I am Keith. I am the man who sits on an airplane and reads Sky Mall. I like to look at the advertisements for new and useless devices. The copy makes me laugh, like the ad for the Mosquito Sentry (a bug repelling device) that reminds travelers that more than a hundred people died of the West Nile virus last year. Although most of them were likely in third-world countries and consider airplanes to be demon birds sent by a mystical shaman from a rival tribe to destroy the year’s yucca crop, the fact is effective on many a Midwest mom looking for any knick-knack that can prevent little Megan, Mason and Tyler from a premature death. Keith notices an especially inspiring advertisement. It is for a device called a “bug vacuum.” It looks like an electric hand-blender with a vacuum on the end. The tube is two-feet long and can capture “flies, bees and spiders” as well as other pests. An electric grid in the handle spells instant electrifying death to any insect or arachnid intruder. Keith imagines the various stakeholders involved in the design, production and use of such an item. He decides to write a blog about this. After all, what the fuck else is he going to do on this flight. There isn’t even one hot flight attendant. Not one! Ugh! Airline cutbacks are really diminishing the quality of the flying experience.
Hi! My name is Gregory! I’m 7 years old. I go to Houston Elementary. It’s named after a famous singer my mom likes named Whitney. My mom says she likes Whitney’s music because Whitney has had a hard life like her. She says dad was a lot like the man Whitney married. I don’t remember my dad, but I have a picture of him that was hanging in the post office that I keep under my bed. I have Dora the Explorer sheets. Tommy Jenson says only gay boys like Dora. I hate Tommy. He’s so mean. Why does he say these things to me when he was the one who was looking at all the boys’ wieners in the bathroom? He said he was just looking in the mirror, but he was looking in the mirror for a long time. And only gay boys look in the mirror for a long time. Anyway, my school just had an inventor contest! I entered it because I thought of a great invention. First, I want to tell you how I thought of it. Ms. Beamer said you have to think of a problem before you can think of an invention. By the way, Ms. Beamer used to be Mrs. Beamer. But then one day Principal Jenkins had to teach our class because Mrs. Beamer wouldn’t come out of her Cadillac. She just sat in the parking lot with her head on the horn. It was really loud. I had to cover my ears. The next day Mrs. Beamer was Ms. Beamer. Anyway, Ms. Beamer said you have to think of a problem and then an invention that solves that problem. The first problem I thought of was how my mom sometimes can’t sleep. She likes to walk around the house at night. Sometimes I confuse her for a ghost because she wears a white nightgown and her hair looks like a witch’s. But then I see a glass of ice in her hand and a bottle of “Mom’s Feel-Good-Juice” under her arm, and I know it’s just her. But the only solutions I could think of were already invented. Like when I can’t sleep my mom will tell me to read a story or pour myself a glass of warm milk or that she’ll just throw her arms in the air and say, “What’s the point of sleeping when my whole life is one big waking nightmare!” I don’t like nightmares, especially ones with snakes. So I tried to think of another problem. And I thought, what about Tommy? He makes fun of me. That’s a problem. So then I invented a machine that has a button that would make Tommy go away. I drew a picture of it and showed it to Ms. Beamer. In the picture I had the machine and I was pushing the button and Tommy was exploding and his arms and legs were flying in the air and a seagull was pooping in his mouth. Ms. Beamer said I can’t invent that and that I have to talk to the counselor. Finally, I found a problem that made me think of an invention. My house is full of bugs. I hate bugs almost as much as I hate snakes. I hate killing the bugs because sometimes they bite me and then my cheeks get puffy and my face turns blue. My mom says it’s allergies and that mine are really bad, so bad that she says if I wasn’t born and she didn’t have to always take me to the doctor she could buy that purse she saw at that fancy store downtown. Anyway, I thought I could invent something that could kill bugs without me getting bit. But I couldn’t think of anything. Then I had what Ms. Beamer calls a moment of inspiration. My mom was hurting me with the vacuum chord like she does when I do something stupid. This time I told mom I didn’t want her to go out with Bruno, mom’s boyfriend. Bruno smells like smoke and his face is covered in boo boos. He likes to pull my hair and call me a “little piss ant dog fart.” So anyway when mom was hurting me with the vacuum chord, I realized I could vacuum up bugs and then they couldn’t bite me. So I drew a picture of my invention and gave it to Ms. Beamer the next day. Soon I found out I won a contest and my invention would be made into a real invention. Now I’m an inventor!
Hal Goldsberg’s the name and selling cutting edge technology is my game! I am the CEO of Sky Mall Corp. My associates and I travel the world looking for the most revolutionary devices on the face of the planet. Need a can opener alarm clock? We got one! How about a suitcase that turns into a lawn chair! Got those too! Cheeky welcome mats, singing dog bowls, toilet lights! Our inventory is endless, ENDLESS! It takes a lot to become one of our featured products. Any reader of our catalogue, casual or religious, knows that Sky Mall only highlights top-quality goods. No cheap and chintzy portable microwaves here. If you want a piece of Korean-made trash, you should buy from Air Depot or Cloud Store or Space Space. No siree. Sky Mall means dependable, non-toxic goods…unless listed as otherwise ever since we had that lawsuit over our Flintstones-shaped rat poison tablets. It said “rat poison!” You’d think a kid could read. Oh well. IN any case, we recently discovered an exceptionally useful item that we just had to feature within our prestigious publication. I was driving my Lincoln Towncar behind the local McDonald’s to pick up a couple of cheeseburgers for me and my prostitute when I decided to take a peek in the Dumpster for inspiration and because it was the only private location I could think of where my wife wouldn’t try to find me while this prostitute was making moist on my rod. Inside said Dumpster was a stack of papers. Doodles if you will. All done by kids or maybe retards, or quite possibly retarded kids. I don’t know. But what I do know is that in this pile of what otherwise looked like uninspired trash was a diamond in the rough, or as I like to say, a goldfish in a pond of shit. It was a drawing, a blueprint of quite an inspired invention. A vacuum to suck up bugs. Bugs! Ha! Those little pests that infect lesser people’s homes. I for one have no bug problems, what with my electric fly swatter, my Channel-scented flypaper and my robot that eats bugs. Still, other people, like the kind that work for say Flight Bodega, might not be able to afford such amenities. So I immediately told the prostitute I was an undercover cop and ran like the dickens back to my still running Lincoln and headed straight to the office, which is in fact my garage which is more of a car port, but who’s counting?!? Anywho, I got to work on making this drawing a reality. With a little bit of tinkering, elbow grease and a few lost fingernails, I managed to make a working prototype. And what do you know! It sucked up bugs alright! I’m proud to say my house is pest free, save for my nagging wife. That’s a joke of course.. (No it’s not). And look at Sky Mall! We’ve already pushed out 1,000 of these puppies. Pretty soon every household in the U.S., or at the very least Wichita, will have one of these bad boys. Yup. Life is pretty sweet, thanks to the bug vacuum. Oh, and prostitutes.
Tucker! Get down from there! Mommy’s vanity is not a plaything. Neither are mommy’s pearls. Put those down! And get that candelabra out of your mouth. It’s only for company. Oh hi! I didn’t see you, what with being a mother. I’m Janice Reynolds, and my life has been forever changed thanks to this darn bug vacuum. It sure is a pretty neat thingy. And it’s so simple even I can work it! Tucker! Get off of the dresser! That’s where mommy keeps her diaphragm. Di-a-phragm! Good! Anyway, before this little gizmo came into my life, my kitchen was over run with all kinds of little nasties. Ants, thanks to my husband Mike and his habit of leaving crumbs on the counter. Oh but bless his heart, he sure works hard. He’s a lawyer for McGribson & Grimm. He’s been trying to make partner for the best 10 years. You’d think after working every weekend six months straight they’d consider him. I mean, after all, he is the oldest associate in the entire firm! I think he has a fear of success, but the doctor’s say it’s early dementia. Dementia my patooty! A man can’t step outside for a breath of fresh air? Even if he is on the 30th floor of his office building? Oh well. Anywhosie, we also get a lot of wasps and hornets around here especially during summer. Normally I’d just spray them with a bit of Raid but I read somewhere that spraying too much Raid can give cats heart murmurs. And I swear if I knew I was causing Leopold health issues, I don’t know what I’d do with myself. Probably bake a cake. Tucker! It is not t.v. time. You do your homework young man. And put on some pants! Anyway, it’s embarrassing when I’d have Denise or Louis over for an afternoon glass of merlot and all the sudden a centipede is climbing up the floral wallpaper. I mean, I keep a clean house, especially with all that over-the-counter speed I take. Oh, I know, it sounds like a bad habit, but I have it under control, except for the migraines and nosebleeds But anyway, now I can just suck those little critters right up. And I love that little zap sound it makes. Like the buzzer on Wheel of Fortune, which I never miss, sweet Jesus! Tucker! Did you finish your homework? What do you mean you forgot it! Why are you telling me this now? What do you expect mommy to do? It’s Wednesday. Mommy’s racquetball league is tonight. No mommy can’t stay home tonight. But you can have the anti-Boogie Man machine. Ok. Goodnight. The anti-boogie man machine is what I call the bug vacuum when I’m around Tucker. He thinks it will protect him at night from monsters. They are so darling at that age, so innocent and naïve. Why if I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve come home in the early morning hours after one too many glasses of Chardonnay to see him clutching that little bug vacuum like it was like the puppy I accidentally dropped down a sewer drain, well I’d probably belong to an even nicer country club. Oh! Behind you! A spider! Let me get that. SUUUUUUUUCK! ZAP!