I’ve been spending lots of time at the gym lately, and not because I’m suddenly dedicated to fitness, believe me. No. Unlike my house, the gym is air-conditioned. So even though exercise is far from my first-choice activity, I’ve been spending quality time on the treadmill, trying to distract myself from exercise by watching the row of TVs hanging nearby.
If you’ve ever experienced the phenomenon of watching multiple TVs at once, you know how disorienting it can be. Fox News and MSNBC! Right next to each other! Each furiously spinning its own view of reality until our heads threaten to explode! And no workout towel can take care of that mess, I assure you.
But weekends are a whole different matter. Apparently, the weekend afternoon is the hour of the infomercial. I know this because yesterday I spent my entire workout watching Montel Williams transform lives by running broccoli through a blender. As columnist Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Yes, for just four payments of $49.95, you too can create spinach and blueberry smoothies. It! will! change! your! life!
Now, as fascinating as that was, today was even better. Today, Cindy Crawford shared her equally transformative anti-aging skin-care regimen. It was created with a doctor’s help, naturally, from rare melons grown in the oh-so-glamorous South of France. Where else? No sub-par domestic melons for Cindy!
But seriously. I should not make fun. These melons are no laughing matter. These melons are blessed with a rare enzyme containing unparalleled antioxidant properties. We know this because the infomercial shows us actual photos of “before” and “after” melons. The “after” melon — the special French melon with the magical substance — is plump, perky, and fresh-looking. The poor, sad, “before” melon — the ordinary, non-French melon — is droopy, brown and decaying.
Oh, honey. I know just how you feel.
Now, my first suspicion was that, when nobody was looking, somebody slapped some makeup on that “after” melon. Or maybe they switched to more flattering lighting. But I could be wrong. Maybe there’s just a rapidly-aging melon portrait rotting away in the “after” melon’s attic. Anything’s possible, right?
But the “befores” and “afters” didn’t end there. We also saw photos of Cindy Crawford herself: before the treatment, at age 28, and after the treatments, at age 43. She looks exactly the same. This prompted her co-star, the always infomercial-friendly Valerie Bertinelli, to exclaim, “Holy f***ing sh*t, Cindy!” (Though I may be paraphrasing here).
I will say this, though. Those two photos of the non-aging Cindy are pretty damn startling. As a woman of 47, I might have been swayed by them, even tempted to research the products, if I didn’t know about the magical powers of airbrushing and Botox. Oh, yeah, and there’s also this: Even at 28, I didn’t look like Cindy Crawford. I find this oddly liberating. I didn’t look like her then, so why would I expect to look like her now?
Possibly anticipating my skepticism, Cindy pulled out all the stops. She invited us into her home — her home! To meet her family! Yes, her mother, and some sisters too, I think. They talked about how wonderful Cindy is, how kind, and how generous, because she wants to share her secret with the whole world.
Now, I have nothing against Cindy. She seems like a perfectly lovely woman. And she has every right to go into any business that she wants. But can we please not be asked to forget that this is a business? That she is selling these products to make money? There’s no shame in this, as long as we are completely honest about it. See? Was that so hard?
Since we’re now acknowledging that this is a business, I think it’s not indelicate to discuss price. The infomercial was offering a special deal: $39.95 for a one-month supply of Cindy’s products. (Several products are included in the line, I believe, though I’m fuzzy on the details. I may have started to lose focus at this point — I think somebody on Fox News, two TVs over, said something about “death panels for pets” that distracted me).
Depending who you ask, $40 a month could be seen as quite reasonable or as absurdly expensive. Women vary greatly in their ability and willingness to pay for beauty products. I’ve often considered myself fairly middle-of-the-road in this area. However, I recently questioned my own habits while using a coupon to purchase a higher-end, higher-SPF item from Olay’s Regenerist line. The drugstore clerk eyed me with sympathy and said, “Boy, the discount doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re buying that Olay stuff, does it?”
Of course, that product rings in at a lower price than Cindy’s line, and it will last several months. But with all the infomercials I’ve been watching, I’m starting to think there must be a better way. Now that I think of it, Montel Williams’ veggie-and-fruit smoothies are supposed to be high in antioxidants, too. And his badass blender/juicer could be mine, permanently, for just pennies more than five months’ worth of Cindy’s line. Couldn’t I whip up my own antioxidant face masks? After the first five months, we’re talking free skin care, baby! Well, except for the cost of the produce.
But wait: What would stop me from going to the South of France and harvesting my own fancy-pants, French-speaking, anti-aging melons? Sure, the airfare would create a few extra costs, not to mention any court fees that I incur if arrested while trespassing and melon-smuggling. But still, in time, this stuff pays for itself. I’m a genius! I must share this with the world!
Who has a camera? I’ve got an infomercial to make.