Wednesday, February 27, 2013

THE MUST-HAVE GENE


This Grinch can't understand those who are always hankering after the latest thing. The latest thing is all too soon superseded by the next latest thing, so there is no end to the hankering, and therefore no end to the misery. If there is any satisfaction to be had in that, it has to fit into the shortest time between two self-indulgences, based not on achievement or effort or planning but on the triumph of commercial persuasion over commonsense.
Triptych: Impatiens

I am, however, a lonely voice echoing in the wilderness, cast out there by banks and shops and even governments. And it's not even my fault. I was born without the must-have gene. I don’t remember ever being orgasmically delighted when I’ve bought something, however special. Mildly pleased is the best I can do. Then the something fades into the general scheme of things and becomes part of my surroundings. The chair is comfortable. The clothes fit. The plant is doing well in the corner of the garden.

I don't want diamonds, or holidays, or a new car. I don't care that my mobile phone is nowhere close to the latest there is. I don't want a bigger TV or a smarter phone or more than one watch or cupboards full of kitchen appliances which always turn out to be white elephants. I will only want a new computer when this one breathes its last, which won't be long now. And I once wanted a pen that could write in four different colours, but I have that now, although I didn't buy it, I won it. It amazes me that people can spend so much emotional capital, not to mention money, on a wedding day that is twenty four (not by a long shot the most important) hours in a lifetime of a gazillion hours. As Henry Thoreau said, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. Elope, people, elope!

It is a well-known fact that people like me are dangerous to the health of the economy. Banks hate us because we don’t rack up debt and therefore we don’t pay interest on our credit cards, which they depend on for their business enterprises. Stores hate us because we can’t be tempted by "Hurry!" "Interest Free!" and "Sale!" however screechily excited the pitch on television or radio. And governments can't make up their minds whether they hate us or love us. They send mixed messages: spend money and keep business moving one minute, and stop spending and save money for your retirement the next.

1 comment:

  1. My gene is a little weaker than most people: but every now and then . . .

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