I got an offer in the mail the other day for a free gift. A brightly colored, nicely printed brochure told me in a bold, sixty-eight point Helvetica, that if I bought their satellite dish or exercise bike or heart-lung machine, I forget which, these fine folks I’d never met would send me a gift, and get this… for free!
I was pretty happy about it, I remember at the time, because I make it a point never to pay for gifts. If I pay for a gift, maybe it’s just me, it’s a lot like going out and buying it myself. Back where I come from (the past) gifts were always free because they were… gifts. Holidays, birthdays, the refrigerator magnet from Pizza Hut. Comped. Gratis. “Hey, pal, it’s on me.” When grandma handed me a brightly wrapped package on Christmas morning I never got stuck with the tab. It was a gift.
We had free offers. Complimentary tickets. Bonus prizes. Sometimes an ad let us know that an additional tube of salve was going to be sent along as “The Salve Store’s gift to its loyal salve users.” But we were pretty secure in the knowledge that if someone was handing over a gift, we wouldn’t be footing the bill.
Ah, but that was then, I guess, and these are different times. Very different, in fact. So different, I find out, they’re very unique. These days, someone is always proclaiming the latest very unique movie, restaurant, amateur talent show contestant, or fill in the blank. A man on TV announced that very thing just the other day from behind a podium. So I figure he was in the know.
“Our country is faced with a very unique situation,” a trained spokesperson said sternly to the press, furrowing his brow on cue when he did so.
Uh-oh, I’m thinking. We’ve faced plain old, everyday unique situations before. Unique situations are one-of-a-kind, nothing-else-like-‘em predicaments, unknown territory, something we’ve never, ever seen before. So this new, very unique situation our country got itself into was less than one of a kind, I guess? Half of one of a kind? One of twice as many of a kind? I furrowed my brow, too.
Maybe he wanted to say, “Be afraid… Be very afraid” but they wouldn’t let him. He’s privy to special information, after all, most likely delivered to him in an envelope stamped: “Very Confidential.”
I’ve seen these envelopes. They scare me. I hope I never get one. I wouldn’t know what to do with the contents of a very confidential envelope. Not only am I not allowed to tell anyone else the deeply held secrets inside; they are so confidential I may not be allowed to tell myself this stuff. I can’t be trusted. I know me pretty well and I wouldn’t trust me either. How do I know where I’ve been?
Yes, in these super-sized mega platinum days more is more. Now very pregnant women get total makeovers from close, personal friends. Absolute strangers have complete meltdowns after checking their past medical history. And, as an extra-added bonus, over-hyped free gifts turn out to be utter disasters.
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