I recently received an email message from a fitness website I’d shared my address with on a slow day in 2004. I still haven’t mustered the energy to unsubscribe, so for the past decade, I’ve just deleted the messages and moved on.
The email I got today, though, could not be ignored.
“SUBJECT: The Top Ten Secrets for Improving Your Body In Every Way You’ve Ever Dreamed Of, All Without Moving Or, Even, Actually Being Awake.”
Those were 10 secrets I needed in on. It was also technology I felt compelled to explore. How did the computer know all the ways I wanted to improve my body, much less know how to achieve them, much less know how to take action without requiring any action whatsoever?
The Internet is a special place.
Tradition has it that 10-year anniversaries are to be commemorated with a gift of tin or aluminum. I celebrated the marker with this fitness website by accepting the wisdom it had to offer for the first time.
Upon clicking the link, I was directed to a commercial for over-the-counter allergy medicine, which was odd because I’m fine with my sneeze threshold, and when my eyes look red and watery, I frankly think I look cooler. Anyway, I politely sat through the commercial, which fed me to a slide show featuring pictures from the Kimye wedding.
Finally, I landed on the page that seemed associated with the “Ten Secrets” list I’d been born to read. The numbers one through 10 were arranged in numerical order, from the top of the page to the bottom. Next to every number was a sentence that ended with an exclamation point, because these sentences were excited.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm did not reach exclamatory levels.
I read things like “giving up now means you can give up forever!” and “what God denies, plastic surgery provides!,” and “life is like a box of chocolates – you should be eating more fiber!” These were all things I already knew, as evidenced by the bumper stickers on my minivan.
Either these secrets were complete losers, or they were so secretive that they were delivered in code.
As a consolation prize, the bottom of the page included suggestions for other articles readers like me have also enjoyed. Apparently, people who want a complete make-over without lifting a finger are also curious about the seven quickest ways to boil water, the 12 best cities for raising unruly children, and 23 ways to sneak your cat into your workplace.
Feeling misunderstood and empty, I jumped over to Facebook. In the reassuring comfort of friends I avoid in person, I took a half-dozen Buzzfeed quizzes. After confirming that the TV mom I most resemble is Clair Huxtable and that, were I an after-dinner drink, I’d be a cup of weak tea, I felt strong enough to head to the grocery store.
Because I’m a planner, I had used the notes application on my smartphone to keep a tally of the items missing from my kitchen. By the time I arrived at Shaw’s, that list included ketchup, paper towels, and ketchup. Out of an abundance of caution, I also bought chocolate chip cookies.
As I waited for a bored teenager to help me figure out how I’d broken the self-checkout machine, I had time to read some magazine covers. I soon realized that there were 17 staples I’d failed to purchase for my summer wardrobe, three ways I could improve our kitty-litter box, and no less than 524 events I should be incorporating into my children’s bedtime routine.
Needless to say, when I arrived home and learned that we also needed milk, food for actual meals, and more ketchup, I began to feel a little weak in the knees.
After I don’t know how long, I found myself lying face up on the kitchen floor. I’d pulled a muscle in my knee and couldn’t move. Also, I didn’t really want to move.
My son tottered over and asked me what was wrong.
I told him to grab some paper and a pen, and dictated The Top 15 Ways Mom Is Dropping The Ball.