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24 March 2013 @ 11:54 pm
LJ Idol Exhibit A: "Big Spender"  
Big Spender
real lj idol | week 9 | 675 words
Bewitched and Bewildered

x-x-x-x-x

The first time, it was just a miracle cleaning solution. The box showed up on the porch in the middle of a Wednesday.

"I did not order that!" Rex Blackmun said.

His wife, Cora, was unconvinced. But since they'd already paid for the product, she decided to try it out. It seemed to work—the grout around the kitchen floor's tiles had never looked so good. She decided it hadn't been a complete waste of money.

The issue, however, was far from over. Rex arrived home on Friday to find Cora waiting for him at the door.

"Seriously, Rex?" she said. "A vegetable juicer?"

"What about it?" said Rex.

"Why on earth did you buy it?"

"I didn't!" Rex squinted at the new appliance, labeled The Juicinator Supreme. "What would we need one of those for anyway?"

"Hmm…" Cora thought for a moment. "Maybe someone got ahold of your credit card number. We should cancel it and get a new account."

Rex agreed. He re-packaged the juicer, and shipped it back for a refund. A week later, he'd already forgotten about the whole thing.

The next Tuesday, Cora was at work when she got a call from the next door neighbor.

"The UPS man is trying to get me to sign for a delivery," Mrs. Friebert said. "The box is huge. It says, 'Ultracore Exercise System' on it. Are you and Rex starting some kind of new health regimen?"

Cora dropped her head into her hands. "Oh, for crying out loud!"

That night, she thrust the invoice for the home gym under Rex's nose. "Are you trying to make me insane?"

"I'm not trying to do anything," Rex said. "I don't think I am doing it."

Cora pointed to the top of the paper. "This is your name on the order, and this is our credit card number."

"Yeah, but why would I buy something like that? They're ridiculously expensive."

"That's my point! I'm afraid you're going to bankrupt us the minute I turn my back. Please, promise me you won't buy anything else."

Rex nodded. "I promise," he said.

Cora arranged for the fitness system to be shipped back for a refund, hoping to God that would be the end of it all. She and Rex ate dinner and then watched reruns of Law & Order, both feeling a little easier. With another workday looming ahead of them, they were in bed by ten.

Later that night, Cora got up to use the bathroom and discovered that Rex's side of the bed was empty. She went out to the living room and found him sitting there, staring blankly at the television set. His hand slowly reached for the telephone, as if it had a mind of its own.

"Oh, no you don't!" Cora said, snatching the phone away from him. She turned off the television, and touched Rex's face gently. "Come back to bed, honey."

Rex blinked as if he'd just realized she was there.

"Come on," Cora said. "No more late-night television for you."

In a high-rise building across town, two researchers for the Innovative Marketing Corporation watched the whole thing unfold on a four-foot high display screen.

"Nuts," said the first one.

The second one shrugged. "It was bound to happen eventually. At least we know it works."

"True. He bought most of our impulse-enhanced products, apart from the sessions when he was asleep."

The second one checked his notes. "It's probably time to move on to the next subject anyway, to broaden the pool of data. We've got a lot more homes to get through. So, I guess we should set up a service appointment to remove the equipment. Maybe tomorrow?"

"Nah," said the first one. "What's the rush? Let's give it another week or so."

"But why waste the time? Old Rex here is obviously a success."

"Yeah, but still… he's bound to get insomnia again soon."

"So?"

"So, I want to see just how far we can go with this. Hey, maybe next time he'll even pop for a sofa!"



Community-only vote this week, here. If you've ever thought about joining, now's the time. The Green Room alone is worth it!

 
 
Current Mood: blahblah
 
 
 
Kizzyxo_kizzy_xo on March 25th, 2013 01:01 pm (UTC)
LOLOL! I love the simplicity of this -- it's tight, it's precise, it doesn't need much description because that's not the story, and you make a potenially bewildering situation funny! It would have been easy to have writt Cora as the "b" word, for instance, or to make the marketing men true evil geniuses. But you didn't, and I think that leads to the charm of this piece :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Glad it came across as intended! I wanted to suit the prompt with some light comedy, and not give away the source of poor Rex's behavior too quickly.

Bewitching through subliminal marketing seems almost scarily plausible, doesn't it?
audreybuttercupaudreybuttercup on March 26th, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
So the Home Shopping Network is actually a government experiment! I knew it!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)
It explains why people buy those ridiculous things, doesn't it?

I was kind of horrified to discover that the Juicinator is an actual product, too. Well, who could resist a name like that?
heather chick: bella_solkittenboo on March 26th, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
Ha! Reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2013 05:34 am (UTC)
That poor man never knew what hit him! Imagining having someone "turn your knobs" (and your wallet) from afar like that!
cindytsuki_no_bara on March 26th, 2013 05:53 am (UTC)
the jucinator, hee. this is funny but if you think about it, kind of disturbing. i wasn't expecting this to go into a subliminal marketing experiment. i like being surprised like that. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)
Somebody actually MAKES a Juicinator, and as soon as I hit that on Google, I thought, "Of course they do. Because it would obviously be the most awesome juicer ever. If that matters." ;)

The twist is the interesting thing about working with prompts, because it decided where this story would go, much like last week's!
B Manimpoetry on March 26th, 2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
Heh heh, I love it. Poor Rex. I'd totally buy a Jucinator Supreme too!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)
How could you resist something called the Juicinator Supreme? It demands that you buy it-- it just IS that awesome! :D
alien_writings: Glowing Brainalien_writings on March 26th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
The idea of marketing like that is all too plausible to me. Yikes! :O

Edited at 2013-03-26 09:05 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC)
I know! If it worked, companies would definitely do it-- until the government caught them. ;)
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Hahahaha! It's the best technique ever-- all we have to do is have you tune in, and you're dooooomed!

And hey, SOMEBODY must buy those Infomercial-type products, or the companies wouldn't be able to afford the TV time to advertise them. Which is even creepier, really. ;)
beldarzfixonbeldarzfixon on March 27th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
This story was wicked fun!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Poor Rex. Once his eyeballs were "live" during that experimental window, all hope was lost. I feel even worse for him that he never remembered doing it, so it was as big a surprise to him as anyone! And potentially even more disturbing. :O
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": The Middleman - Shoppingroina_arwen on March 27th, 2013 04:59 am (UTC)
This is very cute!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2013 05:40 am (UTC)
Haha-- what a perfect icon for the story!

Once the home gym purchase went through, I think Rex could have been counted on to buy pretty much anything. Heaven forbid the researchers try out a car ad with impulsifying messaging!
Myrnamyrna_bird on March 27th, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
It's the same principle as kids watching cereal commercials though. They think they just HAVE to have some of the sugar coated crunchy stuff...and usually we buy it for them. Advertisers are pretty darn crafty!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 28th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Though at least the advertisers aren't cheating in quite the same extreme. ;)

But I remember being a kid, and how susceptible you are to that kind of thing. Until you try the cereal, at least! My sister and I had such battles over that kind of thing. She loved Quisp, I thought it was dreadful. As were Corn Puffs. And Booberry. Frankenberry and Count Chocula and Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms and Alphabits, though? Fabulous. Apple Jacks, too!
(no subject) - myrna_bird on March 28th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on March 28th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
What a great little story! I loved it!

So, I went down to visit my parents in Florida recently. When I'm at home, I'm exposed to basically no advertising - I listen to mixed CDs in the car when I drive, not the radio. There are *very* few billboards and such in Madison. The TVs in the house we use only for playing video games, watching DVDs, or the rare netflix binge on something. So going down there was a total shock to my system. I was driving, and there's the radio with all the commercials. The highway, with all the ads. And then there was home - my stepmother has the television on literally all the time when she's in the room, and MAN there are a lot of commercials. I found myself trying to actually turn away from the tv whenever the commercials came on because otherwise I actually felt compelled to watch them. The colors, the motion, the little tiny stories that are told in twenty seconds or whatever (even if those stories are idiotic or make me want to punch something, like "oh gosh, the husband is such an idiot! Tralalala, thank goodness I have $PRODUCT to do $THING since he sucks so much")... it's just all designed to draw the eye, to catch the mind, to hook attention. It's kind of scary how effective it is, especially when I'm not usually exposed to it. All of which is to say that yeah, marketing is scary. And scarily effective.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 28th, 2013 05:37 am (UTC)
it's just all designed to draw the eye, to catch the mind, to hook attention. It's kind of scary how effective it is
Yes-- even without some newfangled subliminal enhancer, the ads themselves do their best to make you watch and want, even if the product is something utterly unnecessary or ridiculously specialized.

And so long as you're trying out your Evil Invention, why not jerk the guinea pig around a little more? I almost called this "The Guinea Pig," but I didn't want to give away the ending!
blahblahblah, whateverkathrynrose on March 28th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 28th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I kind of feel bad for poor Rex-- all of these bad results, and he has no idea he's even doing it. He's like a puppet on a marketing corporation's strings. :O
(no subject) - kathrynrose on March 28th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
Good old captain crazy-pants: me2011dreamsreflected on March 28th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)
this was really great, a fun and yet somewhat scary concept.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 30th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
Would you hate to be in Rex's shoes? Though I'll bet there are people who get "Buyer's Remorse" after some of those TV-based purchases, and wonder exactly why they bought it. ;)
Your Facekandigurl on March 28th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
This was really cute, the writing reminded me of a fairy tale with a twist ending. I honestly would not surprise me to find out actual subliminal messages are used in some of those late night infomercials!

ETA: Were you going for Snake Oil for the connection to the topic?

Nevermind, I totally had you down for the wrong topic on my spreadsheet. My bad!

Edited at 2013-03-28 06:07 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 30th, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
If you've ever stumbled upon one of them, you might wonder how anyone could build a half-hour informercial on those products, and who buys them. But if they can afford 1/2 hour of TV time for their informercial, somebody must!

Sorry about the topic switch. I wasn't getting anything going with "Snake," and since I had about one day less to write and post the story (vacation interference), I got nervous!
fourzoasfourzoas on March 28th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)
Nice--I imagine this is what's really going on with my Kinect...

Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 30th, 2013 12:54 am (UTC)
Thank you!

It's all about your $$, and any possible way to get them from you!