I do believe that I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want a job that requires me to sit on my couch all day long, drinking coffee and watching the shopping channels. Oh, and instead of getting paid a regular salary, I want to be compensated with products sold on the shopping channels. I believe this would be a fine career and one that I’m amply qualified to do since over the past few days alone I have logged many happy hours in front of all of the shopping channels our cable package carries and have come perilously close to buying fleece lined leggings (guaranteed not only to keep my legs warm but also to compress my chunky thighs in the process) as well as skin products that swore to turn back the hands of time and change me from a middle-aged frump into a, well, I’m not sure what they would turn me into but what whatever it is will be trim, unwrinkled and almost unbearably happy.
It’s hard to believe that I once turned up my nose at the shopping channels and wondered what kind of mind could spend hours watching people hawk overpriced products that were about as necessary to everyday life as a fur lined mouse trap. Now, older and so much wiser, I know better. Now, not only do I want almost every single thing sold on the shopping channels (especially a dream of a recliner lined with memory foam that heated up, vibrated and apparently sang lullabies to you if programmed correctly), I have also begun to view most of the hosts as my close and personal friends. Close and personal friends who are peppy and cheerful at five in the morning, commiserate with the viewers over the aches and insults of getting older and are outrageously optimistic. Only an outrageous optimist could claim that no matter what kind of credit history a viewer might have he or she can still afford to purchase new boots in every colored offered without feeling any kind of morning after financial regret. And only a completely outrageous optimist could go on to say that not only will the lucky consumer be able to pay off the boots within a decade or two, he or she can also get an exclusive credit card with the shopping channel that will let him or her buy even more. I love that kind of positive thinking.
But as much as I like the hosts and the products, the main reason I tune into the shopping channels is to watch when there is a beauty product show airing and a real life, average, every day kind of person is getting magically made over into Heather Locklear’s doppelganger. I don’t know where the shopping networks find people who are willing to be transformed but there always seems to be a steady supply of willing victims. The transformees typically sit in a row three across with no make-up, unadorned hair and the most unflattering lighting this side of hell. They are usually female and they almost always look like they’ve just been arrested for some heinous and truly embarrassing crime, only this isn’t a police lineup and the only crimes they are guilty of having are flat hair, crow’s feet or sagging jowls.
The salesperson starts out by saying something semi-nice such as, “Now, here’s Susan. Susan has such pretty eyes and good bones but as you can plainly see, her hair has absolutely no life at all.” Then the stylist starts working Susan over like a heavyweight taking on a flyweight. Within seconds Susan’s fine, stringy hair has been transformed into something that Victoria Principal sported on “Dallas” back in 1983. “See how much better Susan looks?” the stylist demands. “Look at her before and after picture!” The screen splits and the audience is treated to Susan’s “before” photo—a charming portrait where every line on her face is harshly lit and her pathetic hairstyle resembles faded stripes painted on a basketball—smack dab next to her “after photo”—a smiling, shining vision of big hair along with an even bigger smile.
Along with wondering where the producers find these women, it is also a mystery to me how Susan can keep on grinning as her hair is tugged, her skin is pulled and her ego is punctured. There should be at least a few tears of pain as the stylists are never exactly gentle as they push and prod their clients but each woman maintains an impressive stoicism that makes me wonder if they aren’t up for some kind of beauty product sainthood granted by Our Lady of Max Factor. By the end of each transformation I feel like I’ve been worked over as well but I have to say that it makes darn entertaining television.
So that is the job I want: professional shopping network viewer who is more than willing to rate each product while providing valuable viewer feedback, all from the comfort of my memory foam lined recliner.