Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today’s Deals



This morning I find a reminder e-mail from a bookstore Web site, and dutifully click on the link. I am greeted with, Hello, Katherine. We have recommendations for you. The computer spits my demographics at me. Forty-something working woman who drinks decaf coffee and sometimes likes to meditate. Oh, and she seems like she can lose a few pounds, if you note the South Beach diet products listed. Any product I have ever lingered over but not purchased greets me from the Recommendations list. One, a book On Being a Minor Writer, stings a bit. Is this what my computer really thinks of me?

The site’s got me all figured out. Well, almost. Although I am intrigued by the thought of marketing and computer geeks creating algorithms that help select what I “need”, I take great pleasure in running through “Today’s Deals” with a skeptical eye. I never knew I needed (greatly reduced) freshwater pearls, reconditioned framing nailers, or a jump starter with built-in radio. Lower down, some of those items I previously viewed but ultimately abandoned appear again, haunting me with their availability. Robert Frost and Yeats are 35% off! Hmmm…My cynicism softens. but just for a minute. It’s like a boyfriend who knows how to sweet talk me, but deep down I know he’s still the same old superficial dude. I’ll be visiting Niantic Book Barn again soon—no Yeats emergency that requires overnight shipping here.

I think about Today’s Deals, the ones that have nothing to do with calculated commerce. I get to blog this morning, a treat for a weekday. I took an early morning walk without looking at my watch--a day off pleasure I should enjoy more often. We are going to Vermont. Soon most of our family will be reunited, seeing Will, our youngest nephew, graduate. Yesterday’s Top Deals included finding an exotic darning-needle type bug on the porch, one that let Gavin and me hold it for quite a while before zooming off. In the evening, I showed Gavin two “secret” staircases that are often overlooked in Chester. Both are shaded by overhanging trees. The best deal was the almost-ripe strawberry that we pilfered from someone’s front garden in Chester. Gavin carried it home like a prize, showing it off to Tom and placing it in a clear Tupperware box for display. We discussed the merits of leaving the strawberry with its owners’ garden, but in the end it was irresistible.

These are the real deals. To borrow from the advertising line: Possible purchases from $87 and counting. Day to day moments with family and in nature: priceless.

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