November 21, 2013

Keep the barf bags handy

IT’S ALWAYS A THRILL when the mailman brings the West Marine Christmas flyer.  It’s an honest little publication. Its aim is bold and straightforward. Nothing hidden here. No sneaky product placement. No subliminal editorial copy, paid for under the counter, to fool readers. They just want to sell you stuff.

And, talking about stuff, what’s not to love about the two pages of stocking stuffers?  Of course, West Marine takes it for granted that you’ve got some big stockings to stuff.  Some of their stocking stuffers start at $129.99, like the Anti Seasickness Band that helps you “avoid the discomfort of rough seas.”

Now for many years we’ve seen little wrist bands that are supposed magically to prevent seasickness.  Some people with easily manipulated minds are convinced that they work. They believe seasickness is all in the mind, and that some little wrist band pressing on the wrist can inform your mind that it has got it all wrong, and the boat isn’t actually crashing up and down on huge waves generated by the storm, but is actually nice and still and calm and quite unable to make a person want to spew his dinner over the side.

Other people, like me, don’t believe a word of it.  We have learned about the balance system of the inner ear and how it clashes with the message that the eyes are receiving from the stillness of the cabin, and we know all about what causes seasickness — except for why people have to go and throw up their dinners.  It’s still a mystery to us that, when what you observe with your very own eyes gets into a fight with the balance system of the inner ear, the stomach has to stick its big nose in and interfere.

However, all that aside, West Marine now presents us with a new twist on the wrist band. The $129.99 wrist band is electric. Yes, sir, electric. It has an off button and an on button and it applies “gentle electrical stimulation to the nerves in your wrist” to provide “fast, moderate relief from nausea and vomiting.”

As I said, maybe if you have an easily manipulated mind,  an electric shock in your wrist may be able to break up the family feud that erupts when the stomach pokes its big nose into a fight between the eyes and the inner ear.  But I fear that most people with minds able to resist a moderate  amount of manipulation (for example, those who are not tempted to buy the Golden Gate Bridge for ten bucks) might be a little disappointed in the efficacy of the all-electric anti-vomit wrist band. And god help you when the battery runs down. Keep the barf bags handy.

Today’s Thought
A good gulp of hot whiskey at bedtime—it’s not very scientific, but it helps.
— Dr. Alexander Fleming

“You’re an hour late for work.”
“Yes, sorry boss, but I fell down the stairs and hurt myself.”
“A likely story!  Since when does it take an hour to fall down some stairs?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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