Value Added, Then Subtracted

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I’m Cory Laslocky. You’ve probably seen me in “Tall, Pale & Flabby” magazine. I live alone. I own two cats. Occasionally, I like to listen to the Pet Shop Boys. I wash my hair with Pantene with pro vitamin E. Just thought I’d tell you…Christmas is only six months away.

I hate buying things. I hate it.

Who am I kidding? I love it.

Everyday, around the world, over one billion Coca-Cola products are consumed. A billion a day. That’s one in six people living on the planet. I once thought that the meaning of life was to make the lives of those around you better. Apparently, I was misinformed. Consumption is the meaning of life. Consume, consume, consume. This is how we’ve come to judge ourselves as people. This is how we take stock in our own personal inventory.

I am a good person because:

* I bought a $56,000 Cadillac SUV, which gets four feet to the tank, so that I can handle the rugged terrain of Jersey Turnpike, Exit 4 in style.

* I bought 18 pairs of Gap khakis in Tan, Olive, Sunrise and Cranberry. I wear them when I talk to other men about my lawn. Somewhere, children are dying of AIDS. Somewhere else, people are hunted down in the street because of their religion. And each day, the planet dies a little more. But my lawn is green, damn it. And you can have my mulch when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.

* I bought a subscription to the Olsen Twins magazine (Mary-Kate and Ashley) because years from now when they’re all coked up and strung out of Zoloft, doing double-penetration, girl-on-girl flicks, I can look back on a time when they were just young, sweet, innocent commodities.

* I bought crack-cocaine because for life’s aches and pains there’s no better non-prescription pain reliever (available in ghettos everywhere and Target).

* I bought tampons. From the commercials, it seems like it’s so much fun to have your period. “Weee, look at me. I’m hemorrhaging and climbing a mountain.” Or “My pads got wings. I can fly. I can fly.” Somewhere in the bowels of Playtex’s corporate headquarters, a person is using the precious hours of their life (hours that could be spent with their kids, a favorite aunt, or painting sea shells for the blind), hours you never get back so that “at the end of the day,” the Playtex “brand” of sanitary napkins is better “positioned.”

* I bought $56 sterling-silver measuring cups off my cousin’s wedding registry from Williams Sonoma or The Pottery Barn or maybe Restoration Hardware because I’m white and that’s what white people do.

* I even bought my friend’s kid a Baby Van Gogh Color Go-Round from Playskool for his first birthday, even though I could have easily given the kid a stick and he would have never known the difference.

* I bought a delicious, home-cooked meal from a family fun restaurant where washboards, yield signs and wooden airplane propellers hang on the wall. Wow, did an airplane crash here years ago? It’s like eating dinner in somebody’s attic. “I’ll have the chicken fingers and cricket bat in the corner. What do you mean it’s not for sale? Let me see your manager, Brad.” But Brad rolls with the punches. Brad’s a waiter emeritus. In his years at TGI McApplebyChillisBennigans, he’s seen it all (too much if you ask Brad). He’s got a belly-full of killing or mozzarella sticks. He thought he’d be waiting tables just until he finished college, but then he woke up one day, 37 years old, wearing a red & white striped shirt with a button that says “Mean People Suck.”

And right next to TGIMcApplebyChillisBennigans is the Macy’s Furniture Outlet Gallery, which is just two miles down the road from the Macy’s at the mall. I’d like to be a fly on the wall at that meeting when that was decided.

High Powered Executive #1: Hey, Phil!

Equally High-Powered Executive #2 (but with a different skill set): Hey, Bill!

Exec. #1: How’s the golf, Phil?

Exec. #2: Great, Bill. Shot an 82. How’s your boy?

Exec. #1: Great, Phil. Just turned 4 or 19. Not really sure.

Exec. #2: What’s your idea, Bill?

Exec. #1: Well, Phil, let’s cut down some trees and displace some wildlife so we can open up a furniture outlet gallery right down the street from our other store.

Exec. #2: Great, Bill. Now we’ve got a place to put all the slop that nobody buys along with those scary bitches in cosmetics. Just one thing, though.

Exec. #1: What’s that, Phil?

Exec. #2: Well, Bill, we’re still gonna sell wooden apples and matching end tables?

Exec. #1: You betcha, Phil. That’s what impresses people.

More importantly, that’s what makes people feel whole.

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