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Turn Your Head and Cough #20
by Jason Torchinsky

So my editor calls me up and tells me that, due to space limitations and a rather moving plea from the American Council of Churches, I need to make my column relatively short this week. As you can imagine, I was livid. "My readers' demands are far too high to be achieved in this constrictive space," I screamed into the phone, not the receiver, the little panel right beneath the keypad. I never was very good with those things. Still, I felt that my point was being made. Then I played my trump card, bellowing to the editor about how many papers my column helps sell. He then informed me that the Daily Tar Heel is, in fact, distributed free of charge to the student populus, rendering my argument null and making me really want to find that bastard who's been selling them to me for $2.50 apiece.

Ah, to hell with it. So this week my column will be somewhat truncated. Shorter, too. But that doesn't mean that I have anything less valuable to say! Far from it! No trivial matters shall waste any of these precious words! Meaning, enlightenment, that's what I provide!

Boy, are cotton balls expensive. The other day I was doing some cooking, following this recipe for this kind of venison corn dog that my mom used to make, and the recipe called for a few cotton balls, mostly for flavor. Anyway, I checked and found that I was completely out of cotton balls. So, like the good consumer I am, I went to the local store and bought some cotton balls. They cost so much! I don't get it. I bought about four bottles of cotton balls, and in each one there was only one cotton ball at the top, and the rest of the entire damn bottle was full of these little white disk things. I guess they're some sort of pill or something to keep the cotton ball from going bad. What a rip-off.

There's another thing that has been affronting my sense of reason lately. I know, for most people harboring the kind of ire I held for the inordinately high premium for cotton balls would be almost too much to handle. But, as I certainly don't need to tell you, dear readers, when you're a trivial-item-annoyance machine such as myself, this kind of energy comes easy. My other big beef this week is about an exercise product. Now, I know most of you are thinking "Listen, Jasmine Telsharski, or whatever your name is, if you dare say one thing about the Thighmaster, so help me, I...I won't be responsible for what I might do," but allow me to assure you that I have no intention of maligning the doctor-approved Thighmaster or, for that matter, any project that Suzanne Somers chooses to endorse.

No, my target is far trendier, and far stupider: the Step Reebok. I'm not as much concerned with the goofball training program, but more with the product itself, the Step Reebok. Here's my beef. It's a box. It's a goddamn expensive plastic box. It has the distinction of being one of the few products that is functionally identical to the package it came in. I don't get it. How can the fine robots at Reebok get away with selling what amounts to a small, ugly, plastic coffee table and passing it off as a piece of health equipment? Weasels.

I hope I've made myself clear: posturing this thing as a piece of exercise equipment, comparable, say, with a NordicTrack or a Soloflex or a SwedeTorque or something, is kind of like passing off a piece of rye bread as a life raft or some piece of formal wear. You'd think for your hundred or so bucks that at least the Reebok folk would have loaded it up with lots of meaningless digital counters and shock-dampening systems and visors and decals and servo-operated injection units or something, but, alas, things are not so kind.

I don't know. People are going to still buy this goofball thing, giving Reebok money, perhaps, to create the "Stand Reebok," a single flat plastic plane with the Reebok logo, designed to provide the user with more ergonomic loitering. Madness. Solidarity.

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