By Hannah Reich Berman

Is my mother the only one who used to tell her children that if they laughed too much they would soon cry? I have no idea how she came up with that meshugas, but I have friends who’ve told me that they heard the same thing from their mothers. And as if that weren’t enough, my mother, or perhaps it was someone else, told me that a person gets fat from laughing too much. I have never checked that out with the scientific community, but one never knows about these things. It could be true, I guess.

The good news is that neither of those concepts ever changed my behavior, and I laugh (or I try to) as often as possible. Of course there may be something to what my mother told me, since I must acknowledge that over the years I have done my share of crying. But then who hasn’t? As for laughter making one fat, I refuse to go there!

There is always something to chuckle about. My most recent chuckles came when I saw a television commercial about losing weight with a new product. In order to eliminate commercials, I record the programs I want to watch so that I can fast-forward through them (the commercials, not the programs). But anything and everything about weight loss is intriguing to me, so I sat up and paid attention to this weight-loss advertisement rather than skipping past it. Initially, I assumed that it was just another diet pill, but I was wrong. This product may truly be the mother of all gimmicks.

The announcer who was gabbing about this fabulous new diet aid claimed that it is the most sensible way to lose weight without resorting to diet pills or bariatric surgery. What was then displayed in the commercial was some type of belt-like apparatus that has a solid rectangular block of what appears to be hard plastic. One is supposed to put the belt around the waist area, with that solid plastic piece placed directly in front. The idea is for the plastic to press against the stomach, thereby causing a feeling of fullness so that the schnook who wears this thing will eat less food. This is nothing less than brilliant! But the brilliance refers not to the belt or the plastic piece that is supposed to cause the pressure; it refers to the fact that this incredibly simplistic idea is a great way to make money.

The cost of this is close to $100–or, as is advertised, three easy payments of $29.95. Factoring in the shipping and handling, the total cost approaches the $100 mark. Why anyone in her right mind would spend that amount of money on this device is a total mystery. I could put on a tight belt, tuck my cell phone into the front of it, and–presto!–get the same effect. But that would make it a bit awkward to retrieve the phone when it rings, so I could go another route, which is even simpler. My closet holds clothing in all sizes. All I need to do is grab a skirt that is one or two sizes too small and put it on. In my case, there would be no worry about having to wear the same tight skirt every day, since I have a large selection of skirts (as well as other things) that are too small.

It might be kind to extend an apology for raining on someone’s parade and possibly bursting the bubble of the enterprising soul who came up with this concept. But while I am sorry to have just done that, there is no way I can let this nonsense pass. It is too ridiculous for words. Yet I am reasonably sure that there will be countless people–naive people, to be sure–who will soon be parted with their hard-earned $100 as they fall for it and place an order for this contraption.

Chances are good that the offer of “three easy payments of just under $30” will be a big inducement for many. I freely admit that there might just be a touch of jealousy on my part. Why didn’t I think of it? But the bottom line is that I did not. And as a result, I am now left to grit my teeth each time I see that commercial. It will ultimately allow the inventor to earn a lot of bread. Oops, as we are discussing weight loss here, the word bread may be a poor choice. So let me rephrase and say that the creative soul who came up with this gimmick will no doubt earn a lot of moolah.

In the meantime, I will dream about what could have been. My too-tight skirts will remain in what I refer to as my “Smithsonian closet”–the closet that qualifies as something of a museum since nothing in it has been worn by me for years. The garments inside, which might have made a lot of money for me, just collect dust as time marches on. That’s just the way it is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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