COMIC PROMISES

I am very skeptical when it comes to ads and commercials from any source. “Once burned, twice shy”,  the saying goes, Well I’ve been burned much more than once. I’ve reached the crispy stage.

There was a time in my early youth when I was vulnerable to a tantalizing pitch. I had very little money then, otherwise I would have sent for all those miracle gadgets and life-changing instruction books offered on the back pages of comic books.

We kids trusted the ” Guarantee of 100 percent satisfaction”.  It didn’t matter if we bothered to read the small print because we didn’t know what “simulated” meant, so we were sure the $4.95 two-passenger dirigible would be capable of carrying us to faraway exotic places as shown in the colorful illustration.

I still don’t feel that my friend Skippy and I were completely taken for the $4.95 that we’d managed to scrape up from odd jobs and deposit bottles. For almost a month we enjoyed our reputation around the neighborhood as potential dirigible pilots. And then the parcel post man delivered a flimsy cellophane balloon with a cardboard gondola and we had to return the ten-cent fares we’d collected in advance from the kids on our passenger list. We told them we’d decided to reject that particular dirigible design, but we were investigating others.

Still, my gullibility survived. I thought if I ever came into some real money, like ten dollars, I’d send for a whole bunch of neato things.  I imagined having the genuine ventriloquist instrument (25 cents), cleverly hidden in my mouth as I threw my voice into the Swanson’s apartment next door. Then I’d watch the reactions of the occupants by wearing my X-Ray glasses (50 cents). If old Mrs. Swanson came over to complain about the  strange voices she’d heard in her living room, I could hide in my pioneer cabin ($1) and maybe lob out a replica army hand grenade ($1) which would emit a harmless loud bang.

If that didn’t scare off old Mrs. Swanson, I could blast off in my Jet Rocket Space Ship ($4.98) complete with instrument controls and retractable nose cannon. I would be up in the stratosphere and out of reach provided, of course, that old Mrs. Swanson hadn’t also sent for a Jet Rocket Space Ship.

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