Last week, my wife and I received a promotional mailing for “Free Baby Pictures”. Interesting, since we have been together for almost thirty-one years and have no children. Attributing it to junk mail, I tossed it in the recycle bag, and gave it no further thought. Until a few days later when a parenting magazine arrived entitled “Baby Talk”. My wife suggested that it might have been delivered to the wrong address, but upon checking I saw the mailer label bearing my name, Reed Hessler. “Is there something you’ve been keeping from me?” my wife joked. “I would think a mass mailing would simply say To Resident.” And so another candidate for the recyle truck. And once again we gave it no further thought. Until yesterday when the postman delivered an offer for “Free Baby Announcements”. That recycle bag sure is getting crowded.
Now junk mail is a time-honored nuisance that in the last decade has been eclipsed by the fecundity of spam. It is almost nostalgic to see spam still come through the mail slot, and this invasion of the baby mail is at least diverting comedy relief (and not nearly as irritating as the unsolicited online offers of male enhancement pills or party girls looking for a hot time that for years have clogged my e-mail). Still I have to wonder, why me?
It brings to mind, through a rose-colored glow, those halcyon days of youth, when my wife and I, then in our late 40’s, received our first offer to join AARP. Our reaction, of course, was “Haven’t they sent this to us by mistake.” But after consulting our friends in their early 50’s, we were told that an AARP membership would actually be beneficial, even to us youngsters.
But at least in hindsight these mailings made sense. Get ’em while they’re young, or at least while they still think they’re young. I remember our first issue of AARP Magazine had baby boomer icon Alfred E. Neuman on the cover. (Any youngster who wants to know who he is, Google him.) Our generation had finally joined the gerontocracy.
But now my wife and I have turned sixty. She is looking into applying for Social Security in a couple of months. What marketing director not short of a pink slip thought that we were candidates for the baby network? Wouldn’t we have made far better targets when we were in our thirties? Perhaps our paperwork got lost for three decades, and upon discovery it was decided better late than never. But what a waste of printing and postage costs in a tight economy. Granted, many parents with young children and young couples of childbearing age have moved into our neighborhood in recent years, so Babies, Incorporated may have plotted a comprehensive swoop down and canvas of the whole community, bound to snag enough comers to justify the costs and effort. Perhaps a rich benefactor so believes in the importance of his baby journal to the newest citizens of the world that he has shouted, “Costs be damned! The future of mankind depends on the entire human race having this shoved through their door!” Or more depressing considering our age, perhaps they think my wife and I are already grandparents. No one is prouder of baby and wants to show them off more than Grandma and Grandad.
It’s enough to make me cry “goo goo” and join the rebirthing movement. Come to think of it, my wife and I talk baby talk to our cat. Perhaps I’m getting in touch with my inner baby.aging gracefully, junk mail, marketing