A local bank is running an ad which I hear on the radio but it may also be a TV ad, the key word is "UN-SPEND". Instead of paying a gym fee to use a treadmill, run outdoors, drink tap water instead of bottled water, etc. And put the money you save into an account in that bank. When I hear that I think, even Madison Ave. is playing on the overwhelming feeling that ordinarily people have that we are in for an increasingly rough financial period. I've always considered the gym thing a social phenomenon, a place for people to show off their good intentions and their good bodies or good intentions toward their bodies. We know most people don't use their gym memberships enough to get their money's worth and home treadmills are mainly clothes racks. Many people need support in their exercise efforts so they band with friends for weekend walks or runs -- good. Why not? It doesn't cost anything -- until you finish and you all go for brunch feeling righteous about the exercise and free to have that bloody Mary and eggs Benedict -- that's not quite unspending. For my part, I walk, alone but usually with a destination.
The bottled water phenomenon has astonished me since it started and it's permutations seem endless, flavors, vitamins, caffeines. In some cities and towns the tap water doesn't taste very good. If it has a mineral or chlorine scent I understand bottled water or purifiers. Here the tap water is good. I have a couple of plastic bottles that originally had purchased water in them but are regularly refilled from the tap. And why do people suddenly think they must drink all day? What is this constant oral gratification thing, whether water or coffee? Would those people be smoking if they weren't sipping? Then there's the glut of bottles, not only on land but in the oceans. A whale might be carrying 100 pounds of plastic bottles in his stomach, or more. What a horrible thing to do to our noblest sea creature!
The ad world prospered pushing these and endless other extravagances -- like SUVs, like all that hair goop that crowds our drug stores, like all those household cleaners and detergents -- and now one lonely bank is trying to reverse the good old capitalist buy-buy-buy motto. Good luck, buddy. Yes, we need to save but people are losing faith in banks and don't have the money to save anyway.
I don't think that campaign is going to get very far with the younger set -- my definition of younger is under 50. It's we older ones, some of whom remember that hair doesn't have to be conditioned and gelled and sprayed after every shampoo, that family can all fit into a sedan, that coffee and tea can be brewed at home, cookies and even pizza can be made a home -- yes, and jam and hamburgers and blueberry pies. Not all gardens have to be organic. I grew up eating the beans, corn, tomatoes and potatoes from a garden that was sprayed occasionally to kill the bad bgs. Those poisons didn't poison me or anyone I know. Some of us remember a lot of "unspending" -- like making our own clothes, knitting scarves and even hanging clothes on a line in the backyard to dry in the sun. Maybe a little recession and a lot of global warming will teach us a few values -- but I really hope it won't be the big recession I hear rumbllings about and that the climate changes we already see will prompt creativity and thoughtfulness in solving the problems facing us. It's a lot to ask of several million people who lemming-like flock to the Disney parks for "fun" while turning inward to the iPod in their ears, and the cell phone to talk and text.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!