermind behind Skymall was not so much a businessman as your average Joe who shares my fear of flying and affinity for randomness. Why else would you have a catalogue full of completely unnecessary Jetsons-inspired crap on every domestic flight in America if not simply to make people laugh (and help them ignore the other card in the seat-back pocket)? Unfortunately, as highly as I would like to think of American culture, I know Skymall probably was the venture of an entrepreneur. Because the sad truth is, people actually do buy this stuff. (They must: My grandmother's QVC jewellery collection and my mother's Nu-Wave Oven are proof that people impulsively purchase pointless things from infomercials all the time. And the way I see it, Skymall is like the infomercial channel of the air...).

Lest I digress and start ranting on the rampant lust and materialism that has taken over our "78% Christian" nation (seriously, its like the Tenth Commandment flew entirely out the window), I will stick to the sheer silliness of the products Skymall is peddling. And since my blog is ironically devoted to relational matters, I simply had to discover if there existed any products to assist the potential dater. (After all, in-flight magazines are stacked with dating articles and matchmaking ads, so I didn’t think it was too much of a stretch to look for similar in-flight catalogue commodities). To my dismay, however, when I searched the proverbial shelves of Skymall.com, there was no such label as "Dating Aides." Hmmm. Must get more creative…

Scrolling through the list of obscure items by category, I decided to try my luck at “Therapeutic Products.” (This is a G-rated catalogue, thank you, so don't even go wherever it was you were about to go...). Here I found a few could-be helpful things, including your stereotypical anti-snoring devices (deceive ‘em while you’re dating and divulge the truth after you get the ring) and a hangover remedy (helps for headaches, but not for getting rid of last night’s poor choice of a bed mate. Which, incidentally, is why I avoid getting drunk in the first place…). Also of note in my roundup of randomly romantic items was a bouquet of roses and tulips (not so uniquely titled: “A Dozen Hugs and Kisses”), a cold-sore “zapper” (for those who have had a few too many kisses in their time…), and a boxed-set of Alfred Hitchcock classics (why that one came up in a search for “Dating" is still a mystery. But if it were up to me, I'd hope it had less to do with the fact that watching movies is [yawn] stereotypically synonymous with dating [although classic suspense-y horror would certainly make for a more interesting night than a rom com...], and more to do with the director's very, um, intriguing last name...).

Two products, however, stood out among the pack of possible assistants in the dating market. They were the Magic Derriere Enhancing Panty and the Spypen. Yes, you did in fact read those two titles correctly. (And yes, they are just as hilarious as their names imply). Regarding the first, I would like to apologize for pre-emptively advertising Skymall as a G-rated catalogue (hey, if its there at kid-level on a plane!). Without being inside a guy’s brain, I couldn’t tell you whether actually seeing the butt-lifting panties on the model are as lust-inducing as when the difference is seen on the outside (It’s like seeing a girl in Spanx; an arousing title for what is otherwise known as a girdle. To me, girdle and sexy are not synonymous). Either way, in poor old Magic Panty’s defense, it seems less of a superficial find and more of a practical piece of clothing for the single person set on alluring a member of the opposite sex. (These are not just for women, believe it or not; they created a male version as well! Although I’m pretty sure they ditched the descriptors Magic and Panty and went for something much more rugged-sounding. They might have kept Enhancing in there, though…). Were it not for the fact that I’m pretty happy with the state of my bum these days, I almost lamented the lack of reviews for this particular product. Does it really work? I’m dying to know! One day I'd love to see a TV testimonial where someone attributes the snagging of their super hot spouse to a pair of magic underwear…

And, of course, who can forget the Spypen? I’m fairly certain they just swiped this from Toys R Us and re-marketed it with more mature packaging and classier rhetoric. Still, whether you’re an 11-year old boy seeking to embarrass your teenage sister, or a middle-aged single stalking the girl who dumped you after date #3, privacy-invasion is the name of the game no matter how you slice it. (And I don’t know if one can ever truly be classy having within their possession a product with such a title). Spypen, huh? Well, we do live in a pretty weird world, so I guess this sort of thing could be worth your $129.99 (???). I’ll let the description speak for itself…

“Collecting solid evidence often times requires keen discretion. That's what makes this 8GB Multi-function Sound-Activated Video Camera Pen so remarkable. This Spy Pen will remain in standby mode for up to 166 minutes and then at the first sound record up to 60 minutes of 1280 x 960 resolution video with a date and time stamp"

If I had written the copy for this, I would definitely feel like I had just sold out. Wow…there are no words. Can’t I just let the government play Big Brother (and feign ignorance) instead of worrying that my seatmate on the plane might now want to take on that role as well?

Oh yeah, my seatmate...

Damn. I was supposed to be witnessing, wasn’t I?

See...this is what happens when you succumb to the seduction of shopping!!!!!!!

Oh well, I guess there’s always next time. With open seating on Southwest, I'll just keep an eye out at the gate for a potentially lost soul, "casually" settle myself into the seat next to them and gear up for some good, old-fashioned "What's the meaning of life?" Q&A.

I’ve got this whole spiel about how materialism is bad and it distracts us from our true purpose on earth. I’ll see how that one works out...  ;)

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