To my surprise, I recently received in the mail a Montgomery Ward catalog with an eye-searing hot-pink cover stating in all caps: YOU ARE PRE-APPROVED. Intrigued, I opened it, and immediately a card fell out in the shape of a $100,000.00 check with the message, also in all caps: FINALLY, BURIAL INSURANCE YOU CAN AFFORD! Courtesy of Globe Life Insurance of New York. Immediately following that was another card advertising one of those uncanny-valley baby dolls by Ashton Drake, with the selling points of “hand-rooted hair and life-like features.” Card number three was from the Hamilton Collection, pushing some weird purple anime fairy, for which I was instructed to “send no money now,” then finally, a somewhat normal ad for an ugly topaz ring designed by Alfred Durante.
Once the rain of cards ended, I was able to flip through the pages of the catalog proper, and was immediately brought back to my childhood by the sight of a chenille bedspread. I had one of those as a kid in the exact same pattern, only in off-white instead of the acid yellow pictured, and I hated it. I’m not overly-sensitive to texture, but I hated the feel of the fuzzy stuff that sticks up and makes the pattern. Also, it wasn’t very warm, as I recall. There were four more pages of chenille bedspreads before it before it veered suddenly into the world’s most hideous collection of flouncy ruffled shower curtains. I can get an eleven-piece set in teal, it explained. I don’t want a teal shower curtain with any ruffles, much less multiple excessive ruffles, and certainly not an eleven-piece set of ruffled stuff for the bathroom. In the middle, it calmed down a little and showed some boring, middle-of-the-road china cabinets and such, then picked up its wicked ways again with five pages full of gaudy gold jewelry, finally ending with a collection of vacuum cleaners and cookware sets. It was quite the journey.
Flipping through an-honest-to-God paper catalog complete with ordering cards felt incredibly quaint. I don’t know how Montgomery Ward got my name and why they felt I would be interested in burial insurance, chenille bedspreads or flouncy shower curtains, but it’s obvious their marketing department thinks I’m an old. Fair enough, I suppose. Is there an age at which one’s brain neurology undergoes a sudden shift and you have an uncontrollable urge to buy things with ruffles and bedspreads from your childhood? Maybe Montgomery Ward is onto something, and instead of being incredibly out of touch and old-fashioned, they are on the cutting edge of medical science and know exactly what they’re doing. It’s a mystery worth contemplating. Now pardon me, I must go and order a mini-grandfather clock with an authentic swinging pendulum, and those over-sized turquoise earrings I’ve had my eye on.
So much fun to read, Kristen!!