Several years ago, during one of my sleepless nights, I watched an infomercial for an Easy Glider exercise machine. The ad showed “before and after” photos of real consumers who had used the Easy Glider to transform their overweight formless shapes into chiseled muscular physiques.
Beautiful young people in colorful tights were smiling and gliding effortlessly, while a long legged svelte blond (a previous cheerleader, no doubt) bounced around each of them pointing out different features on the machines. I knew if I had one of those machines I could be one of those beautiful people.
“And how much weight have you lost so far?” the svelte blond asked one of the beautiful people.
“I lost 65 pounds in five months with my Easy Glider,” she said.
“Folks, you, too, can lose up to five pounds in the first week!” the bouncy blond promised. I wasn’t convinced, but continued watching, because something strange and powerful was happening to me. Watching those gliders go up and down, up and down, I felt my mind losing control and drifting into a trance-like state.
Looking back now, I wonder if those machines were synchronized to create a hypnotic state of mind, as my eyes shifted to follow the movement: back and forth and up and down…back and forth and up and down…up and down…
Next thing I knew the telephone was in my hand and I was reading my VISA credit card number and expiration date to someone on the other end of the line.
The machine arrived on a Saturday afternoon, in a heavy compact box. I had to call my husband to help me carry it into the living room.
“What the hell is this?” he asked.
“It’s a surprise,” I said. “Don’t worry, I can assemble it all by myself. You won’t have to do a thing.”
“What is it?” he asked again.
“It’s an Easy Glider,” I answered excitedly. “It’s like a Nordic Track machine.” The red flush spreading up my husband’s neck was not a good sign.
“Are you kidding me?” he cried out. “Those things are huge! Why didn’t you ask me before you bought something like this? Where are we going to put it?”
“It folds up; I watched the woman on TV do it with one hand. And it has wheels so I can move it around to different rooms in the house.”
“Do you expect me to assemble this thing?” he asked, as I opened the box and parts spilled out onto the living room floor. “This is going to take me all day.”
“No! The TV commercial said it’s easy to assemble. I’m going to do it all by myself!”
“Fine,” he said, throwing his arms up in the air.
“Fine!” I answered, as I began systematically lining up the parts into neat rows. I hoped that he would come back soon and see that I was overwhelmed and offer to help, but that didn’t happen.
At one point, my son poked his head into the room and laughed at the sight of me sitting in the middle of the living room floor, surrounded by all the unassembled parts. “God, mom, this is a mess. What were you thinking?”
After four hours, and a lot of grunting and sweating, I finally had it put together. “Do you guys want to see how this thing works?” I called out to anyone who had an interest in my whereabouts for the day.
Only my son showed up for the great unveiling.
“Wow! That thing is huge, mom! Where the heck are you going to put it?” he asked.
“It’s supposed to have wheels, so I can move it around the house, but they weren’t in the box. I’ll have to call them on Monday. That’s a minor detail,” I said. “For now, just watch this!”
With a big smile on my face, I hopped up on my new Easy Glider and began pumping my arms and legs like those beautiful people in the infomercial. But something was terribly wrong, because the thing started shaking and leaning from side to side like it was made of bendable rubber. It was nothing like the sturdy, perfectly synchronized machine I saw on TV.
“This thing is a piece of crap!” I shouted. My son made a quick about-face and ran out of the room. Some very colorful language accompanied my disassembly of the Easy Glider.
I spent the rest of the day repacking it as best I could. Of course, nothing goes back in the box exactly like it came out, and I went through an entire roll of heavy duty packing tape to hold in the bulges so they wouldn’t explode out the seams of the box.
My husband carried it out to the car, without saying a word, and returned it to the UPS store. We never spoke about the Easy Glider again.