I used to dread US domestic flights. I would board in a fog of despair knowing that for the next four hours I would be squeezed between two bathroom-tile salesmen from Idaho. The only entertainment would be a Miley Cyrus movie played on a screen 100 metres away and the packaging of the inflight meal would be tastier than its contents.
But now I positively skip down the aerobridge, high-fiving other passengers along the way while whistling Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. Why? Because I've discovered SkyMall, the bizarre but endlessly entertaining inflight shopping magazine behind the seats of many US domestic carriers (and online at skymall.com).
To call SkyMall merely a shopping magazine is to do it a grave disservice; it is actually a window into a parallel universe. Through SkyMall you will get a glimpse of a better you, a happier you, a you surrounded by products you never realised you needed but now can't imagine life without.
So sit back, relax and let me offer a tantalising taste of just how perfect your life could be.
It's morning. You're eased gently from your slumber by the sound of a forest stream and the aroma of lavender from your Peaceful Progression alarm clock ($US99.95, or $97). You're already dressed because you've been sleeping sitting up courtesy of the UpRight Sleeper neck brace ($US39.99), which, as a bonus, guarantees you a seat on the train because everyone assumes you've sustained a serious spinal injury.
Work is the very definition of fulfilment because of your Box of Applause ($US24.95), a handsome cherry-finished desktop chest, which, when opened, cheers and claps your every accomplishment. While colleagues might struggle with flyaway ties, you fearlessly tackle the gustiest of conditions safe in the knowledge that the two ends of your Magnetic Tie ($US49.99) will never be parted.
You're about to head home when disaster strikes: you're engulfed in a potentially lethal dose of hiccups. You quickly retrieve a Hicural Hiccup Stick ($US19.99 for three) from your dashing Traveller's Leather Hip Pouch ($US59.95). Time is of the essence. While biting the stick, you drink a glass of water. Incredible. They're gone. Works every time.
Back home, you crack open a beer and take a stroll in the garden. Lesser mortals would be forced back inside for a refill but you're wearing your Camo Six-Pack Holster ($US10), a camouflaged beer belt that holds six cans with ease.
You stroll past 2.5-metre-tall Mombasa the Garden Giraffe statue ($US995), who's cheekily glancing over the neighbour's fence, wave at Bigfoot the Bashful Yeti ($US69.95) as he peeks from behind the tree and take a seat next to the Zombie of Montclaire Moors ($US99.95), a zombie "captured in meticulous detail in quality designer resin" that's clambering out of the daffodil bed.
Dinner is a waffling masterpiece thanks to your Danish 5 of Hearts Waffler ($US68.50), and you retire to the lounge with a G&T chilled to perfection with two dachshund-shaped ice cubes ($US7.95 for a tray).
In skids Rusty, sliding adorably on the wooden floor in his fur-trimmed Pugz Dog Shoes ($US29.99). But what's this? He can't get on the sofa? Time for the Pet Ramp Staircase ($US159.95). He sniffs the Cupcake Food Pillow ($US19.95) suspiciously. He just can't believe it's not real. Heck, nor could you at first.
And with that, another perfect day in SkyMall World ends. You turn off the TV with a wave of your Magic Wand Remote Control ($US89.95).
When life is this good, who needs seat-back TVs?