Paula Treick DeBoard
Between three and seven a.m., the dead hours on TV, I was always sure to catch a commercial for EuroSealer™. It played in an endless loop, alternating with psychic hotlines and hair re-growth products. The infomercial run of the EuroSealer™, before the product could be mass-marketed in Wal-Marts everywhere, coincided with a period of insomnia which I attribute mainly to J.
The premise of the EuroSealer™ was simple. Using the patented technology, you could cinch anything air-tight: cuts of meat destined for the freezer, baked goods, fresh vegetables, even fluids. Occasionally, the infomercial suggested, situations arose where you might want to secure non-perishable items. A brief montage showed a perky blonde (the sort of woman J. would flirt with, fall in love with, and move across country to be with) Euro-Sealing™ travel-sized bottles of shampoo and other toiletries; she then packed her EuroSealer™ on top of her suitcase, presumably to use on the return trip.
The blonde woman not only had nice luggage and plane tickets to some exotic location, where she would recline, oiled, beneath a Technicolor sun, but she also had the foresight and mental acuity to protect her fine garments from anything that might leak. It would be very easy to love this woman; she made lists and never left a hair in the sink, that much was obvious. In the months after J. left, I had this thought probably a hundred times, wearing a ripped tee-shirt for pajamas and debating whether my breath was bad enough to warrant a trip to the bathroom.
I considered purchasing the EuroSealer™, but was prevented by the twin facts of having nothing worthwhile to seal (I was subsisting on cereal, peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles) and not even having enough “credit” on my Visa for two easy payments of $39.99, plus $14.95 shipping and handling. I was destined, so it would appear, to be a sloppy American with leaking luggage rather than a suave European who could travel first class without a care in the world.
I took to viewing the infomercial with the sound off, substituting my own voice for the announcer’s. “And if you’re not completely satisfied with the EuroSealer™ technology, return it within thirty days for a full refund,” I would announce to the blank walls of my apartment. Most of the artwork had belonged to J.
Eventually, I did rationalize several uses for the EuroSealer™. I had a paper bag in the back of my closet containing a small jumble of J’s items. A few of his letters to me, bearing his Chicago address. A few of mine to him, marked Return to Sender. He’d given me the necklace with the worry stone, which I’d rubbed thin before and during the LSATs. And then his belongings: a broken watch left behind in his dresser drawer, several unmatched socks I’d found under the bed, liner notes from a Nirvana CD, the remote control for the TV he’d taken with him. (That last one had given me a perverse pleasure; I imagined him hooking up the cable in his new place, flopping onto the bed that was also her bed, and realizing, horrified, that he’d left the remote behind.)
I’d come close to throwing these things out a dozen times, but couldn’t bear to do it. At particularly low points, I thought of dissembling them piece by piece and mailing them to the Chicago address, maybe with a bit of anthrax tucked in for good measure. It was neither dignified nor practical, however, and I now realized that all of these items could be neatly Euro-Sealed™, held like evidence in a police locker. The seal would protect them: they could be stored in my freezer next to the ice trays; they could be dropped off the Golden Gate and wash up in a Burmese rice paddy; they could be launched into space – although the infomercial did not specify whether the seal would still be effective under unstable atmospheric conditions.
If only I had known, I could have purchased the EuroSealer™ when I was with J., and when it started to get bad, I could have sealed myself off from him. Or better yet, sealed him off from me, avoided his wide-eyed pleas, and made room for him in the closet. After all, one of the product’s best perks – included free with the limited-time offer – was the handy seal opener, for easy access when the items were needed.
Will you promise to be good? I would ask him. Will you promise to love me forever?
J. would nod, his mouth would form please, please, the words fogging against the plastic. He would have to sweat it out a bit before I cut him free. When he was on his knees, I would forgive him everything. After all, it would be easy to hold him to his pr
BIO: Paula Treick DeBoard lives and works with her husband in Modesto, CA, where they are constantly tormented by their three needy pets. Paula is completing a MFA degree at Stonecoast/The University of Southern Maine. One of her short stories will soon appear in the print magazine Cantaraville.
MOTIVATION: J. was inspired not only by an infomercial, but by several men in my life, who have been cobbled together into the entity "J"
Photo by: Sanja Gjenero