There are many
reasons why I hate shopping. I was reminded of one yesterday. I had
stopped at the grocery store, thinking I could dash in and pick up a
few items. That was my first mistake. The second was starting in the
orange juice aisle. The orange juice aisle stretches out for miles.
orange juice, and then original plus calcium. Then there’s “country
style” which I guess must be different than your urban, street
wise, hip-hop orange juice. Another boasted extra vitamin E, C and
bits of zinc, which didn’t really sound appetizing. Two others
claimed to be “home squeezed” and “home squeezed with calcium”
but I swear no one’s been to my home to press oranges lately.
There was also pulp free, low acid, orange tangerine, orange
cranberry and something called “orange passion.” I didn’t even
know oranges had love lives.
Now, because I’m a
writer with a philosophical turn of mind, and also (ahem) because I
got locked in the store overnight while trying try decide between 11
juices, I thought about this a lot. I asked myself: A) Just how much
of the way we live our lives is dictated by product choices and
advertising? and B) What horrors await me in the coffee aisle?
Consider cars: they’re
just a box on four wheels right? Don’t be silly. Thanks to Madison
Avenue ad agencies, your choice of car represents an entire
Four door sedan - You
are a cubicle commando who spends too much time commuting back and
forth to work. The people at the easy listening radio request line
know you by name.
Pickup truck - You
must be a Jeff Foxworthy groupie, a construction worker, a farmer or
all of the above.
SUV - Overworked,
overstressed, underpaid soccer Mom. Do not cut her off on the
highway, or else, okay?
Teeny tiny two door
hatchback - Greenpeace member who hates the idea of using fossil
fuels at all or a transplanted European who just can’t deal with
the size of North American cars.
A little red sports
car - Obviously you must be a cute, smart, humour columnist.
Or, to get back to
food for a moment, what about our meals? There are those of us who
like nothing better than to start the day off with a piece of cherry
pie and whipped cream. But we are shunned and persecuted by society,
because as every one knows, only cereals like Fruit Coated Sugar
Bombs with Marshmallow Shapes are suitable for breakfast.
dictates what we drink. For instance: beer is for sporting events
(and guys who drive pickup trucks). Wine is for cultural soirees (or
overworked soccer Moms who need to take that edge off). Pretty mixed
drinks are supposed to be for women (or for sedan drivers, but only
on holiday in Hawaii where their buds from work can’t see).
Champagne is supposed to be for romance, I guess because nothing
says love like fizz up your nose.
And speaking of
love... Valentine’s Day? Every year, succumbing to intense
advertising pressure, normally sane men pay up to $100 to bring 12
roses home to die in a vase. Obviously, this is ridiculous pandering
to consumer culture. It’s much more sensible to bring home $100
worth of chocolate.
Or diamonds? Quite
possibly the most common ‘precious’ stone on earth, De Beers did
such a good job of establishing the “tradition” of a diamond
engagement ring back in 1939, that woe betide a modern man if he
doesn’t buy a rock for his fiancee. Especially if he doesn’t
know what betide means.
Advertising has even
changed the shape of our families. It used to be that grandparents,
parents, children and even aunts and uncles shared a home. But it’s
hard to convince people that they need more than one microwave per
household, so we’ve set up a system that makes everyone want to
live separately. This means commercials targeted at youngsters
(Message: Eighteen and still living at home? You’re a weenie!) and
at parents (Message: Forty-five and still don’t have a separate
rec room? You’re a bigger weenie!).
I’d say more, but I
see we’ve run out of bread. I had a peek at the bread aisle before
and figure I’d better leave now. It could take me all day to
figure out what sort of lifestyle statement I want to make with my