Attention All Catalog Shoppers

Back in my early days of suburbia, I received one or two catalogs in the mail, and that was about it. However, catalogs, I soon learned, are like rabbits, and tend to multiply if left unattended. At first I looked forward to the occasional Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma catalogs. Not that I was buying, because we were young and house poor. But like a man with a girly magazine, I liked to look at the pictures and dream about what I didn’t have at home.

Soon enough, though, more catalogs started pouring in. Initially it was just home décor-themed catalogs, which made sense since I had a home. But then I started getting catalogs for obscure things I had absolutely no possible interest in, such as hunting gear, Amish clothing, and pet diapers for elderly, incontinent dogs. Somehow I had gotten on the mailing list for everything from surgical scrubs to Harley Davidson clothes, which would be great if I was a doctor who rode a cool hog, rather than a stay-at-home mom who drives a lame-o SUV.

Sure the catalogs were pretty, and colorful, and inviting, and made me almost want to call right in and order a plain and simple Amish lady’s bonnet. But the catalogs had started crowding out my regular mail, and soon reached such a volume that the mailman simply left them stacked next to the post. I was afraid the neighbors were going to think I had some kind of catalog addiction, do an intervention, and enroll me in a mail-order 12-step program. The day I received a catalog for the Avocado of the Month Club, I decided the time had come to cut off the catalogs, cold turkey. I had no choice. I don’t even really like guacamole.

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Now, I knew I got a lot of catalogs, but since they never came all at once, I really had no idea how many there were. For a month I collected all my catalogs and piled them up in a heap in my kitchen. By the time I reached 50, I figured I could either wallpaper my family room with them or take some action.

Getting catalogs, it seemed, was easy. Stopping getting catalogs... not so much. From my monster pile o’ catalogs, I went through each one and wrote down their mailing address. Then I typed a lovely, gracious, cease-and-desist-or-I-will-sue-you-and-the-Amish-buggy-you-rode-in-on letter. I printed out fifty copies, cut out my mailing label on each catalog, stuck it to the letter, and then mailed them all out.

Warily, I watched the mail get delivered each day. As the mailman staggered under the weight of my catalogs, I began to wonder if my letters had ended up in some catalog slush pile. I thought it pretty ironic that in trying to end the junk mail, I may have ended up becoming junk mail, myself.

Then, slowly but surely, I noticed a definite decrease in the number of catalogs I was receiving. Day-by-day the pile got smaller and smaller, until one afternoon, I opened up the mailbox and found only bills. Smiling with smug satisfaction, I went in the house and logged onto my email. I had 30 incoming messages.

They were all online catalogs.

For more Lost in Suburbia, follow Tracy on Facebook at or on Twitter @TracyBeckerman.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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