Back in the days of my misspent pre-teen youth, my girlfriends and I kept ourselves busy with all sorts of things after our parents went to bed. It was too soon to swill our parents liquor cabinets, we weren't old enough to care about boys and we were finished with dolls. We had to find something to do with endless hours of sobriety. The telephone was just such a vehicle to provide hours of free entertainment.
During the great pre-caller ID era (and it's evil predecessor *69), you could actually call people and they didn't know it was you unless you chose to tell them. We would dial numbers at random and annoy people well into the wee hours of the morning.
Of course this gets old at some point and you start looking to up your game. The answer to our prayers was public access television. Back in the late 80's there was a show on PCTV called Telemart. It was basically the bargain basement version of QVC. The show started out with a little jingle that went something like this....(sing it to any tune, it really doesn't matter - it was that bad)
"Telemart, Telemart, Tel, Tel, Telemart, Telemart!" and then it cut to a woman who would hawk crap to poor unsuspecting people with unfulfilled lives with nothing better to do than watch public access TV. I'm not really sure who ordered the decorative plastic Santa toilet paper holder but someone must have because she was a regular on PCTV.
While I describe it as similar to QVC, it differed in a few critical areas:
1. The wide range of pleasant and convincing descriptive adjectives used to highlight product features. QVC did a decent job convincing people that their stuff was nice. On Telemart her grasp of the language went as far as "beyouteful". That was it.
2. The spectacular quality of production. QVC had a nice studio, they had more than one camera and clearly had someone who knew how to work all the crap in the studio. Telemart had one camera that someone borrowed from weird Uncle Merv set up on a tripod. Typically this was aimed directly at the Telemart lady from one angle and she sat behind a folding table that had a dirty bed sheet hung on the wall behind her. Nothing says classy like a modified double wide that was last used to hide kidnapped children.
3. The quality of the on air talent. QVC had attractive plastic looking people with nice manicures, recent make-up application and somewhat attractive clothing. God help me if I can remember her name but the Telemart lady had a face that only radio could love. She sort of resembled your bizarre-o neighbor that rarely left the house and always shuffled out to get the mail in a wacky print house dress.
4. Talking to the public. QVC takes a caller now and again as testimony to the fantastic quality and desirability of their products ("Hey Betty from Oklahoma! Tell us about how much you love the thirty-five "Never Water Decorative Plastic House Plants" you bought last week!). Magically the customer voice would just come out of your television and the on air talent would smile and chat with them right there on camera. The Telemart lady had a old rotary phone that sat on the folding table. It would ring, she would answer (wearing her trusty headset) and she would take calls from people. At best this was confusing because you could only hear her end of the conversation. Riveting television I say.
It is this last point with which we had hours of unending joy. Seriously, did they not think that every bored pre-teen was going to call in and prank this poor woman? We would dial, watch the phone ring, hear her answer (see her answer) and then proceed to ask a million questions about whatever piece of crap she happened to be selling that evening. We would speak to her in a crazy falsetto voice (noooo, that shouldn't have been any kind of tip off that I wasn't really Cathy who had questions about the Bedazzler decorated toilet seat cover...)
Me: "Hi Telemart lady, can you tell me if those are real crystals?"
Telemart Lady: "Hi Cathy, I'm not real sure but they sure are beyouteful."
Me: "Ok, can you describe the fabric?"
Telemart Lady: "It's a beyouteful blue."
Me: "Ok, do you think it would fit a really oval shaped toilet seat not just the regular sort of round kind?"
Telemart Lady: "Well it's kind of stretchy so I think it will look beyouteful on your toilet."
Me: "Are you sure you don't know what those bedazzler things are made of?"
You get the picture.
I really feel badly for the kids nowadays. Thanks to technology you just can't get away with anything. No wonder kids are out there smoking crack and having babies. Where's the Telemart Lady when you need her to save our children from the hard life of the streets?