A couple of weeks ago, I quit my job to go out into the world of freelance writing. Which basically means I stopped receiving money on purpose.
Which basically seems like a questionable life choice.
But frankly, when you do this, there are a few things that can happen: people will think you are funny and/or talented and hire you to write words again or you will die in an unemployed fire (or just be unemployed, develop an extreme drinking problem which will, in turn, cause you to be a fantastic writer again. I know, right? I love this job)…
Or you will realize that everything has words attached to it. Everything. And someone...SOMEONE is going to have to employ you. Hear me out.
Have you ever looked at crap and wondered:
A) WHY is this a thing? (Prime examples: an electronic tie rack, capri pants a.k.a.the pant that can't decide what it wants to be, 1,308 varieties of dish soap named after mountain peaks that do not exist that you have not gone to because they do not exist, etc)
B) WHO the F*CK wrote the words explaining that thing?
You probably don't experience "B" a lot unless you are a writer or a stoner (or both, which is usually the case, let's put our fingers on our noses and point at ourselves).
I think about "A" and "B" a lot. And I think about "B" so much so that I thought a full-time job wasn't required. You know why?
Because it leads me to believe that there are a lot of things that need words out there. A lot of useless, unbelievably strange things that can't even be explained by the people who make and sell them (!!).
I know this because every time I'm on an airplane, I read SkyMall.
SkyMall is perplexing because it's like 4,897 of those kiosks in the middle of a mall that oh my God WHO is going to that thing to buy a cell phone cover?
That's SkyMall: the mini-mall of mini-malls.
It's even more perplexing because someone IS going to that thing. They are buying things from SkyMall. They are buying things that are inexplicable, unnecessary…and amazing. And those things have descriptions.
Here are a few of my favorites. Remember: THEY ARE SELLING THESE THINGS ON AN AIRPLANE, AND PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY BUYING THEM, SO MUCH SO THAT THE MAGAZINE HAS BEEN IN PRINT FOR UPWARDS OF FOUR DECADES.
And, yeah: These are real things that I may just write for someday.
Product: Protein Ketchup
Tagline: "Finally, a ketchup that's good for you!"
Analysis: Was this a 'thing'? Were people really avoiding ketchup because they couldn't load up on it before a workout? Was that the #1 problem with ketchup? Did they hire anyone to research this, or just get drunk one night and write this and send it in before thinking? I hope their next product is "Water: It won't drunk dial you."
Product: Military Binoculars
Tagline: "See the color of an eagle's eye…FROM A MILE AWAY!"
Analysis: I want to buy a pair so that this conversation can go down at my apartment someday:
Friend: "Wow. Drew. These binoculars are AWFULLY big. What are they for?"
Me: "Seeing the color of an eagle's eye."
Friend: "Why would I ever need to do tha-"
Me: "Brown. Slight green tint. It's hungry, and it's girlfriend's name is Sandra. It's lonely, but it knows it will see better days once the winter passes."
Friend: "Nevermind. I get it. I. Get. It."
Product: Gravity Defyer Trampoline Shoe (GDefy for short, obvi)
Tagline: "Now you can escape the power of gravity."
Analysis: I mean, that's just an extremely aggressive statement. Just extremely, extremely aggressive.
Product: Sound-Activated Video Camera Pen
Tagline: "Perfect for collecting solid evidence that requires discretion."
Analysis: Is James Bond flying coach? Are people getting so sketchy that they'd buy a $179 pen to see if their significant other is cheating? Here's an easier way: ask them if they are cheating. Maybe don't buy the $200 decoder ring pen.
Product: Litter Kwitter Cat Toilet Training System
Tagline: "Potty train your cat faster than most people can potty train their kids."
Analysis: What I really enjoyed about this one (beyond the cat pissing-pissing-in-a-toilet visual and the fact that only "most" of America could potty train their kids faster than a cat, not "all") was the use of "kw" instead of "qu". It wasn't like being interested in this product was enough to secure that you'd die alone…the fact that you'd buy a product that spelled the word quitter with a "kw" really puts it over the top. Like, just buy 42 cats and lock the door to your apartment and become the next episode of CSI. You're already there, you don't even need the product.
Product: The Password Vault (A small LCD electronic device that stores all of your passwords that…requires a password)
Tagli…no, you know what? No. I'm not even bothering. Let me say that again: it's a device that stores your passwords in a small, easily losable device that requires a password. NO. NNNNO.
Product: Bigfoot, the Bashful Yeti Tree Sculpture
Tagline: "If you've never spotted Bigfoot, perhaps it's just because he's been hiding behind the nearest tree!"
Analysis: I mean. I'd make fun. But let's be real…I came real close to buying this, but I do not have "a tree", let alone many that would require the phrase "nearest". There was also a Texas Armadillo Beverage holder that I thought was ridiculous. I love that I drew the line there.
Product: Bigfoot, the Garden Yeti Statue. (Different company makes this one.) (!!)
Tagline: "…guests will be doing a double-take as they admire your creative home or garden style!"
Analysis: Who cares about the writing: I'm just mind blown that two different companies are competitively marketing bigfoot statues against each other in the same magazine/at all. Can you imagine if the neighbors got the statue after you had already bought the tree sculpture?
Husband: "Did you hear? Don across the street brought the Garden Yeti Statue."
(long, long pause)
Wife: "Unbelievable. Un-F*%KING BELIEVABLE."
Product: The Big Pitcher (it's a big water pitcher)
Tagline: "Water is life! Drink healthy with The Big Pitcher!"
Analysis: (golf claps) Oh I see what you did there.
Product: No! No! Skin
Tagline: "No pimples in no time."
Analysis: I get it. You wanted to say the word "no" twice to reiterate that not only would you have no pimples, you'd not have them in no time. Here's the problem: your product is a laser that I point at my face. A robot that shoots a laser at my face. So saying "NO NO SKIN" makes me feel like I will have no..no skin. And that sorta bums me out. Maybe have a look at the ad before you just give SkyMall the green light next time. People might be reading this wrong. (No! No! Hair was available too. But I already have! have! that).
Product: SkyRest Travel Pillow
Tagline: "This person is able to sleep comfortably in any seat. Can you say the same?"
Analysis: I mean, no. You know what? Wanted to argue this one, because I'm not sure who has the balls to bring this (and use it) on a plane. But you're right, SkyRest. Your threatening tone is right: I can't say the same. +1 for terror pillow marketing.
It's a competitive job market out there for writers. I imagine there will be plenty of times I live in fear in between jobs, no doubt.
But hey, let's face it...
I can probably always write for SkyMall.
Stream the whole thing at the link above (or by clicking on the picture with the SkyMall magazine in it that you would probably be reading if you were on an airplane).