I tend to view myself as an independent thinker. I’ve been a target of mass marketing, commercialism and political ideology like everyone else. But historically, I’ve congratulated myself on the ability to understand exactly what I’m hearing and maintain my own truths against the assault of outside influence. Deluded fool that I am. While out for a regularly scheduled run last Friday evening, I stopped dead in my tracks near the completion of mile five to face an uncomfortable truth: I am a member of the culture of consumerism’s well-tended flock of sheep.
It all started innocently enough. I jogged past a café and noticed an adorable red bicycle locked to a post. I own a cutie pie 2011 model red Schwinn Madison myself. However L’il Red is a bit beat up after high volume use, and an unfortunate wreck last Election Day that left me with a shattered tailbone and sacrum. I am healing slowly and nearly ready to terrorize the streets again. Thus I’ve been debating whether to take L’il Red to the bike hospital or upgrade to a newer model. So as I blew by the café and thought, “Oh! Sweet bike. I want!,” the reflection seemed appropriate.
Other thoughts of which I had no apparent control didn’t seem so logical:
Breezing past a convertible: “Wouldn’t I look cool driving that?” When I have my wits about me, I am THRILLED not to be a car owner. I live in the City of Chicago and wouldn’t go back to the parking hassles, gas prices and city sticker bullshit for anything.
“Those boots would look great with my long trench coat.” No they wouldn’t. I am a sensible shoe wearing lady – gym shoes, flip flops, hiking boots – and when I must dress it up, comfortable flats. Also, I never wear that trench coat. There’s this long, annoying slit in the back and when those famous Chicago winds kick up, the damned thing flies right open.
Trotting past a 7-11 window display: “Pepsi-flavored Cheetos are coming to the US? I have to try those.” I certainly do not. I loathe Pepsi products and the idea of uniting the flavor of the too syrupy cola with cheese flavored processed food should have immediately produced a stomach turn. Plus, um, I’M RUNNING AND THOUGHTS OF CHEETOS HAVE NO PLACE HERE!
And finally, the best for last: “Insidious Chapter 2 made $40 million at the box office last weekend. I wonder if it’s as scary as Saw.” No I don’t! You want to know why? Because I’ve never seen Saw. I avoid horror movies like so many Pepsi-flavored Cheetos because dammit, real life is scary enough. I can’t abide the sight of blood and violence, staged or otherwise. I watch most episodes of Grey’s Anatomy though my hands for Pete’s sake.
Oh the self-flagellation I have deservedly experienced since the conclusion of that eye opening jaunt around the neighborhood. Like the character of Silas, the albino Opus Dei monk featured in The Da Vinci Code, I feel the need for metaphorical bloodletting in order to cleanse myself of lemming disease. This might sound arrogant or naïve but I truly misunderstood the degree to which I am a product (pun intended) of the constant barrage of sales messaging. But now that I am aware of it, I vow to be more on my guard.
Got a bridge to sell me?