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The Catalog Conspiracy

Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007, at 8:14 AM

I have recently learned how easy it is to trigger an invasion of catalogs! A couple of months ago, I ordered a clever "Big Guy"/"Little Guy" set of t-shirts and caps for my son and grandson. In my limited exposure to the outside world, living as I do on a remote wooded hilltop, I had never seen such a cute, clever item, so I just had to buy it for my grandson's first birthday and his daddy's first Father's Day!

So far, so good. Paragon charged me an arm and leg, I thought, but I got what I wanted, and they look adorable in them.

Little did I realize that this innocent purchase, made in the privacy of my rural Advance home, would prompt an assault from the world of knick knack, brickabrac, just-gotta-have, most-useless-item-in-the-world nonsense!

I wrote in a recent heat-inspired blog about the "Casual Living: a lighthearted approach to life" catalog that I received, prompting me to daydream about deserting my hilltop home and spending a few weeks away on a pre-hurricane Gulf beach...

Well, it seems that the door has been opened, and I have received five more catalogs, not counting the ones I immediatly pitched. It's taken a while for me to realize that a conspiracy is in place.

Using my newly-discovered, favorite online "Psychology Today" mind set, I have had another epiphany! The advertising ploy is extremely clever! The idea is to focus your campaign on a specific lifestyle, tapping into the human mind's deep-seated desire for the "Good Life," - prosperity, social acceptance, beauty, and leisure (known on a practical, no-nonsense level as 'just wasting time.')

The "Casual Living" catalog used a subliminal appeal to women of casual elegance, whose primary activity seemed to be to lounge on their beach patios and have garden parties. It featured "shimmery tropical chimes," "glistening capri sets," "slimming swimsuits which make the legs look longer," and "chic suede loafers." Get it? "Loafers"? Yeah, loafing in luxury at the surfside getaway. Ahhhh! (Beautiful shot of the beach, the surf, shorebirds...)

What hot, harried, overworked, frowzie old gal like me can resist such a psychological assault? It took all my practically non-existant willpower to make me realize that even if I order that "glamourous '40's look maillot swimsuit," I will NOT look like the model in the catalog!

Yesterday, however, the catalog conspiracy continued with the delivery of two more glimpses into the world of the elegant Upper Crust. "NorthStyle" arrived all the way from Chelmsford, Maine. You guessed it! This appeal was designed to drag me off the beach and up to the North Country, perhaps all the way to Alaska! Looking through the earth-toned sweaters and "Cabin Life lamps," I can see myself, clad in an "Icelandic hand-embroidered snowflake jacket" or a "wandering moose fleece top," which will "chase away the cold." Add a "significant other," and the daydream is complete, girls!

Also arriving in yesterday's mail from Chelmsford, Maine is the ultimate in useless stuff - "Expressions: Autumn's Bounty of new ideas..treasures to admire, give & keep, throws to chase the chill, and no-fuss furnishings." The creative advertisers from Chelmsford have really missed the boat on this one, folks! Little do they realize that you don't send catalogs with $399 "mermaid and seahorse wall art" to a goat herder in Tillman, Missouri!

By now, I get it! Yeah, I get it! Advertisers have hired high-priced psychologists to help them formulate catalogs to appeal to Everyman's desire to have a certain lifestyle. Just look through the catalogs and pick out the lifestyle you can afford.

Do you think Dollar General has a catalog?

From the dry, cracking hills of Tillman, Madeline signing off...

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Yep, Madeline, they've got your number! I ordered a religious item several years ago and soon was bombarded with requests to purchase a few drops of water in a teeny bottle straight from Lourdes, along with countless pleas to help feed children in countries I've never heard of. On the upside, most of the pleas arrive with free return address labels. I've acquired enough for a lifetime (if I don't live too long and I don't ever move). Wonder if they'd send me some with the local nursing home's address on 'em!

-- Posted by bringwine on Wed, Aug 22, 2007, at 6:26 PM

Madeline, why didn't you give them your email address? Then you could really experience the joy of all kinds of interesting offers tailored to tap into your psyche of what you've always wanted -- but just didn't know it!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Aug 22, 2007, at 8:34 PM

Hahaha! Same thing happens when you contribute to one animal rescue agency. You get bombarded by the ASPC, the Humane Society of America, the North Shore Animal League, PETA, the National Wildlife Federation, Save the Whales, Save the Wolves, Save the Seals, and several other groups I don't recognize. Oh, yes, and Green Peace. Most of them send out the return address labels with the cute little puppies, kittens, wolves, seals, etc. and etc., ad infinitum!

I used to think I had to send them a contribution in order to use the labels. Hahahaha! Now, if they send the labels, they're MINE!

Viva la FREE STUFF!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Aug 22, 2007, at 8:59 PM

Maddie you have had it, your name and address is for sale now you will get it all but not is all bad it is good business for the Postal Service and for the recycle people so be glad you are helping a lot of people keep their jobs, and look at another way all your ailments from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet are covered with their cures.

-- Posted by rusty nail on Thu, Aug 23, 2007, at 6:38 AM

Many years ago I subscribed to a magazine called "Mother Earth News." It was an interesting magazine at a time when I leaned a little more toward the "excentric" life. Oh. My. Gosh!!! They obviously sold my name to the biggest collection of the weirdest companies on planet Earth. For years afterwards I got the strangest catalogs. It made for interesting if sometimes confusing light reading. I was soooooooo relieved when it finally stopped and I'll never do that again.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Aug 23, 2007, at 8:39 AM

It could be an urban legend, but to prove my college alma mater sold our personal info, someone sent in a free offer with the university's presidents name horribly, but amusingly misspelled.His correct address,email & phone number were provided too, so the tale goes, to see how he appreciated it!

A horrible prank if it is true,not to mention illegal on some scale!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Thu, Aug 23, 2007, at 9:45 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Wow, did you ever hear how that prank turned out?

I can only respond that I no longer receive 30, yes 30, credit card offers every week.I know the President's credit rating had to be better than some poor college students, so I heard that he had to go to the post office to pick it all up,too much for home delivery!

Of course,I also tear up every card offer,even the envelope it came in, and mail it back to them in their prepaid envelope! I do what I can to help the fine folks at Shredder #13!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Fri, Aug 24, 2007, at 10:32 AM

Hahaha! Yellow Rose, you need to write a book on how to avoid telephone and postal harassment!

I live out in the middle of nowhere, and even out here, I've caught someone going through my dumpster!! Who knew??

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Aug 25, 2007, at 7:35 AM

I use to fill the prepaid envelopes with gravel... and then send them back.

-- Posted by Coach on Mon, Sep 3, 2007, at 1:34 PM

Perhaps we should fill them with shredded oleander and kudzu leaves.

-- Posted by letseatcake633 on Mon, Sep 3, 2007, at 3:50 PM

How about poison ivy leaves and stems? Boy howdy, that would teach them to leave us off their mailing lists. Hahahahaha. Makes me feel good just thinking about the resulting itches. But wait, the Dept. of Homeland Security might think we're bio-terrorists if we send poison ivy through the mail. I'm almost willing to risk it.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Sep 5, 2007, at 2:34 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Ah, I was just talking about poison ivy on another blog! It makes me itch to even think of putting it into an envelope! I don't wanna get anywhere near that stuff!!

Yes, you'd have to be careful and use disposable gloves. I'd still like a little longer to relish the mental image of a mass marketing person scratching like crazy. Sweet revenge.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Sep 6, 2007, at 1:13 PM

Oh, Ducky, dear! You are most deviously and outlandishly CRUEL to think of such a method of revenge! I'd hate to make you mad at me!!!

Maybe we could pack some limberger cheese in the envelope!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 8, 2007, at 6:59 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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