Bad Marketing

I picked up one of these in the grocery store this afternoon. My wife insisted that I get one.

At home, after long fruitless minutes trying to figure out where all the pieces went, I got up to get a beer. On my way back to the table I looked at it and stopped.

“Hey, honey?” I said, in a tentative voice.

“Yes, dear?” She did not look up from her book.

“Does this thing look kind of… I don’t know, sort of… phallic to you?”

She put down her book and looked over her bifocals at the contraption.

“Mm-hmmm,” she replied, and went back to her book.

Figuring I’d assembled it wrong, I picked up the manual. I guess that’s what you’d call it, though it was printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper approximately the size of a road map of Montana, and no matter how I turned it, I kept getting the Spanish translation.

I folded it back up — well, as near as I could — and unfolded it again, and this time the Chinese translation showed up.

“Aha!” I thought. “A folding puzzle. Like a Rubik’s Cube!”

Which none of you whippersnappers will remember. But I remember it well. I spent a lot of hours in college trying to solve it, when I should have been doing homework.

I also remember how freaked-out I was when my six-year old kid solved it. One minute it was sitting on the coffee table all scrambled up, and my son was twisting and turning it, and scowling. I chuckled and left the room. When I came back, he’d lost interest and wandered off, and the cube lay on the coffee table, each side a solid color. It was only after I’d dragged in about a dozen neighbors to brag about my kid that I noticed how the corner of one of the little colored stickers had been peeled back by a grubby little fingernail. And then I noticed that not all the stickers were on quite straight.

What really hacked me off was that, in all those years of wrestling with the damned cube with a goddamned college degree in physics, that solution never once occurred to me.

But I digress.

I re-folded the instructions several times more, and finally the English version turned up. After reading a few lines, I rubbed my eyes, drained my beer, and got another one from the fridge. It was a hot night, and I figured maybe I was suffering from mild heat stroke. But no such thing. Here are the instructions in English:

Grasp tool firmly with hand. Flick switch until tool begin to vibrate. Apply to short hairs gingerly, and stroke in one direction only. With some attachment, light circular motion can give pleasant result. WARNING: If tool grow excessively warm, cease action immediately, and allow to cool. Allow sufficient time for recharge after use. CAUTION: tool must be appropriately lubricated before use, or damage may occur.

I folded the instructions until I got back to Spanish.

“Sweetheart!” I said. “Would you mind translating the instructions for me? I can’t find the English.”

She set down her book, and started to read the instructions. A moment later, she snorted and looked sideways at the device. She started to chuckle as she read further. A few moments later, she burst out laughing.

“Where do they get their translators?” she asked, rhetorically. I know she asked this rhetorically because she told me so when I tried to give her an answer.

“So what did it say?” I asked as she handed the instructions back to me. She just shook her head and laughed again. She picked up her book, still chuckling.

I circled the contraption the way I imagined a mongoose would circle a cobra. Riiikki-tiiikki-tavi. Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

But it just sat there, inert. I “flicked the switch” a few times, but nothing happened. I read,

Do not flick switch until fully charged, or failure to activate may occur.

Well. That might explain quite a few things.

I found the charger, and plugged it in. Nothing happened, except that a tiny, evil red eyeball opened and glowed at me. We glared at each other for at least a minute, but it never once blinked. Just like Ross Perot. Something else you whippersnappers won’t remember, and count yourselves lucky. Then I unplugged the charger, and the red eyeball went dark.

Ha! Got your number, I said to myself. I plugged it back in, and the red eyeball glowed again, but this time I ignored it.

“Sweetheart?” I said. “I’m not sure I want to use this thing.”

She sighed and put down her book. “We talked about this,” she said. “You need to use it. You’ve reached that age. It happens to all men your age.”


“Look, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Really. But you need to do something about it.”

“But what if I do it wrong? What if it it hurts?” I burst out.

She sighed, but gave me a sympathetic look. “Do you want me to do it for you the first time, and show you how it’s done?”

“No,” I said, my pride stung. “I can do it myself.”

The manual was right. Light, circular motions gave a pleasant result. Though I imagine every guy is a little different.

Heck, some guys never grow hair in their ears in the first place.


This entry was posted in General.

5 comments on “Bad Marketing

  1. Maravilla says:



  2. Susy says:

    i was starting to wonder where i could get one! hahahaha i am TOTALLY KIDDING!


  3. John Burt says:

    Those things tickle my nose and feel like mosquitoes on my ears.


  4. Tim Grote says:

    “and no matter how I turned it, I kept getting the Spanish translation.”  How do they do that!??! Your description is perfect, they’ve fit a 3 dimensional (or more) Rubiks cube on a sheet of paper!
    Thanks for the laughs Joe.. 🙂


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