5 Absurd As Seen On TV Products (That Are Secretly Useful)
Every once in a while, you come across a product so stupid, you immediately label it as a joke or a shameless cash grab. Most of the time, you're absolutely correct. However, sometimes an entry in all those "can you believe all these stupid products?" lists the internet is teeming with is actually super useful. All you need to know is how to use it.
This mainstay on "worst products ever" lists seems like it couldn't possibly belong anywhere else. It's a golf club you can pee in. A toilet golf club! What happens when you swing it? See the Happy Gilmore sequel Adam Sandler is probably making right now about that exact thing to find out!
How It's Actually Useful:
The thing is, it's not a fucking golf club. It never claimed it was one. It's a portable bathroom that is designed to look like a golf club.
These days, golf is a game played by all ages and classes. Maybe you're a 70-year-old gentleman player with bladder control issues far beyond the demands of an 18-hole game, and sick and tired of having your butler cart you to the clubhouse every time your slowly failing body decides to open up the tap. Maybe you and your friends have cracked open a 40 or two before the game and snuck in a few beers, only to realize the obvious problems that the combination of a full bladder and a wide-open field brings at around the fourth hole. Maybe you just forgot to go to the bathroom before the game, because, shit, a guy can't be expected to remember everything, can he? In any of those scenarios and a hundred more, an inconspicuous portable toilet disguised as the last thing people expect suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad thing, does it? No. No, it doesn't.
The fact that you hold a regular club like you were about to pee in it doesn't hurt, either.
Really, if this product has a fault beside the knee-jerk "LOL what the shit is that?" effect, it's that it's not exactly designed with women in mind. Luckily, there's a fix for that ...
Urination Devices For Women
OK, look, I promise not every entry on this list is going to be about peeing.
Pick a "stupid products for women" list on the internet, and chances are that one entry is going to feature a stand-up urination device. The go-to laughing stock tends to be the Go Girl, which is a ... pink funnel that you can pee through, hopefully, if you're sober and stable enough.
May your aim be truer than men's, which admittedly shouldn't be too hard.
How It's Actually Useful:
The whole "Men can pee standing up and women can't!" thing is one of the most common cliche jokes in the whole, tired "from Mars/from Venus" shtick. It seemed kind of incredible that a product aimed to fix this disparity is such a joke. So I got curious and started asking female friends and co-workers about their thoughts on it, which, incidentally, was a way less watch-list-y process than I now realize it sounds like.
It turns out that it's not so much the concept that is ridiculous (except to men, who I suspect have written roughly 99 percent of the lists laughing at it in the first place). In fact, the women I talked to about this were able to rattle off a veritable horde of potential uses for the product. Camping, traveling, music festivals, filthy airport/bar/rest-stop toilets ... Everywhere but your home and the most well-maintained of public restrooms can be a potential horror show when your only option is sitting down. I am told -- and feel free to share your own opinions/stories about this in the comments, ladies, because if I had to listen to this, I see no reason why other people shouldn't as well -- that a certain type of public toilet for women tends to be even filthier than men's toilets. Apparently, many women have taken to sort of crouching over or even outright standing on the toilet seat to avoid touching its horrors, thus further messing the place up because good luck aiming from that position.
So clearly it's not the fact that a pee-upright device for ladies is an unnecessary thing. However, there's more to it than just slapping women with a glorified, vaguely anatomically shaped funnel. My fellow columnist Kathy Benjamin was kind enough to lend her opinion on the subject, and according to her, the concept is neat, but the Go Girl itself isn't the greatest feat of engineering. However, this thing looks like it has the necessities of a product like this nailed down to a T:
Sure, it's not as photogenic as far as "Haha look at this dumb thing" lists are concerned, but it'll do.
See how, unlike the Go Girl, the funnel is shaped in a way that you might not have to actually take your pants off. There's even an extention for when ladies what to pretend to have a bigger penis (or aim their pee farther away). Note also how the package includes a pocket-sized toilet that turns liquid into gel. Savor the fact that the damn thing isn't even pink unless you specifically order it in that color. That, female friend, is a serious product for all your peeing needs. You can call it ... the SHEWEE.
Wait, seriously? Fucking SHEWEE? God dammit, you're really not doing yourself any favors here, help-women-pee-upright industry.
The Upright Sleeper
See? This one's not about peeing! Remember how trustworthy I was today the next time I ask for your credit card details.
Another veteran of snarky online commentaries and obligatory comedy reviews, the Upright Sleeper admittedly looks the part of a Very Silly Thing. It seems like what the Jigsaw Killer turns in for the final exam in balloon animal school, and it looks like the first purchase you'll make the next time you have to Weekend At Bernie's a dead body around the city. It doesn't look like a thing that you'd use seriously, ever.
On yourself, that is. Your enemies, on the other hand ...
How It's Actually Useful:
I have to travel quite a lot because [REDACTED], and you know what my number-one enemy in planes, trains, and automobiles is? That's right, John Candy. Apart from him, though, it's this fucking thing:
This. Fucking. Thing.
Travel pillows are a universally accepted way to catch some sleep during your preferred method of transportation (unless you're driving, in which case stop reading this column and pay attention to the road). They're also the goddamned worst. Inflatable U-pillows have a ridiculously narrow comfort zone that's almost impossible to estimate as you inflate them. You'll generally end up with an uncomfortably rock-solid one that brings your neck naught but the gifts of pain and unnatural angles. If you attempt to deflate the thing a bit -- which, in most models I've tried, creates a sound not unlike loud farting -- you'll usually go too far the other way and end up with the limpest, least stylish neck warmer in the world. Memory foam ones are slightly better, but those things heat up like Chris Evans in his more misguided superhero role, and you'll more often than not wake up with a torrent of neck sweat escaping the infernal apparatus all the way to your ass crack.
The Upright Sleeper, on the other hand, just keeps your head up. Sure, it looks like a torture device, but let's face it: No one gives a shit about how you look during the long kinds of travel that prompt you to pack a sleeping device in the first place, least of all you. I'll have six of this thing right now.
Kush Support Breast Separator
I've actually written about Kush Support Breast Separator before in a column about ridiculous products made for boobs, and my treatment of the subject was ... well, pretty much what it says on the tin. The reason I mocked it made sense then as much as it does now, and the ClipArt-infested promotional images of the product do little to make it seem any saner:
It's a piece of more than mildly phallic junk you stick between your boobs for ... supporting them and keeping your decolletage unwrinkled? Jesus.
How It's Actually Useful:
Look at the comments on that boob column, and you'll see a fair few people making the same, very fair point: mo' booby, mo' problems. When you have huge enough breasts -- say, you're nursing, or have large implants, or just naturally happen to be on the top-heavy side of the equation, you are constantly carrying two close-knit slabs of chest-strapped flesh, and if you're a side sleeper, one is going to crush the other. Apparently, people use their arms, or pillows, or bundled-up socks to deal with the issue all the time. The folks at Kush just recognized a consumer need, and slapped out a product to deal with it.
I'm told there's also another reason for big-breasted side-sleepers to use Kush, which the product doesn't exactly advertise: sweat. Imagine a hot, sweaty summer night. Now, imagine that you have a pair of large breasts, clinging to the sheets and each other, constantly sweating a river between them. No, wait, that's not how I meant it. Give back that image, you're twisting it. Perv.
Have this image of a waterfall inste- wait, this isn't helping, is it?
Aaaaaand that is what the Kush separator is actually handy for: Not just supporting your cleavage, but airing it out. Sure, it might be kind of gaudy, and really fucking bad at getting its point across to the general public due to its inherent ridiculous-seeming nature, but that doesn't make it useless. This is just one of those consumer needs that won't even occur to the people outside the target group.
The Tiddy Bear
Oh, shit, son -- it's the motherfuckin' Tiddy Bear! It's a ... teddy bear that you strap on your seat belt, with a titty joke right in the name. This is actually another product we've freely mocked back in the day, and really, can you blame us? Just take a look at the fucking monstrosity that passes for this thing's infomercial:
"Oh, the pain and extreme discomfort of using a seat belt! Truly, woe is our world unless we immediately strap a clip-on teddy bear on that thing and jam it up our cleavage."
How It's Actually Useful:
Tacky fucking commercials aside, here's the wham line from the product's admittedly equally tacky web page:
"Just snap the Tiddy Bear onto the shoulder strap of your seat belt and adjust up and down to remove pressure where you need it."
"And we all know where you need it, don't we, Susan?"
Turns out, that thing about comfort and pressure is more than just "LOL wacky titty teddy," though the product itself seems pretty proud to go that way all the way, burned reputation be damned. Seat belt comfort is actually a pretty important thing, because pretty much all seat belts out there are designed for an average-sized 40-year-old dude. If you want to know how they interact with anyone differing from those measurements, here's a 60-year-old, 5'4" woman who ended up in a neck brace after a collision. Research indicates that the forces necessary to keep that average Joe in place can make the belts uncomfortable at best, and terribly risky at worst, for smaller wearers. Combine that with the nasty chest and abdominal injuries seat belts can cause in the event of a crash, and wouldn't you know -- suddenly, a pillow that might look stupid, but also offers some extra padding between you and the life-saving, yet almost certainly wrong-sized, edged rope harness doesn't seem like that bad of an idea anymore.
Though, to be fair, the name "Tiddy Bear" remains an abomination.
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