I get the darnedest Catalogs

I get the darnedest catalogs. How did I get on the mailing lists? Take, for example, the latest catalog specializing in New Age health products. One item that jumped out at me was the Stress-Free Chair. Picture an office chair with a 20-inch diameter, black, inflatable ball as the seat. Imagine the comments you would get from colleagues or your spouse if this chair showed up in your office or home? Think for a moment of the comments you wouldn’t hear!

A physical therapist once suggested I try sitting on one of those large exercise balls while working at the PC at home. Yes, I bought one at her suggestion for other exercises. The problem was it wasn’t tall enough. I felt like a gnome paying homage to the great PC, my head thrown back in order to see the screen above (darned bifocals!), legs splayed out to keep from falling off, arms arched up to peck at the chest-high keyboard like some demented pianist. It just didn’t work.

Another item from the catalog that caught my eye were the socks with reflexology points printed on the soles. You know about reflexology, massage points on the bottoms of your feet; a roadmap of relief for all sorts of ailments. Of course, this assumes you can actually see the bottoms of your feet. I suppose you could get them for yourself and have your loved one work on your tootsies. This would make me uncomfortable. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t mind massaging my wife’s feet, but I can’t see me donning the socks and asking her if she would mind massaging number 7. I can imagine a future issue of the catalog featuring a body suit printed with acupuncture points, a complete set of needles, bottle of alcohol and instructional DVD, American “Do It Yourself” meets Asian medicine.

Of course how could one practice Yoga or Pilates without the right meditative stools, blocks, mats, pillows, inflatable balls, sandals, socks, relaxing, soothing emollients, esoteric stress relief aromas, healing cultural rhythms, pure silk or all natural cotton (is there an unnatural cotton?) pants and jackets, shape enhancing leotards and unitards. What are unitards? Is there a Tard?

I confess I would like to have one of the Tibetan, 7-metal, singing bowls. I saw one at a spa in Austria. They don’t actually sing. They set the bowl in various places on the body and someone rubs the inside edge with a special wooden stick. The seven metals combine in an amalgam to emit ringing therapeutic frequencies that work their way through mysterious pathways to help heal what ails you. I wouldn’t use it for that. It would make an interesting popcorn bowl though.

Pilates looks interesting. I especially like the pictures of the waif-like practitioners in their unitards and leotards. One look at the pictures of these lovely, lithe, thin models using the equipment in a sunny room larger than our house, one whole wall overlooking an incredibly blue Pacific, tempts me to buy something. Plus, it would be healthy, wouldn’t it?

Say you break down and buy this stuff. Where do you put it when the moment of truth arrives via UPS? Into cramped bedrooms, over-filled dens, stuffed living rooms, car defying garages? And can you comfortably use it without that view of the Pacific? Of course, there is a catch. Dressing in unitards, listening to healing cultural rhythms and sniffing esoteric stress relief aromas just isn’t going to do it. To get into shape, you have to actually exercise. Regularly. Really.

We used to call catalogs like this “wish books”. What I wish is that I looked as lithe and healthy as the models. I suspect most recipients have that wish. We’ve probably never been in good shape to begin with, but have always dreamed we could. Dreams are nice. And catalogs like these have a place. If they weren’t selling the stuff of dreams, they wouldn’t be in business. Search eBay and you will find the detritus of other people’s dreams; cheaper, and practically unused. I got my Nordic Track at a church-run second hand store, for $25, a savings of over $300! Now, if I can just find a tard that fits, and the time to use it.

Retired ex-teacher, ex-geophysicist