Giving in to urge to buy gizmo she doesn't need


(Note: Susan Reimer is not an actress. She has not been paid for this testimonial).

I did something I never do. I ordered something off the television.

Worse. I allowed myself to be mesmerized and hypnotized by Ron "Wait, There's More" Popeil, the king of kitchen gizmos and gadgets. I fell under the spell of his sonorous voice, took out my credit card and dialed the 800 number.

And it wasn't even for jewelry.

I still can't believe I did it. I mean, I have never done anything like this before. Unless you count the wok I ordered during my brief stir-fry phase. But I returned that.

Anyway, the television was on as background noise while I mopped the kitchen floor, and who should be gesturing wildly on the little screen but Popeil, the pop-culture icon who inspired Dan Aykroyd's immortal "SNL" "Bass-O-Matic" skit.

It was Popeil, the man who has made a fortune, lost a fortune and made it again inventing machines that do things you didn't know needed done. Like the Food Dehydrator, the Inside-the-Egg Scrambler and the Bottle and Jar Cutter.

"Set it, and forget it!" Popeil was shouting, and the studio audience joined in. They were all wearing aprons, for some reason.

He was demonstrating his Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ, and all over his studio kitchen food was rotating and broiling.

It reminded me of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Seven chops a-broiling, six burgers sizzling. Fiiive lobster tails. Four T-bone steaks, three chickens, two Cornish hens and a spiral-cut ham on the bone.

Well, you get the idea.

My daughter's gerbils consume more meat than my family does. We are all addicted to carbohydrates. So you might wonder why I needed a piece of equipment just for grilling foods that are not part of our diet.

I'm sorry. I can't explain it. But I leaned my mop against the wall, sat down and watched transfixed as Popeil grilled whole fish, salmon steaks, vegetables, garlic bulbs, shish-kabobs and spare ribs.

Every few minutes, he would point to the rotisserie's timer, cue the audience, and it would shout with him, "Set it, and forget it." (I wondered, briefly, if everyone got to keep the aprons.)

Sometime between the testimonials from professional chefs and a cardiologist, I picked up the phone and ordered my Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ in four easy payments.

I declined when the woman answering the phone offered to sell me additional products (marinades, spices for rubbing on the meat, cookbooks). You'd have been proud of me.

Days later, I was sitting in my living room, staring at a box the size of a console television set and wondering, what have I done?

Apparently, my family had the same question.

"Did you have a glass of wine in your hand when you made that call?" my son asked.

"No," I barked at him. "I had a mop in my hand."

"Watch out, Dad," he muttered as he slipped out of my range. "The Miracle Mop will be coming next in the mail."

My daughter just kept asking dimly, "What is this for? I don't understand. Is the oven broken?"

No, my son assured her. This is evidence that Mom is cooking.

"Of course, it's the only evidence," he said. "There's no food around or anything."

I was feeling ridiculous until my husband, the channel surfer, paused on one of the endless repeats of Popeil's infomercial. (He's spending more than $750,000 a week on air time to push his new invention.) He immediately empathized.

"Honey, this thing is great," he shouted from deep in his easy chair. "Are you sure you don't need another one?"

My son, who never misses an opportunity to ridicule my cooking, has asked if he can load his English homework on the skewers and yell, "Set, it and forget it."

Anyway, the opportunity for a family meal presented itself for the first time this fiscal year, and I loaded a chicken onto the spit of my new rotisserie.

"Set it, and forget it!" I said to no one in particular as I left the kitchen to work in the yard.

In the prescribed time, a chicken, perfectly broiled, moist and juicy, was ready for dinner. Of course, my children demanded stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy to accompany the chicken, so I don't think the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ qualifies as a time-saver. And it took 45 minutes to clean all the parts.

But that chicken was a beauty.

Because I don't personally cook Thanksgiving dinner -- Grandma handles that -- I foisted my new toy off on my friend Susan and demanded that she help me reduce its cost-per-use by grilling her turkey in it.

I handed her the instruction book and the demonstration video, and she looked at me wearily and said she wasn't making any promises.

"Just don't set it and forget it," I told her. "The instruction book says you could burn your house down if you do."

I called long distance on Thanksgiving Day for her report and she said her turkey had turned out beautifully in our new Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ.

"It's been a lovely day," she said. "We made fun of you the whole time. It's almost as if you were here."

In the future, I plan to rotisserize pork chops, ham steak and shish-kabobs. As soon as I find the time, of course.

When I said something about grilling fish, my husband volunteered to go out and catch dinner.

With his new Ronco Pocket Fisherman.

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