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Linda: In the mail

Along with the usual claptrap that comes in the mail disguised in brown "Official" envelopes, there was one last week that looked real tempting. As a rule, pitching that stuff is fun. Some admiration is due to the ingenious fashions in which those folks sending out mail solicitations and advertisements get us to open them up.

Usually a promise of something free must be quite effective, although I throw them first. Really free, well, that is a premise that takes some getting used to. Some envelope that says on it, in effect: "Open me, there's a free tv inside," must appeal to a certain type of person. I'm not that person. They must think I'm stupid. No tv can fit inside an envelope.

This envelope said on the outside: "Join in a class action lawsuit against big tobacco!" Hot damn! I looked at the envelope and thought to myself how good these people have gotten at their research on us individual Americans to know and target us with such intimate awareness of our thoughts and beliefs and pet fancies. It's nothing nowadays to get mail with your individual name, as in: "Dear Mr. Smith." Just think: They mail out millions of those things, and some computer somewhere prints them up at the speed of light with each of our names. How.... nice.

But when you start getting mail not only addressed to you personally but in addition marked on the outside with propaganda so specifically targeted to your personal whims and beliefs that you cannot but help opening it up, what's next? Here are some possible examples:

"Dear Mr. Smith," it might say on the outside of the envelope, "are you finally tired of your shorts smelling like a terrorist bomber's underwear immediately pre-explosion?" Or better yet, Mr. Smith's wife gets it and fulfills the mailman's creed by making certain that "neither rain nor sleet.....nor stink will stay the delivery of this letter," or something like that, and gives it to her underwear bomber.

"Dear Mrs. Smith: Have you had just about enough of your dog peeing over there between the lamp and the house plant that your mother gave you?" Scary, isn't it, when they know just where your dog is peeing? What? Is there really a camera in all new television sets that watches you and reports to the advertising bureau exactly what it is that they can sell you though direct mail solicitations?

"From the Office of the Executive Director: Want to know how to enlarge your: (Reader evidently picks the one that interests him or her the most.) A. Breasts; B. House plants; C. Earnings; D. Sexual knowledge? Open up and find the answers inside."

I'm not sure I'd open this one, but then there are lots of things I'm not sure about, so maybe I would. It sure wouldn't be because I want bigger breasts, so they missed on that one.

House plants? Well, just thinking about plants turning into jungle vines and triple canopy foliage and taking over the house turns me off just a little there, so, no jungle for me.

Earnings might be a winner, except the more I make, the more taxes they come up with, so that's hopeless.

Sexual knowledge? It's a little late for that, since the kids are all not only born but gone. I could have used some back then before the happenstance that produced them. At this point in my life I can see myself turning into the old gent who is walking in the woods one day and hears a voice that says: "Pick me up, I'm a magic frog." So he picks the frog up, who promptly tells him: "Kiss me, and I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He puts the frog in his pocket, from whence it asks him, disappointed: "How come you didn't kiss me?" To which he replies: "I've reached a point in my life where I think I'd rather have a talking frog."

Well, I've been thinking about that envelope and the lawsuit in which I'm invited to join against tobacco. Next week, I might pick that up.

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