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.

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