EBay sent me a little message, today.
Helen, it said, treat Dad with 20% off, and went on to offer me goodies like a treadmill or a multitool + sheath as the perfect Fathers Day gift.
This made me laugh a lot – but not all the way to the PayPal link to organise the transfer of the necessary hundreds. My dad has been dead for 38 years (and counting), and even if I put myself into a trance (I was a hypnotherapist in one of my previous lives) I doubt I could call up his shade to check his preference. (Some would disagree: it’s not something I am equipped to argue.)
But even as I was laughing, I was thinking how grossly tactless EBay was to send such a message. Fine for me. Thirty-eight years is a long time, and although I loved my dad and still miss him, he’d be 112 by now. And my husband – the other ‘dad’ in my life – has been dead for 26 years and would turn 88 this year, so in neither case am I likely to fall in a heap. (And anyway, perhaps it’s not in my nature. When Actors’ Equity billed by husband for his annual fee a month after his death, a wrote a letter that said something like, It may have escaped your notice that this member has died, despite the fact that a good percentage of your membership attended his funeral. I suggest you update your records.)
But not everyone is in my position, or a tough old bat in the first place, and it made me think about all the ads and marketing ploys that trample on people’s sensibilities on a daily basis. Tobacco advertising is banned, but other than that, it’s free slather.
Whatever your tender spot might be, you can pretty much guarantee that somewhere in their scrabble for higher profits, someone will wallop you right where it hurts most. Fat, thin, wrinkly, lonely, too hot, too cold, hungry, bald, flu-ridden, unemployed, grey-haired, in pain, tired… And even if you know it’s the biggest load of old rubbish ever perpetrated, it still hurts.
Unless you’re me: a hoary old cynic whose sore spots have long since calcified.