Monday, October 10, 2011

For Two Easy Payments of $19.95

I admit it. I have bought my share of drek over the years, and apparently I have not learned my lesson. Even though I have banned myself from watching QVC – except when Joan Rivers is selling her jewelry, I still manage to buy the occasional piece of crap for only two easy payments of $19.95. And, have you ever noticed the only time you buy that crap is when you least can afford it? You said yes, didn’t you? 

Remember that thing you plugged into your wall and it used the wiring in your house to get you free cable? I bought one. The only station I got was the Fidel Castro Channel directly from Havana. Remember Deal-a-Meal from Richard Simmons? I dealt all my meals for the week by Tuesday at 10:15 am. There was this cream that was supposed to knock ten years off your face. Oh it knocked them off all right, along with seven layers of skin. I looked like a burn victim for a month.

I bought the wallet that was supposed to organize all your cards and IDs, etc. Everyone asked me why I was carrying a lady’s billfold. I bought that glove for grooming the dog. All it did was annoy her. There was the cup holder you attached to your car door that knocked the can of soda in your lap every time you hit a bump. There were those things for hanging pictures on the wall that could easily be removed by pulling a tab. They removed half the wall.

In my defense, I learned these buying habits from my father. He was the king of buying drek. Ironically, whenever you bought something, he would always say, “How much did they get you for that?” He thought the whole world was getting ripped off. I bought a new car and rather than congratulations, he said, “How much did they get you for that?” This was a man who bought a Desoto and a Corvair … and don’t get me started on his long string of crappy Fords.

He once bought this vegetable protein powder you were supposed to add to food to make it last longer or be more filling or as filler or as a supplement. I never did figure it out. He bought a case of it. I think it was the same soy protein additive that was popular in the 1970s that school cafeteria’s added to their hamburger meat. Well, we poured it on our meat, and let’s just say the only thing it added was more time on the bowl.

My dad bought my brother and me ten-speed bikes, and he never let us forget it (to this day whenever someone buys me a gift, I expect to hear about it for twenty years). The bikes, which were orange and called Fiorellis, were from Italy, complete with Italian directions. But that wasn’t Italian he was screaming while trying to assemble them. I think he bought them from one of his shady friends, of which there were a few. Apparently, they fell off the back of the truck.

We had a friend whose parents completely furnished their house with stuff that fell off the back of the truck. His father always had ten watches up his sleeve and three around his ankle he would sell you for the right price.

According to my father, Uncle Stanley, his brother, was worse. If a man was standing in back of a truck on a street corner and said, “Psst, come here.” Uncle Stanley was sure to buy whatever he was selling. I would always think of Lucy Ricardo in the butcher shop trying to sell that side of beef when he would tell me this story.

My most recent purchase worthy of the “Drek Hall of Fame” was an item that was supposed to make water sealing my deck a breeze. I had been looking forward to sealing my deck for a while. When I moved in, it was “green,” and I was instructed to wait eight to ten weeks before sealing it.

However, by week ten, we were in the middle of two hurricanes and a five-day stretch of rain that dumped twenty inches on us. My deck was becoming a sponge, and I was desperate. We then endured another month of rain until the few days before Yom Kippur. According to the Thompson’s Water Seal directions, I needed three days before and three days after for proper application and drying.

I read that while standing in Lowe’s and deciding which product to buy. Next to the cans of water seal was this plastic device for spraying on the water seal for even coverage and less mess, and it sold for $19.95! I looked it over, and it resembled a pesticide dispenser. Rather than scrutinize its construction, I was mesmerized by those magic numbers: $19.95. I bought it. But knowing my history and just in case I had done it once again, I bought an extra can of water seal, a cheap roller, a brush and a paint tray.

The older, wiser me always has a backup plan.

The time had come for me to water proof my first deck! I was excited. I put the dispenser together and filled it with Thompson’s Water Seal. Then I pumped it as the instructions said to get the sealant to flow throw the hose, so I could begin sealing.

I pumped and I pumped, but no sealant was making its way through the hose. I didn’t understand this. I have been told I have magic hands and can get any hose to fill then spill. Had I lost my touch?

Apparently, I had not lost my touch, but I did manage to do something else. I water sealed my walkway. That lovely little dispenser had split in half along the bottom and let out a full can of sealant. I didn’t even get mad. I rolled my eyes, hosed off the walkway, pulled out the paint tray, roller and brush and proceeded to do the deck the old fashioned way.

My projects always seem to end up this way. The easy way ends up being a disaster, and the old fashioned way saves the day.

I should never buy anything with a price tag of $19.95.

Will I ever learn?

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