My parents, the time travelers


Now, my faithful readers, I have already told you how my mother was in tune with the genius that is the half-pint performer of brilliance: Prince.

Now where was my father? Let me tell you, Dad was demonstrating the future revolutions in commerce!

How so you say?

Well there is a certain point where a young man starts to wonder about the world outside. The gentleman learns that the best way to get in communication with this bigger, wider world is to check the mailbox. This truth was canonized in “A Christmas Story” where we see Ralphie check the mailbox daily for precious treasures from beyond.

I suspect the mailbox has become virtual in these times.

Oftentimes when most people visit the mailbox they find a few bills, a magazine, the weekly neighborhood gazette, etc.

Not so at my childhood home.

The aforementioned things were there, to be sure, but at a gross weight comparison, approximately 80% of the mail was comprised of catalogs.

I’m not just talking J. Crew and LL Bean here. I’m talking shoelaces for tall men, pants for tall men, epicurean food preparation utensils, et. al. Dresses, Victoria’s Secret Catalogs (w00t!), ads for the penny for 12 CD, People Magazine.

Now to be fair, Dad is 6'7" - pret-à-porter n’existe pas for him.

Now the golden score in the mail is the PARCEL key. You see, if there were parcels that wouldn’t fit in our communal mailbox, the mail worker would put the parcel an one of two larger bins and put the key in your box.

I suspect my family’s box (#5) held the yearly record for ownership of the parcel key. You see, it wasn’t just that my dad received a lot of catalogs, he ordered tons of stuff from them!

In the mathematics that the world came to know from spam email, Dad’s penchant for purchasing from periodicals assured our address would get circulated amongst all the legions of distributors of CARAT-sort mail.

I recall one of our neighbors who checked our mail while we were out on vacation saying that we received more catalogs than anyone else they ever knew. They had to put our mail in 3 paper grocery sacks instead of their customary one sack.

Oftentimes I recall heading down to dad’s mail-hideout (sic intended) and finding him lounging in his underwear tearing open the parcel packets neatly open (so that he could return items that failed to satisfy).

Now this was in the late eighties, early nineties. I ask you, my readers of the generation, is it not one of the finer pleasures of life getting your web commerce ordered loot at the end of a day of work, slipping into something more comfortable, and trying it on / slotting that eBay won DVD / curling up with that Amazon book?

What dad had hit upon, was presaging, was the notion of customized product being demanded nay, expected.