Before I get into the topic of this week’s blog, I first wanted to note that I have been writing my column, “Sally’s World,” in the Senior Beacon newspaper (based in Milford, NH) for four years this month, and have loved every minute of it. So this weekend I was saddened to be informed that after 36 years of publication, the next issue of the Beacon (October) will be the last.
Bill and Vivian Balam, the owners, have decided to retire and begin a new chapter in their life together. Their paper always was filled with helpful info and interesting articles written especially for readers age 50 and older, and I’m sure it will be greatly missed. I want to wish Bill and Vivian much love, health and happiness in the years to come, and to thank them for all of the support and encouragement they have given me during the past four years.
SOMETIMES "FREE GIFTS" CAN BE A REAL HEADACHE
I’ve noticed lately that quite a few businesses have been trying to entice customers by offering free gifts.
For example, last week Shaw’s offered to give me a free bag of organic croutons if I shopped there.
And if I bought $10 worth of hand sanitizer at Ocean State Job Lot, I’d get a $10 gift card. Actually, I couldn’t resist that deal, so I stocked up. I’ve learned from experience that you never can have too much hand sanitizer nowadays.
But sometimes a free gift actually can be more trouble than it’s worth. I still can recall back a few years ago when an electronics store was offering a free DVD movie with each tax-preparation program you purchased.
When I saw the advertisement, I rushed right over to the store and selected my favorite tax program, which cost around $50, then I asked one of the clerks what free DVD came with it. I figured it would be something pretty obscure, like “1001 Elvis Impersonators Unleashed,” but to my surprise, the clerk said, “Pick out any DVD we have in stock…as long as it’s under $20.”
Well, the store must have had 10,000 DVDs. I immediately felt panicky. How on earth, I wondered, was I going to pick just one?
I searched through acres of Mel Gibson movies, Tom Cruise movies, Sylvester Stallone movies and John Travolta movies. I studied the covers of concert movies of every band from Abba to Frank Zappa. An hour passed, and still I hadn’t selected a free DVD. It was sheer torture.
That’s when I recalled my husband mentioning some new movie starring Angelina Jolie he really wanted to see. I couldn’t remember the exact title of the film, only that it had something to do with cooking. I managed to track down another clerk.
“Do you have that new Angelina Jolie movie?” I asked him. “The title has something to do with cooking, I think.”
He gave me a blank stare.
Then I remembered something else my husband had mentioned about it. “I think she plays a spy in it.”
A look of realization suddenly crossed his face. “Oh, you must mean Salt,” he said, smiling. “It’s right over there on the end cap.”
As I headed toward the rack, the clerk called out to me, “By the way, Salt is her name in the movie, not a condiment!”
As it turned out, the movie was $19.99, so Angelina fell within the “free DVD” range by the skin of her pearly-white teeth. I breathed a sigh of relief.
When I brought Salt home and handed it to my husband, he was thrilled…perhaps a little too much so. That’s when I started thinking that maybe I should have selected something like a “Shrek” movie instead. I mean, I’d rather have had my husband staring at a giant green ogre for two hours than a sexy, shapely, pouty-lipped vixen who probably would be wearing very little and doing a lot of running, jumping and bouncing in the movie.
Salt turned out to be everything my husband had hoped it would be and more…endless scenes of Angelina sprinting, leaping, climbing, karate chopping, dangling by her heels and blowing up things. She even jumped out of a helicopter and into a river below. His eyeballs practically bulged out of their sockets as he stared, seemingly hypnotized, at the screen.
I thought I heard one of the dogs panting while we were watching the movie, but now that I think about it, I’m not certain if it was the dog or my husband. Had he agreed to wear the heart monitor his doctor had tried to talk him into wearing just a few days before, no doubt the paramedics would have grabbed a defibrillator and been breaking down our door.
Immediately after we finished watching the DVD, I sold it on eBay for a high bid of $7.25. Not too shabby for a freebie, especially since I was eager to get rid of it before my husband decided to watch it again.
So I guess free gifts can be a good thing sometimes – even though my dad always preached to me that nothing in life actually is free.
And speaking of free, why is the word “free” always used when describing a gift from a business? Isn’t it an established fact that the word “gift” means it’s something that’s given to you free of charge? So the word “free” in front of it is just redundant, isn’t it?
I think I’m getting carried away here, so I’d better sign off…and maybe go pick up my free organic croutons at Shaw’s.But they're not fooling me. I know exactly what's going on in their clever little minds. They're hoping I'll have to buy lots of expensive ingredients to make the salad that will go underneath all of those free croutons.
Maybe my dad was right after all.
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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: email@example.com