Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creating Want

The confluence of a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the launch of my second ever Christmas movie-viewing season (inaugurated in 2011 with the advent of a broken leg), nightfall at 4:30, and renewed anti-social hermit tendencies have erupted into long leisurely spells on the couch.

Last year, life on the couch was driven by the mending leg. This year, it's driven by a combination of factors. There's laziness. November and December are cold, and I just don't feel like bundling up to go out.

There's the financial factor -- extra gigs with ridiculously delayed payments that really put the "free" in freelance. Plane tickets home for Christmas. A pay cut in spite of the allegedly improving economy. House repairs. An unplanned visit to the vet with a dog with clogged anal glands and allergies that yielded a $140 cover charge.

As much as I could use a good stiff drink, I'd have to win the lottery first to pay for it. That leaves TV as the primary form of affordable (as in, already budgeted) escapism.

Lately, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel are the destinations of choice. Christmas movies set in snowy locations that remind me of New England (and sometimes actually are New England). People falling in love. Families fighting and laughing. Depictions of dressy Christmas parties and careers and friends and things I once had and long for again. It seems clear that TV movie scriptwriters are receiving major subsidies from the tissue companies. The few channels allegedly specializing in comedy are showing old stuff already seen 10,000 times.

The product marketers are doing a phenomenal job this year inventing the perception of needs and wants that were never even a snarky parenthetical comment in my world. It's everything I studied in my college marketing classes of so long ago. Usually I'm much more impervious to their efforts, but not lately. Over a decade living in the South is making me soft.

Until yesterday, I never knew there was a floor cleaning device called Shark that steam cleans hardwod and laminate, but now that I've seen it, I want to be dancing and floating through my house in a cloud of steam just like the lady on TV. She is 100 shades of happy in her steam cleaned modern mansion, so the logical conclusion is that if I want happiness I just need to get the Shark.

Before I've fully processed the new life I'll achieve with my as-yet-not owned steam-cleaning device, my needs are already being aroused for a one inch cube speaker gadget that serves as a speaker for an iPod, phone or computer. Then it's another need immediately created, this time for the home soda bottling gadget. I don't even drink soda, but this thing reminds me of the seltzer bottles that my former in-laws in the Bronx used to have periodically refilled and delivered by the seltzer man. In one commercial break, I've discovered three new ways to fix my life.

It will be interesting to see what new products I suddenly need tomorrow and over the next five weeks until Christmas. And after Christmas, it'll be time to settle in for the Valentine's onslaught of movies. I'm going to need to stock up on tissues.

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