MyStoryYourStory: Little bit of this and that for suckers like me

When it comes to product instructions, I have only one question: Who writes this stuff? I get so ticked off when trying to follow them that sometimes I feel like ripping them to shreds.

The most frustrating operator's manual is for my VCR. "EZ Set Up" instructions? Yeah, right. Let's see now, we've owned five VCRs since 1979, and I still don't know how to run one.

It's not so much figuring out how to record a show airing right now. It is programs like Ellen that are on while I'm at work – those are the real challenge.

The problem is I can't record with the VCR timer unless I've set the VCR clock. If I'm unable to set the VCR clock, I can't record my shows. Needless to say, I still don't know how to do either.

Hey, I only want to record and watch later, like that's some big deal. As far as I can tell, it takes an act of God or a 10-year-old to follow the "Simple Recording Time" instructions. We 60-somethings just don't have a chance.

And, when product manuals have the word "program" as in TV program spelled "programme," I know I'm in trouble. This is because English-to-English translations can be even trickier than French or Mandarin Chinese to English. Besides, nearly 90 percent of U.S. product manuals are written by people whose first language is not English.

Speaking of drinking the Kool-Aid, I have been a sucker for the selling points of skin creams since I was 13. It was right around then when my face erupted into a bumpy red-dotted plain of zits. My first experience with pitfalls of persuasive advertising came with those convincingly seductive Noxema facial cream commercials of the 60s.

The woman in the ad had a clear face as smooth as satin, and I was completely convinced mine would look the same if I could just get my hands on a big blue glass jar of creamy white, cake like Noxema.

It took several months of babysitting once a week at 50 cents an hour until I could afford my first jar. I didn't mind the wait because I was certain this product would clear my acne once and for all.

My heart throbbed as I handed the drug store clerk my hard-earned dough. I could hardly contain my anticipation of the magical results. Like a virgin voyage, my first application made me euphoric with an image of blemish-free cheeks, forehead, nose and chin.

After applying Noxema for what seem liked months, not one iota of zit clearing. Well, at least my face smelled minty fresh and possibly felt a tad bit softer, too.

Today, I am a Nivea lotion customer because, yes, I do believe what the label touts as God's truth: "For silky smooth and touchably soft skin. Nivea Smooth Sensation Body Lotion is the smoothest in skin care – a lightweight lotion with triple action moisturization for touchably soft skin." Once a sucker, always a sucker.

Speaking of suckers, I'm a sucker for springtime lawns. The way they transform from crusty dingy tan to soft lush emerald is a drama rivaled only by the sound of what seems like a million birds nesting above.

What was a barren carcass of blah just a few weeks ago has become a magic carpet delivering us far away from our troubles to a carefree place.

Springtime lawns are nothing short of medicinal; causing chronically whining children to romp and play barefooted; accompanied by the music of their own high-pitched shrills of gladness.

Similarly, adults benefit from the greening as they proudly putz around, mow and later lounge in lushness, sipping a tall icy glass, sweating pure contentment.

Thank goodness we can count on that.

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email  boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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