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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Oh-So-Special Delivery

My wife and I have recently hit a new social low. Or high, depending on how you think of it.

But probably low. Very, very probably low.

A couple of weeks ago, we discovered a website — one with some company or other behind it, presumably — that ships dog food. We have a dog, and she eats food — so we need dog food. But we’ve never bought it online.

In the past, when the mutt’s run out of kibble, we’ve schlepped out to some pet store like a couple of schnooks to buy it. It takes time, it takes energy, it (often) involves wearing pants, and — worst of all — it involves talking to people. That’s the worst.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like people. I do.

(Especially you, because you’re reading this. Have I told you how good that shirt looks on you?

Oh, it does. It totally brings out whatever the hell color your eyes are, probably. Totally probably.)

“If I can procure supplies by tapping buttons on a website and have some magical FedEx fairy drop a giant box of Horse Lips and Hoof Chews at my front door while I’m out, then I’m all for it.”

The thing is this — I don’t especially enjoy buying things from people. Or selling things, for that matter. That particular social interaction — “Oh, how much is it?“, “Cash or credit?“, “Would you like a bag?“, “Sir, please put your pants back on” — is pretty much old hat by now. It’s routine and predictable and BOOOO-ring.

I figure if I have to deal with people — and as an only child, trust me, I’ve asked myself many, many times whether it’s absolutely necessary — then I’d like those interactions to be at least potentially interesting. Spontaneous. Edifying.

And there’s nothing effing “edifying” in counting out change for a forty-pound bag of Cow Snouts ‘n’ Bits, so the dog can float ungodly air biscuits in the bedroom after chowing it down. That exchange gets me nowhere, gets the guy behind the counter nowhere, and it gets the dog’s ass somewhere, but not at all where I want it to be.

The point is, it’s pointless. If I can procure supplies by tapping buttons on a website and have some magical FedEx fairy drop a giant box of Horse Lips and Hoof Chews at my front door while I’m out, then I’m all for it. That frees up a few minutes for something more interesting, hopefully.

(Or half an hour of trying to come up with a phrase like “Horse Lips and Hoof Chews”. Because that’s what my life is really all about. Squandering hard-earned time on my own terms, dammit.

And it’s still better than standing in line for Purina Granulated Goat Balls, or whatever they put in that foul-smelling chow. I stand by that philosophy.)

Now, me, I’ve been selectively asocial for years. I was the one pushing way back to use Peapod, the local service that delivers groceries from the grocery store to us. My wife balked at the couple-of-bucks delivery fee. I told her I’d give her twenty dollars myself for every time I don’t have to chat with a cashier about the weather every time she needs a price check on a bunch of frigging bananas.

I lost that battle — for a while. But as time has passed, she’s caught up slightly in the “jaded” department. And now we’re both happy when we find another way to buy things hassle-free.

(Including Peapod. That first delivery was nothing short of magical. Like a second honeymoon — only without the hot tub, and with higher-fiber cereal.)

Now we buy everything we possibly can from faceless impersonal websites. Groceries from “the ‘Pod”. Pizzas and wontons from Foodler. Her music comes from iTunes; my blue jeans come from Amazon. And now we get our Alpo on the internet, too.

But that’s not all!

The missus did a little more digging on their website, and found that apparently you can also order drugstore supplies from these people. Minus the actual drugs from drugstores, apparently — but still! Now we’re getting deliveries of deodorant and paper towels and moist doggie-doo-drowning towelettes. All with the click of a mouse. And no awkward chit-chat or fumbling for an extra nickel, so the change will come out to an even dollar, because that’s obviously so furiously important that it’s worth an extra three minutes of eye-stabbing banter and pocket-lint-digging to achieve.

In fact, we’re getting tantalizingly close to non-shopping Nirvana.

(Well, I am, anyway. So long as there are shoes on the planet, somewhere, my wife will ferret them out, try a few thousand pairs on to compare, and then pay to bring some home. It apparently doesn’t trigger the same aversion in her that buying dog biscuits and multivitamins and whole-grain mustard do.

Which is a shame. I guess we all have our strappy slingback stiletto crosses to bear.)

But now I’m wondering. Is it really possible that I could buy everything I need, without more than a “thanks, pal” to a delivery guy? Could I become, effectively, the most up-to-the-minute-stocked wallflower hermit the world has ever known? Are people doing this already? AM I BEHIND THE ASOCIAL TIMES?!

Maybe I am. And I’d really like to find out.

Of course, that would probably involve actually talking to someone about it. And if they didn’t have something interesting to say, then it’d just be another wasted interaction. Time I could’ve spent ordering bacon-flavored Snausages and having a party pack of those Doritos-flavored tacos delivered to my doorstep.

Nah. It’s not worth the risk. I’ll keep paying for my lunch like a schnook, and the occasional pack of gum, and whatever’s cold on draft.

But someday — someday — I’ll have it all delivered to me, with no fuss or muss or jibberjabber. And best of all? Pants-optional. That’s the way buying things ought to be.

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