Noodles, Banjos and More
Last weekend when I was dragged kicking and screaming
to a local mall, I decided to pay attention and actually look at the
stores that are in the mall. Don't ask me why. I'm usually walking
around outside the mall as if there were an outbreak of airborne
botulism descending upon the mall shoppers inside. This time
however, for whatever reason (and with my sort of mind sometimes
there is none), I decided to study how businesses lure people into
parting with their hard-earned money.
In today's cool-speak world, where cool people say "ciao" instead of
"goodbye" or "fridge" instead of "refrigerator", it seems that
business people have, once again, turned people's desire to be
"cool" into dollars.
Do you really think there's some suave dude named T.J. Maxx for
instance? T. J. Maxx would be about 35, sleek black hair, dark tan,
khaki pants, powder-blue custom-tailored, Egyptian cotton sport
shirt, John Lobb Loafers (no socks of course), leering blue eyes and
so forth. He's standing on the bow of his yacht "Eye Gotcha"
anchored in Charlotte Amalie, his perfectly coiffed hair blowing
dashingly in the warm Caribbean breeze, surrounded by a bevy of
20-something females. All, glowingly healthy, money-hungry, fawning,
bikini-clad, yapping women - all (ostensibly) vying for T.J.'s
affections - actually all vying for something else. Methinks it's
I saw a store called "Noodles". My first thought was, how can
someone pay $50,000.00 a month for tiny mall store front and make
money selling nothing but noodles? It exasperates me. I work hard
and make no money.
So I went inside. Naturally, like all stores so named, these aren't
your everyday Mrs. Weiss's Noodles, nope! These are noodles your
grandmother never even dreamed off. Thai noodles? Nigerian hopgrass
noodles? Siberian Bulgur noodles? Amazon River noodles? Huh? I'm a
fairly intelligent guy but what would I do with Simian blue-rice
noodles? Sprinkle them on ice cream? Make blue-noodle spaghetti with
bleu cheese sauce and blueberry-chutney meatballs?
Naturally, you'll pay a high price for such exotic noodles. One bag
I saw was $11.95 for four ounces of dry, rather moldy looking,
blue-green noodles. Now I know how they pay the $50,000.00 a month
lease. You know what they say about a fool and his money. But, if
you have to pay $11.95 for four ounces of trendy noodles to be cool,
I guess that's what you do. When you have your big dinner party and
invite a bunch of upscale, yuppie slime, you'll probably get a lot
of oohs and ahhhs. If you like ooohs and ahhhs then the $11.95 you
paid for those moldy noodles was worth it. I guess.
Mrs. Fields' cookie stores are everywhere. Every mall has one.
Unlike the suave but imaginary T. J. Maxx, Mrs. Field conjures up a
much different image. Women should be really angry at the guy who
invented Mrs. Fields (yes it was a guy). Mrs. Fields is a plump,
gray-haired, grandmotherly sort, wearing an apron, face and hands
covered with flour, rolling pin in hand, busily making her cookies
for her lovely Aryan children. No T. J. Maxx is she! She's sort of
the white version of Aunt Jamima - but that's another story all
together. When you pay $34.95 for 12 cookies, you know you're doing
something right. American marketing never ceases to amaze me. I bet
my grandmother's cookies were better than Mrs. Fields'. Mrs. Fields
is probably a sixty-two year old male tycoon who has spend most of
the last twenty years laughing his way to the bank. A cookie mogul,
Stores like "Only Banjos" make me laugh. Did you ever seen one? You
never see anyone buying a banjo. Would you ever really seriously buy
a banjo? OK maybe some of you would - but would millions of you run
out and buy a banjo right now? I really doubt it.
If you ever see one of these stores, stop and take a peek inside.
You'll see a cadre of old fellers sittin' 'round strummin' and havin'
a hootenanny right thar in the store. They ain't buyin' nuttin', but
they's havin' themself a ball! The only thing I can say about "Only
Banjos" is, the guy who thought of this idea must have too much
money and was desperately looking for a really humorous route to a
big tax write-off.
"Come listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed, who had a lot of
money and he slept with it in bed. Then one day the IRS came to call
- oh my gosh where can I hide it all?"
What the heck is Victoria's Secret anyway? It's no secret that, to
most men, the less clothes a woman wears, the more desirable she is.
Victoria's Secret? Educating women.
Victoria (who is probably a ribald, lascivious, rich,
old cad) is lucratively educating women about something that men
have known for about five billion years: When it comes to clothes on
women - less is better. Well, it's the truth! Yes, yes I know I'm a
prurient, male chauvinist pig - so shoot me!
That's enough, you get the point. Business types are always finding
ways to lure the dollars out of our pockets and into theirs - always
have and always will. Tapping into the cool-speak, 21st century
yuppies-nouveau, is a great way to sell a bag of noodles worth about
four cents for $11.95 - make people happy in the process. It's the
oohs and ahhhs factor - the price of being cool.
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