We diverted our attention for just a brief moment and in the blink of an eye they were gone. (Well, not entirely gone; just not as ubiquitous as they once were.) In the past, when sleeplessly tossing and turning well past midnight, I have gotten out of bed, gone to the kitchen for a snack, and settled down in front of the living room TV and watched my choice of several late-night infomercials.
The people were so friendly, so eager to help, so positive, so intent on sharing their discoveries. I loved them all. In the studio, the small audience of invited participants nodded excitedly with every claim. None of them walked out or even rolled their eyes in skepticism. They showed us a perfect world. Any late-night viewer in a dark, silent house, dressed in his jammies and gnawing on a cold chicken leg, was certain to benefit from whatever they were selling.
But for the past year, I could not find any broadcast at the times I was up. The late-night programs I had to chose from consisted of ancient re-runs of Welcome Back, Kotter, repeat news programs recorded earlier in the evening, and old, bad, movies. I love old movies, but not the Bowery Boys. Most of the late-night movies shown are only meant to provide movement on the TV screen for an hour or so. Nobody watching at that late hour cares about the content.
But I have recently found the infomercials again: the joys of a pressure cooker, a cream to cure “creepy skin,” free seminars on how to make a fortune in real estate. Whatever is your problem, someone has the answer—in four easy payments, shipping and handling not included (or even divulged).
My favorite is when they say order one and they will send a second one for free, just pay a separate shipping and handling fee. Surprise! taking one off the shelf and sending it to you will cost more than making it.
They are all on Sunday morning public TV, just as I remembered them—just as clearly as I remember those good old days when public TV had no advertisements.