2011-04-14 / News

Flyers a captive audience for oddball products

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

I fly fairly frequently.

There are a couple of must-do activities I enjoy each time I take to the skies. Admittedly these activities are designed to keep me occupied during takeoff, when I am most likely to feel queasy, and in the succeeding hours, when I am like a two-year-old and just want to get out of my seat.

The first thing I do — even before we leave the ground — is take out the airline magazine and do the crossword puzzle. This lasts me just long enough to get up to cruising altitude. The puzzles in the airline mags are designed for average puzzlers, like myself, so completing one is something most of us can do without breaking a sweat. I feel smart when I am done, which takes my mind off flying.

The next thing I like to do is read the SkyMall magazine, cover to cover. I don’t like to miss a single page because I think I might discover a miracle product to make my life better.

Have you seen this magazine? It’s pretty clear that it is compiled for stressed out, middle-aged business people who would rather be doing anything other than flying. Like bird watching or playing with their dogs. Based on the lineup of products for sale, everyone must have aching backs, frequent headaches, bad feet and a gnawing desire to lay by a pool.

To combat stress there is not one, but two different head massaging devices for sale in the current edition. The bargain one is the Head Spa Massager at $49.95, a silver metallic helmet, which makes the wearer look like a Roman gladiator. It boasts a rechargeable battery and 15 massage points that you can use “in front of the TV after a long day.”

The other option is the Head & Eye Massager, which is a blackand white helmet that covers the entire head and eye area — it makes one look like a Stormtrooper from Star Wars. This device, at $199, purports to relieve stress and headaches and goes further with its “high frequency magnetic fields that stimulate pressure points to encourage vigor and mental clarity.”

OK, sounds good, but the only way you can use this ridiculouslooking thing is in the utmost private location, like a lonely hotel room. There are still more massaging devices available, if those two aren’t enough.

One day my husband and I were flying together and I asked him to go through the magazine and try to pick out something to buy for me. I did the same for him. We didn’t actually buy these items, but it was fun trying to come up with something we would actually use. He picked out a doughnut-making machine, which looked like a contraption in the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” I bought him a device that improves your golf swing by hanging a black pendulum off your forehead. Try this activity next time you fly with your spouse — it’s great for a few laughs.

There are several options for us baby boomers who can’t see anymore and there is even one I’m considering buying. It’s a pair of reading glasses with built-in LED lights at the temples that shine directly on a book or magazine. At only $69, the stylish tortoise-shell frames can be worn with the lights off when you want to look “normal.” But for close sewing, needlework, fly-tying and other similar activities, I think these folks are on to something.

Balding men must be very gullible or there wouldn’t be so many products geared to them. At just $499 the i-Restore laser hair dome is a doozy. It’s a white plastic ring that fits around the head — just above the eyes — while another part floats back and forth over the top of the head beaming red lights at various parts of your bald pate. If you don’t have 500 bucks to spend on the dome, there’s the bargain option: the HairMax LaserComb at just $459!

The big difference here is that the comb has to be run through the hair by the user, while the dome does the work for you. There are also supplements to take to “undo the causes of gray hair at the cellular level.” Yeah, right!

For those folks on the road who miss their pets, there are dozens of products just for them. Cozy, fluffy beds, electronic pet drinking fountains and a product to toilet train your cat. There’s the canine genealogy kit, at $60, which will tell you what kind of mutt you have — a Labra-poo-uaua — or something like that.

Okay, I’m getting out my credit card because there’s something I actually need here — a small GPS device that fits on a keychain and can tell you within five yards where you parked your car at the mall. I love it! I want one.

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