Crazy things you can buy in one catalogue

I’m a fan of Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalogue.

I am also a fan of stuff that Hammacher Schlemmer sells in its catalogue. Everything I’ve ever purchased from them works and lasts forever. (I did not buy the flying life-sized fire-breathing dragon or I wouldn’t have lasted forever.)

It’s a treat to read through their catalogue.

For the longest time, Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalogue was the only one I got.

Then the other day a catalogue called “Whatever Works” arrived in my mailbox. I’ve gone through it several times. There’s nothing I want to buy but I do have some questions about certain items — questions along the lines of “What? Are you nuts?”

For one thing, it seems that an unreasonable number of items play into or even stimulate people’s fears.

I’m looking at something called Protect Your Identity! “Don’t Be Victimized by Identity Theft!” It purports to be a “security stamp” which you roll over something containing your confidential information — address, SSN, account number, etc. The stamp rolls out a “special pattern” that makes your confidential information “completely unreadable.”

I’m looking at the photo. Yes, whatever lies beneath that pattern is completely unreadable. But…why? I can’t read it, sure, but neither can you. What do you roll this over? Your bank account info? Under what circumstances would you want to do this?

The thesis seems to be someone is standing next to you all the time looking at your information. This device makes no sense whatsoever unless you’re a not very bright terrorist.

Talking Scale Tells You Your Weight! You’ve got to be kidding. The whole point of having a scale (I do not) is not to see the weight clearly. You want to squint downward, take a stab at the numbers and then choose the ones that please you.

Keep Toothpicks in Their Pecking Order! Involves a container and what they call a “comical woodpecker” which picks up a toothpick in its beak. All very sanitary. (Does anyone actually use toothpicks nowadays?)

Then I came to the paranoia section. Portable Security Device for Doors is a complex item that “prevents intruders from entering your room” by jamming up against the door. It would also prevent you from getting out of your room quickly and easily, but never mind. As long as that intruder doesn’t intrude.

Right under that is Looks like a Dictionary…Protects Like aSafe! [sic] Includes two keys.

Then comes Large Fireproof Bag Protects Documents Up to 1,000 Degrees Fahrenheit! and oh boy there’s a picture of this bag engulfed in flames. But not burning up. So it works. I guess.

And then there’s the Hanging Door Alarm, so you can “sleep easy in hotel rooms.” 91-decibels will warn you if someone — like the room service waiter — attempts to open it to deliver your croissants and cafĂ© au lait. (91 decibels is loud, isn’t it? Loud enough to scare the shit out of anybody in earshot.)

And what would you do without the World’s Smallest Stun Gun? It emits 6 million — that’s million — volts “to protect you against attacks.” Also with holster. (“See website for restrictions.” I’ll bet.)

And then in the really pointless category: Detect a Water Leak Before It Becomes a Flood! You put the object (which looks like one of those home devices that talks to you, Alexa or whatever they’re called) on the floor and — here’s the decibel thing again — as soon as “moisture is detected, it alerts you with a loud, 95 dB siren.” Seems to me you’d know there’s a leak because you step in water not belonging in that spot on your floor, but hey, what do I know?

I don’t sit around anticipating leaks, intruders, thieves who would spot a fake dictionary from a mile away, sudden flames, or someone who needs to be stunned with 6 million volts.

In case you are such an anticipatory worrier, the catalogue name is “whatever works.” Oh and there are two full pages of sex toys.

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