Friday, January 16, 2009

Material lust

A few years back, I started using Publishers Clearinghouse Search & Win as my home page. It uses Google and a bunch of other search engines and if I'm not searching for anything obscure, it does a fairly good job. But I figured it was a scam, for I'd used it for almost a year, and every day I'd see the names of those who'd won prize after prize, and it seemed, with all the searches I'd done, at least I'd have won something, a 5 dollar Amazon gift certificate at least, within a full year. In my memory, it was the exact day I was going to quit using it, for the search engine isn't all that hot, when I won two hundred dollars.

I still thought it was a scam when the screen came up that announced I was a winner. I filled out a form and figured I'd never see my prize money. The next morning, I told Dick I'd won two hundred dollars and he said, "I'll believe it when I see the check." Well, I got the check. Within the next few weeks, I won fifty dollars in Amazon gift certificates.

Google opted out and the search engine became fairly useless. So, that was the end of that and the small daily rush I'd get thinking I might win another prize. So, I started spending ten minutes a day entering the Better Homes and Garden instant win game. I've never won a thing playing this game, and I'd say it hasn't made much of a dent on my consciousness, because I can't even think of the name of it.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a search for sweepstakes on Google. I had no idea how huge a "hobby" entering sweepstakes are. There are hundreds of sweepstakes websites, with pages and pages of lists. There are special sweepstakes toolbars you can download so one can enter sweepstakes faster. I've installed one.

My favorites button has become heavy with links. I've bookmarked "pay down your mortgage" sweepstakes, beauty product giveaways, product essay contests. . .

I've entered to win five foot wide plasma television sets and a thin gold bangle bracelet worth five thousand dollars. In the real world, I have no need or desire for either of these things. But if I won either of them, I'd take them, thank you very much.

I feel as if I'm admitting to a deep dark secret. It is neither deep or dark, but there's something nefarious about it, for it has opened up a yearning in me for material goods. The $250,000 shopping spree sweepstakes on Cosmopolitan magazine's website was looking better and better to me each day.

This afternoon I wrote an essay about why I'd like to win a trip to Paris. Of course, I mentioned that I'd like to visit perfume shops. But no, I wouldn't just like to visit. I'd like to buy, buy and buy some more. I want every Serge Lutens non-export scent I can get my greedy little hands on, and I want them in bell jars, not the ordinary rectangular spray bottles.

I find it interesting that in the midst of the worst economic crisis in my lifetime, both for the entire country and in my personal life, I'm thinking about winning overpriced luxury goods that I've never wanted before. I surely don't want or need a silk pillow with a baroque design on the front. It's baby blue and doesn't match anything in my home. But, I filled in the form to win that pillow, not once, but twice.

There are things I need, practical things, that are expensive. I need a new pair of glasses, for instance. I've looked at hundreds of contests in the last few days and not one of them offers a chance to win a pair of prescription glasses. One can win a consultation with a psychic or plastic surgeon, but nowhere did I see an offer to see a good primary care doctor.

Of course, contests are fantasies. Winning the things of ordinary life would take some of the fun out it, but the truth is, for me, and I suspect for a good many people who enter contests, that I could use many everyday things.

So far, this week, I've won one music download and fifteen dollars worth of Kraft products (which I suspect are all going to be junk food).

I did enter one contest today that had a fairly practical prize: glue. I'm not kidding. It was on a scrapbooking site. The winner of this contest wins $265 in various types of glue products for scrapbooking. I didn't look at the details of this contest, but just how much glue is that? It must be enough for life, unless some of it is made of gold. For all I know, some of it might be.

I wonder how long this weird little obsession of mine is going to last. I don't know what to make of it. And I suspect I'm going to win that glue. It'll serve me right.

Painting note: Elizabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun "Queen Marie Antoinette of France" 1778
I'm imagining myself in that outfit,saying, "Let them eat Kraft macaroni and cheese."

Off with my head!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fyi -- google is back in at publishers clearing house search and win (, and they also have a toolbar.