Infomercial hell: Your guide to late-night TV viewing

You know who I feel sorry for? Those poor souls on the night shift who get off work at, say, 2 a.m. and who come home just wanting to relax and wind down by turning on the TV, only to find the same wasteland of nothingness I discovered the other night while on the couch, where I had escaped to after my sleepless 4-year-old daughter came into our room at 2:16 a.m. to (why not?) sing the theme song from “Aladdin.”

You know what’s on TV at 2:30 a.m.? The “Insanity Workout” infomercial. On every channel. On Bravo it’s gay dudes doing sit-ups. On Telemundo it’s dubbed in Spanish. The Christian channel shows a man dressed as Jesus doing cardio-boxing.

Have you seen the “Insanity Workout” infomercial? Of course you haven’t, because you’re sleeping then, and I hate you for that.

It’s one of those home workout regimens designed for those who possess an obsessive compulsive devotion toward obtaining the same body mass index as a cheetah.

This one promised to increase your heart rate, which, at 2:30 in the morning, was the exact opposite of what I wanted my heart rate to do. Yet I suppose I should be happy anything was on TV.  You people over the age of 40 want to feel old? Tell a younger person that TV used to go off at midnight.

Back before the ‘90s, all the TV stations used to sign off at 12 a.m sharp. Looking back, it seems pretty weird. It’s as if the executives from all three networks talked to us like toddlers and said: “OK, America, that’s enough for the day. It’s time to go night-night.”

The only thing on in the wee hours was either a snowy screen or the test pattern — both of which I prefer to what’s on today, because at least you could fall asleep to the test pattern. Not so much the sweet voice of Melissa.

She’s the gorgeous seductive blonde who wanted to “connect with me” (her words exactly), during a late-night commercial for one of those singles chat lines. I’ve always wondered how those phone conversations go exactly.

Operator: Thank you for calling Sexy Local Singles.

Customer: Hi. I’m calling for Melissa.

Operator: I’ll just need a credit card number.

Customer: Credit card? Why? She wanted to chat with me and get to know me, and begin to develop what I naturally assume will eventually become an emotionally fulfilling relationship.

Operator: And I’ll need the 3 digits on the back.

Customer: Hmm. I guess that makes sense. 4 ... 7 ...8 ... 2 ...

In this case, Melissa was (and this is a direct quote), “just waiting for you to call me right now,” which I thought was very flattering. So I did. But she sort of seemed to lose interest when I had trouble finding my credit card. The whole thing may have been just some sort of money-making scam.

Sort of like the many infomercials I saw for hair loss. All of them showed the same before and after shots:

Photo 1: a bald man. Photo 2: A bald man wearing expensive plug-ins.

I was also surprised to still see that cheesy infomercials for music compilations were still around. You know the type: “Sexy Soul Sounds of the ‘70s.” They allow you to pay in just three easy payments. Or C.O.D., which I always thought it meant it came with fish.

I eventually went to sleep, but not before thinking the insomniacs of America are all a bunch of lonely, fat, bald guys who want to hear Marvin Gaye.

Music, workouts, hair restoration products? Show me an infomercial on how to get your 4-year-old to sleep. I’ll buy that. In fact, please Fed-ex to me right away. Payment? No problem.

You can get my credit card number from Melissa.

Reach Steve at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). But not now — he’s napping.


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