Remember the ShamWow guy on TV? Our family does. Erin and I were laughing this morning about some of the funny things our girls have asked for at Christmas, and ShamWow is right up there with them.
Back in the day before DVR we were only faced with a couple of terrible options when commercials came on:
- Continue watching them.
- Engage in meaningful conversation with loved ones, and
- Get off our sorry rear ends and exercise, if only by walking to the refrigerator.
Our television was situated in the living room upstairs, which meant that whatever we watched our children also had access to. When Arwen was little her favourite show was “Homes on Homer”, which your undoubtedly nimble mind will translate to “Holmes on Homes” and “The Simpsons”. I was later told by my wife that I was no longer allowed to watch Simpsons partially because of its views on Viet Nam, but mostly because one day Arwen shouted from her room “WHERE’S MY FREAKING SOOTHER??”, which Erin assumed came from the Simpsons (it did).
Also it should be pointed out that the Simpsons likely had no views on Viet Nam, and Erin’s ultimatum had nothing to do with Viet Nam, but the line in question came from a Simpsons episode which I still think is funny.
If you are confused just be glad you don’t have to (get to) live with me.
Picture this: Erin and I in the living room watching TV, the inevitable ShamWow commercial coming on (“It’s like a shammy, a towel and a sponge! This is for the house, the car, the boat, the RV! Made in Germany, you know the Germans always make good stuff! Olympic divers, they use it as a towel.”) Ad nauseam (clever, that).
And it was like a magnet for Arwen and Ailish. They would come running, poke their cute little heads around the corner tilted to one side in intense concentration, and stare. Oh the power of the funny little man wearing the headset! What an enchantment he could weave with words into the hearts of my daughters. It mattered not that he was advertising the most ridiculous of products. He could do no wrong. It went from curiosity to a fascination, nay to a duty for the girls to experience the power of ShamWow for themselves!
Grandma was over one day and summed it up best “THAT man should have been a Kindergarten teacher!”
Jealous would Circe have been to hold this kind of sway over the hearts of Odysseus’ men, no words of Saruman could have convinced Gandalf the Grey to succumb to purchasing a ShamWow (“The house! The car. The boat! Your horse Shadowfax!”)
A natural sales person is a joy to watch, unless you have your wallet with you. They somehow pull you into their sheer joy of life, excitement, disbelief that this product could still be available to mere mortals. Witness a vacuum salesman in his (or her) element. “Ma’am” they might say “You deserve so much more, just look at how much more this new vacuum picked up that your previous- third world- unhygienic- infant hating- low budget unit missed completely! What your neighbours must think of you, and rightly so!!”
I came home in the early years of our marriage and Erin was flushed with the joy of a recently departed vacuum salesman. Firstly it should be noted that Erin is a salesman’s dream because: (A) It worked when I asked her to marry me (Ice to Eskimos is the only way to describe that, if I’m still allowed to use that phrase), (B) She somehow still trusts deeply in the human race, and (C) She feels obligated to the under dog. (Any salesperson who only eats what they sell would qualify.)
“Corey! Look how much our vacuum missed! I know I shouldn’t have listened, but it really is an incredible machine! It’s made in Germany, and you know the Germans make good stuff (this might be similar to the Viet Nam thing, but just follow me for a minute camera guy), and he can only offer it to us at this price until the end of the day! What do you think???”
As near as I can remember (and I have a terrible memory), here’s what I would have done:
I would have blinked slowly.
I would have said in a singsong “Hi Corey, so glad you’re home! Thanks for working hard for us:)”
Erin: “Sorry, hi! I hope you had a good day.”
Me slowly: “What are we talking about and how much?”
Erin: “A man came to the door with an opportunity!”
I would have blinked slowly again and said “A vacuum salesman?”
Erin starting to get a feel for what actually happened: “I guess that’s what he was?”
Me: “How much?”
Erin: “Weeeeeeell, you see, it’s incredibly made, and it’s normally much more expensive, but he can only offer it at this price for…”
Me interrupting now: “How much?” (I never decide I like something until I know HOW MUCH???)
Erin starting to realize what percentage of our annual budget the steal- of- a- deal actually represented, wincing now slightly, quietly: “(Fifteen hundred dollars)”, then “But it’s NORMALLY ____, and he can only offer it for another ____ before it’s back to normal price and _____, _____, and ____”
I would have blinked slowly and smiled in disbelief: “Babe…”
Now we all have our soft targets, but vacuums I could care less about. If we’re talking vehicles I do get a little worked up and need to be talked off the ledge from time to time.
That Christmas we asked our girls what they wanted and the only thing they could think of was “ShamWows!!!”
So we laughed and asked again, then the sales pitch started.
“Dad! We could use them on the house (have), the car (have), the boat (will never have), the RV (will likely never have)!”
It turns out that they learned how to sell from the odd little ShamWow guy, that or I’m susceptible to their tiny charms. Did we buy them ShamWows? Yes. Were they excited? You have no idea. Did they ever use them? No. Do we still have them? Probably.
Here was the clincher for me…
“But dad, we’re throwing away twenty dollars every month on paper towels!”