Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lifetime Membership

Things have been going nuts. Job layoffs, bankruptcies, financial collapse of historic institutions, the housing market, corporate/government fraud, media bias, conflict of interest, social upheaval and unrest, spiritual schizophrenia, idolatry and greed. Sounds like daytime TV. And in the midst of it all Costco sends out another application for the continuation of our membership. It’s not quite like being assigned a social-security number, and being expected to embrace a lifetime membership in the illusion of democracy, but it does hold the expectation of becoming our only consumer connection. I can foresee renewing the Costco connection, it’s that other membership I feel compelled to re-consider. If ever there were a time to think about discontinuing use of our once-valued Lifetime Membership cards, it’s now. If ever there were a reason, it’s pretty damned apparent. But hey, lifetime is a lifetime. That’s the bitch. I don’t know who gave us the stupid cards to begin with anyway, or what they’re actually for. They can’t get us into the places we want to go. We don’t need a damn card to get into the bathroom at the Laundromat, just a couple of quarters and a phony name on the guest list will get us ten minutes of privacy and all the paper towels we can pull. And some of us pull a lot of paper towels. Who ever thought up the idea of Lifetime Membership anyway, to anything? And if they’re going to have these memberships, why don’t they just tattoo the numbers on our face or something? Who’s na├»ve enough to think they’re going to get through life without losing the damn card at least a couple of times? Hell, I’ve lost that many tickets to paradise.

We can’t really decline membership in the club, or even postpone it because Lifetime implies that we were members even before they gave us the social security numbers, we just didn’t get the registration packets in the mail until they found us. We didn’t get the benefits until we acquiesced on the proverbial dotted line. The requirements haunt us now like some rampaging wave chasing down the only boats left afloat, lost and confused, bobbing on an endless ocean. We’re subtly, but suddenly, overwhelmed by a vast array of bad choices. Should we stay with the boat and ride the wave to shore like some romantic surfer hoping to get his picture in the morning paper, or like an insane pirate crouching on the bow with a bottle of rum for courage, and shit for brains? Or should we wave a rusty sword at the hand we’ve just been dealt while that foul mouthed parrot with the death grip shreds the delicate flesh on our one remaining sunburned shoulder? Should we abandon ship and take our chances in the water? It occurs to me that if the wave doesn’t get us the sharks most surely will. Or should we just kill ourselves quickly, making everything disappear, making certain that we’re good and gone before the wave arrives, or the sharks, or the grandiose illusions that seek to subvert our better judgment? If I were to ask you (which I probably will) you’d most likely have to say ‘stick with the goddamned boat’, like we really have some other choice in the matter? But at least then we could have a good brandy and a sandwich on the way down. Lifetime Membership means just that. We’ve got to stick with the ship for life. And we don’t get to decide the size of the wave. That’s for the guys with the wave-makers who hand out the membership cards.