Excess

(I sent out an incomplete version of this post this morning. Oops! If you received it, you may have wondered what follows “A 40”. Read on.)

I’m sitting in the living room of my B&B in Toronto, staring at the cover of a local magazine. There sits a gigantic hamburger in high definition, piled with two patties, two onion rings, bacon, carmelized onions, lettuce, tomato and cheese … cheese … cheese. The burger looks to be four inches in diameter and six inches high.

My knee jerk response is lust, but then I settle down. My eyes narrow and desire fades to revulsion. How would you get such a thing in your mouth? Do we really need five vivid flavours competing for space in our consciousness? Well … no.

I wonder what other examples of animal magnetism I’ll find in these pages:

1. A 40-storey condo tower will be prime real estate – at Bloor and Yonge. If you have a few million dollars lying around, you’ll be able to call “a shimmering sculpture of light and gold” home.

2. How about a fitness experience? If you join this club, you’ll feel “a great energy and flow to the space”, not to mention the change room and “its accoutrements: the towels, the shower products, the padlock-less lockers, the vanity, and even that earthy rug/mat”. Perhaps especially the vanity.

3. “I splurged on a $350 sweater for my boyfriend [Aimé Leon Dore microfleece]. We’re both obsessed with this designer.”

4. A weeklong event to “bring the city’s celebrated bars, bartenders, brands and cocktail lovers together. Come for the amazing parties and bar crawls, the one-of-a-kind seminars and tastings, and even a boozy film screening or two.”

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with any of this. If you have the money it’s one choice you can make. But subtle messages shine through:

Bigger is better
Look at me
Happiness is an outside job

I don’t think so

Daypacks

I’ve owned a small backpack for 20 years or so.  It’s been my faithful companion … in the Rockies, on the beach in Cuba, and in the gym.  If an inanimate object can be a friend, this is it.  But my maroon and grey Bruce attachment is showing its age.  The rubberized coating on the neck of the bag is pulling away in big messy globs.  Plus one of my beloved liquid black pens gave up the ghost a few months ago, spilling ink over big parts of the exterior.

I decided today to replace my pack with something bright and new, and give the old one to Goodwill.  It’s not like I’m recycling a person, of course.  I would never do that.  This is an object, and I’m willing to let it go, with sadness.  So many adventures we’ve shared.

So off I went a couple of hours ago to Mountain Equipment Co-0p to see what 20 years has wrought in the world of daypacks.  Turning down an aisle, I was welcomed by countless packs of every size, hanging proudly on their hooks.  My eyes fell on a bright red jobbie – my favourite colour.  The salesman owned this exact model and waxed poetic about its virtues.  On MEC’s website, here’s what I encountered:

What sets this full-sized daypack apart from the rest is the unique Aircomfort suspension system.  A powder-coated steel frame tensions a mesh back panel between the pack’s body and your back.  The result is a narrow air space that allows continuous ventilation and airflow, which leads to greater comfort for the wearer.  The pack also features two sets of zippers and an internal bag divider that can be quickly removed.  This means that you can access the bag from the top or bottom and retrieve items without unpacking the entire bag.  It’s a great size for long day-hikes.

Who am I to argue with such praise?  Maybe with the price, though – $160.00.  Ah, what the heck?  It’s an investment.  I grabbed my red treasure and headed to the till.  When what to my wondering ears should appear, but a totally unexpected dollar figure – $49.00.  The supervisor told me that my choice was “on clearance” because of the colour.  People didn’t want a red pack.  They were all for Granite/Black and Forest/Emerald though.  How strange, I thought.  Red is so passionate.  Granite/Black is so trendy.  I’ll take passionate any day.

The salesman told me that there was one more of these red packs in the store.  Another $49.00 and it would be mine.  First I said no.  “Let someone else buy it.”  Even if I intended the second one to be a gift, the double purchase seemed excessive, another example of knee jerk consumerism.  Planning out my future.  Making sure I have enough.  But that’s wrong.  The second one’s not for me.  It’s a gift for a special someone in my future.

So I paid the guy $98.00 plus tax.

I now own three daypacks.  One will always be in my heart.  One will be on my back tomorrow and will gradually work its way into my heart.  And one will help someone else move through the world.