I can scarcely believe I have never ordered anything from SkyMall. Shopping for ill-advised items—particularly while intoxicated—is what I do best (for example, coming out of a bourbon fog at 3 a.m. and waking up to an infomercial for a personal massage device called the Dr. Ho. Its creator, the human Dr. Ho, has a braid down to the middle of his back and is wearing nothing but biker shorts. I call in and buy one immediately. When it arrives, it does little more than deliver a series of painful electric shocks that feel like bites from a robotic gerbil).
And I am a nervous flier (read: sedatives). You’d think I already would’ve ordered the Bigfoot Garden Yeti Sculpture in slurred speech while suspended 32,000 feet above the ground. The problem is that to order on the plane, one has to pick up The Phone That Lives Inside The Seat. I have a lot of anxiety about doing this. Buried snugly inside the cushion, its curved receiver looks like the fossil of a slender bone that should not be disturbed. Were I to pick it up with fluffy clouds just outside the window to my left, I fear the voice of a deceased relative would be on the other end via some weird heavenly reception, or that my call would be promptly and embarrassingly connected directly to the pilot. Or something even weirder: no voice at all, just heavy breathing that would prompt me to respond “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret” in a shaky voice and to waft my remaining drink vouchers above my head like they’re Wonka’s golden ticket.
But returning home from AWP, I glanced at SkyMall’s pages with a new mission: how might an emerging writer come to stick out at these conferences? I needed some kind of gimmick, some angle. Then I saw it: the travel bidet.
Yes, I realized. I could be the writer who carries around a travel bidet in a small pink suitcase at all times. When people say, “Who is Alissa Nutting?” others could then answer with certainty: “She is that writer who carries around a travel bidet.” It sounds pretty great; the description promises that “this little wonder, which comes with its own handy travel pouch, provides a refreshing, pulsating spray of water just where and when you need it.” The bidet sales-pitch informs me of the link between sanitation and ego: “personal appearance starts with personal hygiene, something people don’t always like to talk about but that is at the cornerstone of our self-image.” The write-up also assures me that not being comfortable “can affect our performance and self-confidence in important business and social functions.” Where was this little gadget before my panel??!?
I will BeDazzle my bidet briefcase. I will spend all year BeDazzling it, and when I get to AWP 2011, I will be the most confident writer in the room. What worries me is that people might be reluctant to shake my hand, or hug me, when I am carrying my bidet briefcase. This makes no sense because I will actually have a superior level of cleanliness. Perhaps I can write this in jewels across the case-top: FEEL FREE TO SHAKE MY HAND, I AM ACTUALLY CLEANER THAN YOU ARE.