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Who Ordered The Mail Order Catalogs?

Aug 18, 2007
I admit it. I need a twelve-step program for people addicted to mail order catalogs. I was clean and shopless for eight months. I was able to put every catalog that came in the mail into the wastebasket without opening a page.

Unfortunately, my resistance crumbled when I was marooned in a doctor's waiting room without a magazine - not even a three-month-old copy of Newsweek. The other patients, who were also trying to be patient, had taken all the reading material except one, dog-eared catalog.

Thinking I had conquered my addiction, I picked it up. Because I didn't feel my heart rate increase, I allowed myself to casually look through it. WRONG!

Although I tried to put the catalog down, it was too late. I'd seen a wall calendar on which a different family picture could be printed for each month.

I couldn't fight temptation. It would be a perfect gift for my mother-in-law and it's very hard to find a perfect gift for a mother-in-law. I told myself I'd send for just this one thing - and I did - from that catalog.

That catalog spawned other catalogs - catalogs for gadgets and clothing and sports equipment and food and more. I ordered a monogrammed bathrobe for my sister, eagle bookends for my uncle and a cat Frisbee for my dog. As long as I could rationalize I was ordering gifts I couldn't get locally, as long as I was buying gifts for other people, I remained in denial.

When I ordered a pen that contained a roll of paper, I knew I'd relapsed. I could hide this fact and the gifts from my family, but the mailman learned my dark secret as the number of catalogs I received increased. I became the Goldilocks of mail order catalogs. Some were too practical, some were too specialized, but some - okay, lots - were just right.

One egg poacher shaped like a hen is enough and two, musical, toilet paper dispensers was probably too many; but what woman could have too much jewelry? Unfortunately, the gold bracelet I ordered looked more like dental floss. If it doesn't say "actual size" on the catalog picture, it isn't.

Because I didn't need a present for my dentist, I sent the bracelet back. I'm not going to mail order again - even if I have to read dozens of catalogs to find a gadget to help me resist.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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