My husband bought one of those dumbbells that needs to be shaken in order to sculpt muscles. It’s called the Shake Weight, an intuitive moniker that tells you all you really need to know about it yet everyone describes the apparatus by its peculiar function.
If you tell someone that you bought a Shake Weight, they’ll ask you what it is, but if you identify it as “that dumbbell you shake,” people nod with recognition. You can see in their eyes that they’re recalling the advertisement featuring a middle-age male model who we are subliminally led to believe was a CPA who weighed 98 pounds and ate TV dinners alone before shaking his way to the ironlike physique we see before us.
Other men develop muscles through rigorous exercise or toiling in a field, but not this man. He alone adds heft by purchasing a fitness apparatus marketed on late-night television in between commercials for Astrologist Experts and Lonely Singles In Your Zip Code.
I noticed my husband, Greg, watching the infomercial one night while I was writing. My concentration was interrupted by a joyful voice emanating from the television. I peered over my laptop screen to see the Shake Weight model proselytizing to the masses with his glowing testimonial.
I glanced at Greg on the opposite sofa, ready to share a laugh, when I noticed he had a cloudy glaze over his eyes. He stared unblinking at the screen, his hand wrapped around Pirate’s Booty, frozen before reaching his mouth. He silently admired the newly bemuscled man and his friend in a bikini that we’re meant to believe he is sexually involved with.
It was obvious that Greg was being lifted into the As Seen On TV mothership through a tractor beam of poorly shot before-and-after photos.
While I was fixated on the terminology employed by anyone peddling fraudulent merchandise, such as “satisfaction guaranteed,” Greg was falling prey to an unspoken personal narrative:
My name is Stan. At least it was before I started using the Shake Weight for 6 minutes a day. Now my name is Tom Brady. Not the Tom Brady who throws footballs, but the Tom Brady who has pectoralis definition and sleeps with a long-legged blonde from some country other than America. I used to sit in a cubicle and make my own seven-layer dip that I would bring to work on denim Fridays. I used to make $19,000 a year and couldn’t afford to buy the gym membership that my only friend at work, Sayid, recommended to help boost my confidence with women. But then I found the Shake Weight and started vibrating my way into a whole different life. I left my job and began traveling around the world with nothing but a pedometer and a Shake Weight in my carry-on bag. I climbed the Pyramids, traversed the Great Wall, and scaled the Seven Summits all while giving my biceps the best workout they’ve ever had. Once the videos of me using the Shake Weight while scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef went viral, I began a very lucrative career as a motivational speaker and Shake Weight spokesperson, consulting to the Fortune 500 CEOs in need of definition and strength building, which is basically all of them. When I’m not shaking my forearms, I’m giving people all of races and creeds a reason to keep on living.
“Are you going to buy it all in one convenient low price or break it up into four easy low payments?” I snidely asked, shattering the telepathic conversation between Greg and the television.
“That’s just like to you rush to a snap judgment without even trying something,” he replied.
“You’d better hurry then because there’s only 20 left.”
He didn’t actually purchase one through the ready and waiting telephone representative, but he did find one for sale at our local sundries store. I can only hope that he didn’t have the pharmacist assess his blood pressure first to ensure his heart was ready for exercise.
He has been using it several times a day, mostly in front of the television, where I assume the Shake Weight model appears during timeouts in NBA games to soldier him through the six minutes. I’ve tried it myself, but the movement makes me feel like the homicidal employee at a fast-food restaurant whose job it is to squirt the sour cream gun.
It hasn’t brought spoils, travel and optimism to our lives, but it has ushered in a lot of humor. And whiplash.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast, where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog I’m Gonna Kill Him. Follow her misadventures on http://imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.