That’s Expletive Useful

We spend a lot of time here at Talos playing with the latest and greatest technology has to offer. As a departure from the norm, I want to spend this week reflecting on the simpler inventions in life. You know the ones—you probably scoffed at, pointing and laughing at the ridiculous people who would use such a idiotic thing. And then, well, you became one of those people. I have time and time again "become one of those people." I have an abundant appreciation for things that are actually useful and, also, an apparent disregard for the world's opinion of me.

It is the classic shower cap story. In my opinion, the shower cap is one of the most useful simple inventions, but also one that makes you look like the lead actress in a bad bubblebath commercial. I had never put on a shower cap and still remember joking to myself, "I should wear this out." But for a bit of plastic and a single elastic band, this invention patented in 1962 serves an extremely usable purpose. I have not yet found a better way to keep my hair dry when all I want to do is take is shower.

Below, I have listed just a few of the many inventions that I made fun of before I figured out they were expletive useful. 


I fell into another era of looking ridiculous when I received a snuggie for Christmas, circa 2008. I had spent the months before mocking infomercials of people curled up on the couch with their armed blanket. To my surprise, it really makes a sizable difference in your lounging experience when you can hold a cup of tea and still have your arms in the blanket. I took to wearing my snuggie around the house like a robe and hid my pride somewhere that I might be able to find later. 


Okay, gents or women with short hair may not understand this one, but for all you long-haired people, this changed my life. Again, the infomercial merchandise got me. I think turbie towels are the epitome of silly looking, but it turns out that not having all the excess bulk on your head trying to dry your hair with a full sized towel is the luxury I had been looking for. Plus, the little elastic that keeps it secure means that I can brush my teeth, put lotion on, and get dressed all without holding the towel on my head. 


I first fell in love with lanyards in college. My first one was purple and free from NYU as a "welcome" gift, although I thought of more like a "wear this and get mocked by the entire college for being a freshman" gift. But as soon as I realized that a simple piece of string meant that I could find me keys in a split second, I didn't care how stupid I look. And you don't have to be in college to have a hard time finding your keys. Whether they are around your neck, or you have a whole string to locate in a bag instead of just a key, lanyards are pretty dang useful.  


This might be the mecca of silly looking inventions. For years, I said to myself in airports, "Look at all those silly people wearing their neck brace pillows around." There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: airplane pillows make you look ridiculous. And, I am now proudly one of those ridiculous-looking people. I first caved three years ago when I was facing a 19-hour flight to South Africa and my mom insisted I would be happier with neck wear. Ever since, I have been a total convert, actively recruiting new people to don the pillow fashion because it’s expletive amazing. Instead of mocking fellow pillow wearers now, I silently congratulate them for finding the most useful invention on the planet and wearing it with their heads held high (thanks to the pillow). And to all non-pillow wearers: enjoy your jokes and chronic neck pain, suckers.

While, of course, there are many other useful simple inventions, I’ve found these to be the cream of the crop. We at Talos would love to hear about the inventions that find expletive useful in your own life, regardless of how ridiculous you might look. Leave us your recommendations in the comments section.