A Lighter View … Why lawn flamigos don’t wear pantyhose

Rational people are just as capable of doing dumb things as anyone else. I’m living proof that it’s an equal opportunity achievement. My latest bonehead moment happened when I opened a package that came in the mail marked “Free Pantyhose.” I knew I should have thrown it away, but the idea of getting something for free was just too enticing. It lured me in like a diet that says you can make unlimited trips to the buffet bar and still lose weight as long as you use a smaller plate. What can I say? Greed lowers your I.Q.

There weren’t any pantyhose inside the envelope. There wasn’t even a pair of those pitiful loaner socks like they give you at the shoe mart. Instead, I found brochures for everything from toaster cozies to cover-up cream for unsightly leg veins. Ads tumbled out for fat zappers, solar powered socks, and lawn flamingos. The coup de grace was a letter referring to me as a “special customer” accompanied by an order form for a fart machine. This did not make me feel special.

The pantyhose people had clearly made a mistake. I do not fit the profile of someone who would buy a fat zapper. Sure, I own a confetti launcher and a bubble machine, but who doesn’t? Besides, they’re strictly for birthday parties—not my personal use. The guy down the street is the one the pantyhose people should be targeting. He parades around in a baseball cap with a stuffed Walleye poking out the sides and has a license plate collection on display in his yard as lawn art. He’s probably dying for a plastic flamingo.

What happened next I blame on the flu and a weakened immune system. I fell for this slick marketing promotion that offered a control-top pantyhose capable of giving me an 18-inch waist. I started to believe my legs would look like Catherine Zeta Jones’ and that I would have the urge to dance. I even visualized myself gliding across wooden floors; worry free because my pantyhose had reinforced toes. It wasn’t a matter of choice anymore; I needed those nylons more than the air I breathed. The flu had obviously clouded any perception of reality.

To get my free nylons, I had to choose a color. This was easy—they only had taupe. After that, I was hit with more paperwork than a mortgage closing. I had to fill out a mandatory questionnaire that asked if I had chronic acid reflux, was embarrassed by my dull gray teeth, or frequently grocery shopped at gas stations. Then, upon completing a 300-word essay on why it’s patriotic to wear pantyhose, I had to send everything back in triplicate and pay the postage. Most people would have given up on the free pantyhose, but not me. I thrive on high pressure, complex assignments that net minimal returns.

I can’t believe I responded to this offer. I am the designated gatekeeper for my family and the last bastion of sanity between them and the outside world. On one occasion, I left them unguarded while I bought some toothpaste down at the gas station. And by the time I got back, Wayne had purchased health insurance for our goldfish and the kids had changed religions. There is nothing that this family won’t jump at the chance to buy or join. They’re like moths flying into a porch light.

I first realized my family’s “problem” when a free book showed up in the mail. My husband acted like we’d won the lotto. When the next volume arrived with an invoice, he’d completely lost interest in reading. Eventually, we were forced to sell our car because the trunk was filled with books still in their mailing cartons and we needed the space for our Beanie Babies. The next year, he signed us up for a lawn service. We didn’t have a lawn; we lived in an apartment.

Our kids are even worse. They’ve joined a hair replacement club, volunteered for medical research as test subjects, and applied to be governor of California. Last year, I discovered a stranger demonstrating a vacuum cleaner in the living room while my sons watched. I was outraged and made the guy leave immediately after all the floors were cleaned.

My free nylons arrived today with a note that said I was officially a member of the pantyhose club and thereby entitled to three new pair every month. In their excitement, they forgot to tell me how to cancel my membership. Now my only options are: 1) move away, or 2) spend the entire day waiting for the mailman next month, so I can wave him off like a pit crew at the race track. These are not the actions of a rational woman.

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