I've been flipping through the airline catalog SkyMall for years now, and what a crazy collection of bizarre and useful gadgets it is. Of course, some are more useful than others! I'm still not sure how to categorize the life-like armadillo/beer can holder (just $19.95).
Anyway, I was thinking about SkyMall during a recent flight when it dawned on me that a savvy traveler could incorporate many of these unique items to jazz up an otherwise humdrum business trip.
The products I discuss are all very real (as is the quoted ad copy) and if you want to play Santa with SkyMall gifts you could be a holiday hero, but act fast. Those "Pierogi Tree Ornaments" ($9.95) and realistic "Bacon Sofa Throws" ($44.95) won't be available forever.
Here is the SkyMall business trip of my imagination:
You give yourself a final once-over in the hotel mirror before heading to the airport for the flight home. Hmm, hair's a little scraggly. Not a problem with the "Single Handed Barber" ($59.95) which provides a quick trim for "closely-cropped hair." If you can't quite picture this palm-sized gadget, just imagine a Roomba for your head.
Then you step outside and there's a bit of a drizzle. Uh-oh, you hope the hotel's "Peeing Boy of Brussels" fountain ($299) isn't on the fritz! But no, it's just rain and lucky you, you've got the "World's Smallest Automatic Umbrella" (just $34.95) in your pocket. So off you go.
You remove your loafers at security while congratulating yourself for having the foresight to purchase the "Ultraviolet Shoe Deodorizer" ($99.99). This electronic gizmo resembles a miniature football goal post (shoes are placed on post ends) which uses "the same UV technology employed by most hospitals." No worries about TSA officers keeling over when your shoes come off.
You pause on your way to the gate to pet one of the airport therapy dogs patrolling the terminals. Wistfully, you think back to your own pup, long gone to that Big Hydrant in the Sky. Fortunately, his memory (and photo) live on forever in your "Pet Memorial Frame" ($22.95), laser-engraved with the words, "Thanks For Everything, I Had A Wonderful Time!"
On the plane at last, but now you're faced with a dilemma. Do you don your "HoodiePillow" ($19.99) which offers "privacy and comfort on-the-go?" It has the advantage of simplicity since you just pull the drawstrings on the hood attached to the donut-shaped neck pillow for "uninterrupted shut-eye." Or do you wear your iGrow Hair Growth System helmet ($695) for the low-level laser therapy to reduce thinning hair? You opt for the latter because, while you do look odd in your silver-colored, futuristic helmet, you can't beat the "built-in iPod interface." Sadly, you fail to notice the product is suggested for "in-home use" only.
Meanwhile, the flight attendant seems to be avoiding you (couldn't be the helmet, could it?) but that's okay. You didn't want the airline snack anyway since you brought your own "Regal Brownie and Cookie Tower" ($89.95). And because you've still got your helmet on, no one dares ask you to share all that "fudgy deliciousness and buttery goodness."
But maybe it was too much of a good thing because that tiny seat of yours now feels even smaller. You decide to take your mind off that by having some fun with your "Zombie Playset" ($24.95), plastic glow-in-the-dark figurines of the living dead. This has not gone unnoticed by the flight attendant who is starting to give you some very nervous looks. You decide it's time to go incognito.
This turns out to be a mistake. Your disguise of choice, the "Beard Hat" ($19.95) makes you look, well, suspicious. This puzzles you since the whole point of the purple knitted cap with attached black knitted beard-and-mustache was to "bring out your inner longshoreman." Unfortunately, only thing it brings out is your inner oddness and the alarmed flight attendant calls the pilot.
It turns out the captain is a SkyMall fan too and in another stroke of luck, his name is Robert and you just so happen to have a "Gifts for Bob" T-shirt in your bag, emblazoned with the words: "Bob, The Man, The Myth, The Legend" ($19.95). The pilot is delighted with his swag. Crisis averted.
You finally get home. After such a stressful day, a stroll through the backyard is just the thing, plus it gives you a chance to say hello to an old friend, the "Garden Yeti" (life-size, $2,250). You wonder if the hirsute Bigfoot of "quality designer resin" is lonely, and resolve to ask Santa for a pal for him. If Santa shops at SkyMall, no problem: The catalog now offers an "Abominable Snowman Statue" (life-size, $2,350). They'll probably get along just fine; outside of his white fur, Mr. Snowman bears a distinct family resemblance to Mr. Yeti.
I wonder if it's too late to add to my Christmas list?
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.