SMOKE: Verimark Loneliness
Originally published: 17 June 2005
I heard a story yesterday about somebody who is a Verimark devotee - she believes 100 percent in all products that get marketed under the Verimark label, in particular those ridiculous weight loss patches and other dietary products.
This chick is convinced that all those products - from the Big Green Clean Machine to Durablades to Bioslim to the Tummy Cruncher - are legitimate, good, decent products, and she spends a lot of money buying them.
That's not the sad part - the sad part is that she obviously also spends an immense amount of time watching those nauseatingly repetitive commercials.
Filled with bodybuilding monsters who were once supposedly so fat they couldn't walk, who got huge muscles and ripped and healthy and fit simply by wearing a thin piece of paper on their forearm for two days.
Or enthusiastic, fit chicks who are stuffed into tight-fitting leotards to accentuate their breasts - breasts which are guaranteed to distract you from the price of the product involved. Breasts which demand you buy the product being marketed. Breasts which have nipples designed specifically to appear as excited as you should be. Which you are. Which is why you buy some crap product that doesn't work.
It's all about the breasts.
You also get celebrities endorsing products, shamelessly defiling their names (which I suppose weren't all that A-List in the first place, unless you put Isabel Jones or George Foreman on your list of fave celebs), and every single commercial is filled with repetitive, carefully-scripted propaganda and smiling, positive, happy people. With big nipples.
But damn me if I haven't felt the pull before. I watched those commercials to see how I could debunk the information being spewed out and when it's hard to see how the product could be a dud it becomes a very attractive thing.
I've purchased Durablades before, and unlike the fantastic claims in the commercial they don't fit every car. They sure didn't fit mine.
I've also purchased a multi-piece tool set which has served me well, and if I'd had the money the Big Green Clean Machine would have been mine.
Are you wondering how I can be moaning about some woman who loves her Verimark and a few paragraphs later be sharing all the Verimark products I've bought with you, not to mention divulging what looks suspiciously like a lot of inside information on the very home shopping I'm apparently deriding?
Sure you are. I have an explanation, of course, and feeling all smarmy - here it is.
In 1997 my back finally caved in. Stukkend, china. I had a disc ripped out and bone carved from my hip, which was stitched into my spine by two huge steel bolts that reside in my back today, creaking slightly in winter.
No small operation by any stretch of the imagination.
My recovery in hospital was hell, although made a lot more comfortable by the fact that I could go to a private hospital on account of my medical aid.
I could only lie flat on my back and I'm not someone who enjoys sleeping or lying on my back. I have to be on my side, but for over a week I was stuck on my back, staring into nothingness.
Or rather - staring at the television screen mounted high above, which was on all day.
In 1997 there was nothing else on in the day - it was all Verimark marketing. I could have watched Japanese cartoons dubbed into Sesotho but even I have to have my limits. I really do.
So for a week and a half I lay there watching those commercials and it was the loneliest time of my life. Tashi visited me every day and I got plenty of other visitors, but seeing them was almost worse because when they left - and I turned to watch my Verimark products - the loneliness and pathetic nature of my situation took hold of me like never before.
There's something about being completely unable to walk that is frightening in its loneliness, and just like the song that was playing the first time you made love - Verimark will always be associated with that loneliness.
The big product of the day was the Big Green Clean Machine, and after days and days of it being repeated numerous times a day, all I ever needed, wanted or had to have came in the form of that beautiful machine.
I dreamed of it, craved it, longed for it - I had to have my Big Green Clean Machine. I felt like such a girl and I didn't care - I wanted someone to mess my house up as badly as they could, and I wanted to clean that damn mess up.
I thought of all those other people out there, sitting in their lonely homes watching those lonely commercials in the middle of a Tuesday. I understood their excitement at what they were watching and I felt their need to buy Big Green Clean Machines.
We all shared a secret - that thing really, truly worked! We knew how corny we were being watching and we all knew we were being sold to, but we also knew that corny and irritating as it was that machine was everything they said it was - and more.
The Big Green Clean Machine became my God. It would lead me triumphantly through the Valley of Death and no fear would I feel. It would take me to Jupiter and Mars and beyond and it would solve every problem I'd ever had - it would save me. I was its slave and we both knew it.
Once I got out of hospital the residual effects were immense. I begged and begged for a Big Green Clean Machine. I was like a drug addict denied. The only thing that stopped me stealing my wife's jewellery and selling the car was the fact that for six months I couldn't walk properly, much less go anywhere.
The images faded over time to be replaced with an emptiness where once there had been hope, and I doubt I've been the same since that winter back in '97.
The Big Green Clean Machine obviously didn't save the world and since I've never met anyone who has one I doubt it was the revolution the marketers said it was. If it was - how come we don't all have one in our homes?
I've never watched the home shopping channels since those days of miracle and wonder, although occasionally I will catch a glimpse of one as I flick through channels.
And when I see them I momentarily feel that connection to all those other lonely souls out there, sitting and believing and dreaming and hoping and dying inside if not dead already.
I clutch my scarf a little tighter around my neck, and edge an inch closer to the fire.
All Smoked Out,