Did you miss Cyber Monday? It's the only thing anyone calls "Cyber" anymore. In the '90s, they slapped "cyber" on anything to give it a high-tech sparkle. "Your dog will love this new CyberCollar. The name tag is made from 100% recycled AOL membership CDs!"
It was the same in the 1920s, when the word "Radio" was applied to indicate modern marvels. Hence the "Radio Flyer" wagon, which neither flew nor tuned in broadcasts of "Your Hit Parade." On the site of the Rand Tower downtown, there was a "Radio Cleaners," as if they'd invented a process in which clothes were draped over a speaker and someone in a studio with a microphone yelled the dirt away.
But no one had Radio Monday sales in 1940, because the term was dead. Nevertheless, we still have Cyber Monday, so I dutifully hit Amazon to look at the wondrous items for sale. I thought:
Everything here will make my life better!
Or, nothing here will make my life better.
Every year you're offered the Latest Kitchen Thing. This year it's the AirPot Instant Pressure Fry-Cro-Wave. "It uses a revolutionary new technique called 'Bolshevism' to sweep away the old ways of cooking. Read our five-star reviews."
Leon T ***** "I had heard a lot about the AirPot from friends who said it changed their life. One of them said they were skeptical of the revolutionary 'Bolshevik' process because any sort of utopian egalitarianism inevitably submits to human nature and degrades into a hierarchical system of oppression masquerading as social equality. But then she tried out the 'bacon' setting, and it made perfect bacon in under seven minutes! So I bought one, and now we have bacon all the time! I think it really shows what socialistic collectivism can accomplish when the efforts to build a new society are not contorted by exterior revanchist elements."
Emma G ***** "I was looking for a new way of cooking beets, and this has a beets setting, so yeah."
Alex S * "I would give this zero stars if I could. Machine would not cook anything. Waste of money." (UPDATE) "After many e-mails to the company, I discovered that the unit needs electricity and must be plugged in to work. Fair enough, but this is not in the manual. Still one star for poor documentation."
And so on. At this point I'm on the fence. I recall buying a newfangled pressure-cooker thing three years ago. It came with an app you could connect with your phone. I spent an hour trying to get the phone to recognize the pot, which sounds like an admission of madness: Imagine a man holding a rotary phone up to a pot, and shouting, "Why can't you see the pot? It's right there." They'd take you away for observation. "He's not a danger to himself, but he keeps insisting that phones can communicate with cookware. Harmless, perhaps, but keep a close eye on him and call us again if he gets into a rage because the telephone can't talk to the bathtub."
OK, well, let's see what else can make my life better. Ah, it's another Amazon Alexa product. What do they have for Cyber Monday? The Echo Nano. The smallest Echo yet! Only three microns across, but surprisingly powerful.
You think: "Great, I'm tired of big, clunky Echo units that take up 2 cubic inches. What do the reviews say?"
Winston S ***** "I had the Nano injected directly into my bloodstream so I could access Alexa everywhere. Little did I know that an undetected heart valve problem would cause a sudden myocardial infarction, but I was able to say 'Alexa, call 911' and receive a detailed recitation from Wikipedia of the history of emergency services."
Brian O ***** "I bought a six-pack and glued them to the backs of cockroaches, and now I can be anywhere in the house and receive instant updates about the status of things I have ordered from Amazon."
Julia * "Works well but arrived in a box 2 feet by 3 feet; had to use an electron microscope to find it."
No, I don't need that. Well, there are health and beauty recommendations ... except "perfume gift set with bubble bath" will always scream "desperate husband who hit the department store at 4 p.m. Dec. 24," no matter when you bought it. And there were toy recommendations, because I bought toys for Daughter 14 years ago, and Amazon apparently believes I sprayed her with some growth-retardant fluid that froze her in time.
Say, there's an idea ... no, they're out of it. "Growth-retardant fluid may be available from these sellers," but there's no Prime free shipping.
So I missed all the great deals and fantastic bargains on stuff I absolutely do not need. Drat the luck. Guess I'll just have to shop at neighborhood stores and find something unique and special.
In case the family is reading this — hey, you never know — I don't consider the gas station a "neighborhood store." I mean, it is, but you don't put Slim Jims and lottery tickets under the tree.
You save those for the stockings.