Dr. Leonard’s House Calls

Antoine Roquentin’s joy of seeing his name on an envelope is something to behold, yet to have one’s name on the back page of Dr. Leonard’s Catalog is another matter entirely.

Two years ago, I began receiving their catalogs, possibly due to an order for some arch supports from another company who passed my name and address to the healthcare provider.

It’s likely that I’m seen as a potential buyer for items like a Rollator, Tummy Trimmer, Gopher Pick-Up, and Diabetic Men’s Dress Socks. While I receive other mailers and items, I can always count on Dr. Leonard’s to arrive with a multitude of items from the necessary to the superfluous.

For instance, are you looking for an alarm clock? How about one that projects the time onto your ceiling? Or perhaps a Jumbo Satin Sleep Cap that can accommodate even the fullest hairstyles? All of this can be found thanks to Dr. Leonard and his cart of wares, bringing a little more uncertainty and mortality into our lives.


When catalogs from Dr. Leonard began arriving at my house, it didn’t take me long to come to three realizations: (1) Dr. Leonard is a fraud; (2) he assumes his customers are particularly gullible; and (3) the products advertised within the catalogs are meant to capitalize on feelings of helplessness.

His marketing strategy is centered on a subtle suggestion that life is difficult, and his items are meant to ease these problems. My personal ailments, for instance, include an inability to control my bodily functions, persistent animal visitors, and an inability to reach troublesome itches. The Long-Reach Lotion Applicator, priced at $12.99, is a perfect example of such a product.

My feet are an absolute source of distress, day and night. It seems like my feet are constantly plagued by bunions, corns, weak ankles, fallen/falling arches, ingrown/too-tough-to-cut/too-brittle nails, cracked heels, fungus, hammertoes, and overlapping toes.

Fortunately, Dr. Leonard’s provides a variety of products to help, ranging from the Electric Callus Remover, to salves and gauzes, to the “professionally designed” Toe Straightener (which is not pleasant).

The collection in the catalog is remarkable in that it doesn’t separate the essential from the trivial. There is a wide variety of products, some of which address issues that most people never considered before.

The female models in the photos appear to be serene and carefree, displaying items ranging from denture adhesive to bed pads to car covers.

A peculiar image on page twenty-eight, however, caught my eye: a woman with her eyes closed, mouth slightly ajar, seemingly in the throes of a one-hour orgasm. This is due to the addition of the book, The One-Hour Orgasm Book, to Dr. Leonard’s inventory of risqué products.

After a couple of months had gone by and my initial reaction to this Dr. Leonard had been to dismiss him as nothing but a charlatan, I now had the opportunity to analyze his wares with greater scrutiny. He was not interested in people who were actually ill; rather he wanted me to be robust, yet somewhat anxious, and to feel a sense of naivety. Is this room chilly? Am I wearing my dentures securely? Did I wet myself, again?

The doctor desired me to be in a vulnerable enough condition to buy his Coral Calcium Supreme, the so-called “elixir of life” concocted by Bob Barefoot, who noticed that the inhabitants of Okinawa, Japan, often lived up to one hundred years without any health problems.

He likewise wanted me to be disordered enough that I’d buy a Q-Ray® Ionized Bracelet® as well as a 3-in-1 Appliance Center with a coffee maker, toaster oven, and griddle to have “all you need to cook a tasty lunch, yummy dinner, or fabulous breakfast”.

But what if I wanted a fabulous breakfast or a yummy dinner? Above all, Dr. Leonard wanted to shatter any notion I had of the convenience and ease of everyday life.

For this feeling, there must be a Spanish phrase that aptly describes it: las muertes chiquitas, which translates to “little deaths”.

The feeling is present in Dr. Leonard’s dusk and deep winter catalogues, where a vast array of products are presented in a unified voice. Nothing is divided; instead, the entirety of the suffering is visible in the juxtaposition and repetition of the products.

As an example, page 34 of a recent catalogue displays a denture repair kit, psoriasis cream, deluxe ball-of-foot cushion, ring size adjustors, eye sticks, sheet keepers, miracle fade cream, bra extenders, and instant touch up temporary hair color, all presented with an enthusiastic megaphone-like tone.

From the Easy Care Nightgown to the Sheath Urinal Kit, each item is given equal attention, with the message that one can say goodbye to ugly skin blotches, surround eyes with a shield from harmful rays, and stretch tight shoes to reduce discomfort.

The product descriptions in the catalog are so simplified and deceiving that it’s as if they were written in another world. Take, for example, the Copper Ankle Bracelet ($4.99) advertised as “having pain-relieving benefits for centuries.” This is the same as claiming that night air caused disease or that alchemy was possible – beliefs that are no longer accepted. Then there is the Instant Gold ($19.99 $14.99) that promises to give a 24K gold-plated finish that won’t chip or peel, as if jewelry could get ill.

This is a classic bait and switch tactic, where a customer is enticed with incontinence supplies, only to be presented with Q-Ray® Bracelets®, Snap-On Watches, Fashionable Magnifying Glasses, and even dildos.

This “convenient” “lifestyle” assortment makes up the bulk of the catalog, leading to unlikely combinations like the GS-27® Auto Scratch Remover being sold next to Hernia Relief Shorts – a profitable situation for the catalog.

People who come for the Hernia Relief Shorts are likely to stay for the Auto Scratch Remover, the Deluxe Card Shuffler, the Brush-N-Color, or the Ottoman with Hidden Storage Compartment.

Did you know that many items belonging to Dr. Leonard have been featured on the TV? It is easy to tell which ones, as they will have a red, square “As Seen on TV” logo on their image. It does not matter if I have seen the Pedal Pusher (“walk while you sit!”) on TV or not; someone out there has and that is all that is important.

The catalog is full of scientific phrases and jargon. Waterproof Pants are made from “special” vinyl; all leather products are “genuine” leather; and the Genuine Leather Wallet is “easy to carry in the pocket.” Everything is Deluxe, Special, Ultra, Easy, Natural, or 100 percent something. Dr. Leonard makes even the most ordinary objects seem new with phrases like “Sweet dreams are guaranteed when you use this beautiful, rainbow-pattern bedspread.… Imported!” Just like my Reeboks!

The words of Dr. Leonard often seem to be those of an overly enthusiastic madman. For instance the Cobbler Apron is depicted as “vividly colored” with an array of floral prints all of which could be chosen for you. Pro Clearz™ toe-fungus remedy is advertised as coming with its own brush.

The Talking Watch, Eagle Eyez® and Neoprene Weight-Loss Shorts are all stated to be suitable for both men and women. Waterproof Pants are said to be able to be reused hundreds of times after being washed.

The Classic Poplin Driving Cap is said to be suitable for both rural and urban settings. Bed Risers are able to elevate beds to hospital height. Lastly, Velcro Tape is said to have an endless range of possibilities.

What options might I have? Is my whimpering loud enough for anyone to hear? Could someone kindly apply some “non-greasy” Pain-Away™ “spray-on pain blocker” to me ($7.99)? If you’re feeling extra generous, perhaps you could provide me with some Frankie Avalon’s Zero Pain™ “odorless roll-on pain reliever,” which has been “used by hundreds of thousands of pain sufferers” ($14.99)?

After a while of examining Dr. Leonard’s inventory, it appears his minor habits take on a more sinister tone: the way he spells the word stretch s-t-r-e-t-c-h when referencing the Professional Shoe S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r and the Waistband S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r; one of the feet in the Dr. Scholl’s ads is always depicted standing on its tip; exact numbers and sizes are listed for each item – from the U.S. Quarters Album (13.74″ x 8.5″ open; folds to 6.9″ x 8.5″) to the Pine Tar Soap (eight oz.); Dr. Leonard presents all his wares as “Safe & Effective”; the clothing for women is deliberately featureless, designed for passing out in.

Additionally, there are risqué items up for sale.

Why, oh mighty God, is the United States’ leading discount healthcare catalogue filled with questionable items such as dildos? Even the Eroscillator® looks like something you would see in a dentist’s office, with its three intensity levels and advertising featuring Dr. Ruth Westheimer. It should be noted that the doctor’s name is a trade name, not related to any actual licensed physician.

The catalog also offers penis pumps and videos that are meant to enhance sex, as well as two types of erection helpers. One is called Erexcel®, a comfortable adjustable band, while the other is Rejoyn®, a reusable and washable sleeve made of Santoprene® rubber that allows a man to have sex with or without an erection.

I was reminded of my grandmother’s composition book that was left in her guest bathroom. The cover said “Interesting Facts about Sex over 70”, yet there was nothing written inside. She clearly had no idea what she was getting herself into.

The items of a more naughty nature are likely only available for purchase with the expectation that a teenager in Albany will use his parents’ credit card to acquire them.

(Though it does say in small print below the Natural Contours Waterproof Personal Massager [read: shower dildo], “You must be 21 years or older to order Sexual Aids or Videos.”) For the fourteen-year-old Albanian, the “Totally Nude Aerobics” video and DVD would likely be a popular choice.

The idea of “Totally Nude Aerobics” is quite simple as the description explains, “exercise and erotica become one!” I feel this will make life much more exciting than having to do aerobics and then masturbate.

The exact description says, “Get ready for an exciting workout, as lovely instructors teach you how to shape, firm, and tone every muscle in your body. In ‘Totally Nude Aerobics’ you’ll do stretching, crunches, mat work, and more. And since you can see the naked and well-toned bodies of the female instructors, you can follow each exercise and understand how to get the best possible muscle extension and position.”

It may not be unexpected, but it is disconcerting that the naughty items are randomly distributed throughout the catalog, blending eros and thanatos. Right next to the Waterproof Cotton Briefs–“The quiet and subtle cotton is much more comfortable than the noisy vinyl panties”–you can find the Arousal™ Cream For Men, with its religious-like description, “Thousands of men have put an end to their suffering and found joy once more.”

The array of questionable items Dr. Leonard has procured to address sexual dysfunction is analogous to his generosity: it appears legitimate, but has a deleterious effect.

His intention may be to comfort, but with forty-eight pages of seemingly beneficial, yet overbearing and inexpensive devices, the result is a stifling experience. Such items include the Health Shoe, Button Helper, Lighted Magnifier, Clear Vue™, Long-Reach Shoehorn, Haircutting Umbrella, OxiClean® Wipes, Total Foot Recovery™ Cream, Mealtime Cover-Up, Portable Bidet, Female Stimulation System, SofTop® Non-Binding Socks, the Laminating Machine, Arthritis Gloves, Talking Pedometer, and Non-Slip Terry Grip Deluxe Loungers.

I have moved twice and both times, Dr. Leonard was able to find me. A few months ago, I decided to purchase Margaret McCarthy’s Letter Writing Made Easy!, which has hundreds of example letters for a variety of occasions.

One of these letters dealt with “[ the behavior you displayed/your use of foul language ] during your last visit to our home”, which was deemed inappropriate considering the children present. As an added bonus, my order also included two 14K-gold heart-shaped bookmarks, a handheld mirror, a Living Will Kit, and a coupon for 25 percent off the new Ab Swing® lower-ab machine.

The superfluousness, conceit, and nervousness of Dr. Leonard’s handouts are an unbearable wealth. ✯

Rather than relying solely on one’s own efforts, it is beneficial to seek assistance and advice from others.

Obtaining the opinions of others can be immensely helpful in achieving one’s goals, as they may provide insights that one may have overlooked. It is often advantageous to collaborate with others in order to gain a broader perspective and a greater understanding of the task at hand.


Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body (Feminist Press, 2021), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender fiction, as well as Slug and Other Stories and Remember the Internet: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring.

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