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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Readers Blog: Open Heart Blog

Extra Redundant

        Someone offered me a free gift in the mail last week. A brightly colored, nicely printed brochure told me in a bold forty-eight point font, that if I bought their satellite dish or exercise bike or dialysis machine, I forget which, these fine folks I’d never met would send me a free gift.

        I was pretty happy about it, I remember at the time, because I make it a point never to pay for gifts. Paying for a gift, maybe it’s just me, is a lot like buying it myself. Only I don’t get to pick it out.

        Back where I come from (the past) gifts were always free. Holidays, birthdays. The refrigerator magnet from Pizza Hut. Comped. Gratis. “Hey, pal, it’s on me.” When grandma handed me a brightly wrapped package on Christmas morning I never got stuck with the tab. It was a gift.

        We had free offers. Complimentary tickets. Bonus prizes. Sometimes an ad let us know that an additional tube of salve was going to be sent along as “our gift to you.” But we were pretty secure in the knowledge that if it was a gift, we wouldn’t be footing the bill.

        Ah, but that was then, I guess, and these are different times. Very different, in fact. So different, I find out, they’re very unique. These days, someone is always proclaiming the latest very unique movie, mail order product, restaurant, or (fill in the blank). A guy on TV announced that very thing just the other day. He was behind a podium, so I figure he was in the know.

        “Our country is faced with a very unique situation here,” a trained spokesperson said sternly to the press, furrowing his brow on cue when he did so.

        Uh-oh, I’m thinking. I’ve been faced with plain old, everyday unique situations before. They’re one-of-a-kind, nothing else like ‘em predicaments, unknown territory, something we’ve never seen. In short— trouble. So this new situation we got ourselves into was less than one of a kind, I guess. Half of one of a kind? One of twice as many of a kind? I furrowed my brow, too.

        Maybe he wanted to say, “Be afraid… Be very afraid.” but they wouldn’t let him. He’s privy to special information, after all, most likely delivered to him in an envelope marked: “Very Confidential.”

        I’ve seen these envelopes. They scare me. I hope I never get one. I wouldn’t know what to do with the contents of an envelope like this. Not only am I not allowed to tell anyone else the deeply held secrets inside; I may not be allowed to tell myself this stuff. I can’t be trusted. I know me pretty well and I wouldn’t trust me either. How do I know where I’ve been?

        Yes, in these super-sized mega platinum days more is more. Now very pregnant women get total makeovers from close, personal friends. Absolute strangers have complete meltdowns. And, as an extra-added bonus, over hyped free gifts just turn out to be utter disasters.

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