Of course catalogs are arriving at our doors by the dozen at this season, every day their glossy pages spilling slippery through our letter-slots.
Lots of them I CAN resist. After all I can just choose not to open the skimpy lingerie catalogs with those poor cold girls, skinny as insects – but rhe mail-order items that do get my attention are the ones found advertised among the sober pages of the traditional old news magazines.
One example: I’m reading along about some country where they’re trying to actually SELL clean air to people, when all of a sudden there’s this ad with a picture of an old-fashioned model train chugging out from under the branches of an old-fashioned Christmas tree.
“Classic trains!” reads the text “Relive the magic of your childhood, when large metal trains were a part of every holiday season!”
Large metal trains, I sigh, growing instantly misty – and then I remember: We HAD large metal trains when I was little. We kids I used those sharp-edged bullion-bars of steel to clobber each other with. Then there was the year I got the wheels of one stuck in the thousand tendrils of curl that sprang from my scalp, causing me to run around the house dangling a Large Metal Train from my hair and shrieking, ‘til the grownups could figure out what to do about me.
Another example: I’m reading an article about teaching kids Phonics and here’s another ad: For a gizmo said to rid your home of “pests and vermin, mice, rats, roaches bats. Even raccoons and squirrels” the ad says.
“It delivers a tremendous blast of ultra-sound, inaudible to you and your pets“ that disrupts their nervous systems. “They’ll leave your home within a few weeks – never to return!”
It has volume-control and six variable pitches, depending on the size of the vermin, and already my fingers are reaching for the credit card, because don’t WE have such pests? Mice, when the weather turns cold? Egyptian meal moths the year round, raising their children in our cereal boxes. Bats and raccoons and I-don’t-know-what-all?
We had a serious infestation of squirrels in our last house. They threw parties inside the eaves, chattering just inches from our sleeping heads when their friends came over, and grimly chewing and chewing when they were alone.
In our desperation, we actually bought this device back then, or something very much like it. We never had the slightest notion whether or not it worked, its sound being inaudible and all. WE wound up moving instead.
So last week those two items tempted me.
But just the other night, and this is no word of a lie, I thought, “Never mind these silly toys and gizmos, why not use my credit card to order some nice books from Amazon the way you can so easily do these days?”
I decided on The Age of Innocence and Doctor Sleep. I entered my credit card number and pressed “Buy.” Then, well pleased with myself and humming a little tune, I decided to check my e-mail.
A message from Amazon – already!
‘This is to confirm your recent order,” it said.
- ‘Copies of The Age of Innocence: 1.
- ‘Copies of Doctor Sleep: 591.
- ‘$17,745 billed to your MasterCard. Payment authorized.”
Maybe these credit cards are deadlier than I thought.