Monday, September 13, 2004


Or, what was the world like before brand-names & blah-blah-blah?

Inundated with more than 10,000 messages a day, it’s not surprising that many folks prefer to go “bonkers” than see another blessed advertisement for things guaranteed to cure all manner of ills and bring us joy life ever after.

You know the ones I mean ...restore your venal vigor in just one hour (for just $49.95 plus tax), ...renovate your tinkle pantry in 7 days (based on an easy, affordable, installment payment plan), ... make you rich in less than 21 days (all credit cards accepted for this "best-selling" tips book), ...or enhance your private parts for life (using a miracle formula available at a 50% discount, if purchased within the next five minutes on the Shopping Channel).

It would be nice to think that we’re okay just the way we are. The truth is that the world goes better when we buy stuff, and I mean oodles of it, even if we don’t really need it.

With so many “brand-name” and “brand-less” products competing for shelf space and “mind share” -- it’s no wonder we’re pooped and need the occasional pick-me-up or put-me-to-sleep pill! After all, being bombarded by those ‘buy now…before it’s too late’ ads, text messages, and infomercials on TV, radio, cell phones, magazines and now embedded in emails isn't much fun. The astonishing thing is how people cope with this dilemma by calling on some familiar escape goats such as daydreaming, dawdling or simply dumping on others.

As little as a century or two ago, no one obsessed about buying “brand-name” products "to impress a boss", "bewitch a suitor" or "to keep up with the wretched Jones's".

For those who didn't like being told what to do, there were plenty of things to engage their talents besides wading through the holy scriptures, the sports page, or sharing the latest interactive electronic exploits of "Dick and Jane or Puff and Spot in the Dungeon" with friends.

In fact, far from having their head in the clouds, folks spent a good deal of time with their feet firmly planted on the ground. For example, home gardens were practical if not pretty places designed to provide nourishment for families while medicine chests were filled with home-remedies although perhaps a tad bare by today’s standards.

And if the “humors” got you down, there were always a few tried-and-true remedies you could count on to get you back on your feet (besides bleeding or purging).

  • Cayenne pepper sprinkled on one’s socks could cure “cold feet”.
  • Thorough-wort, red raspberries and sage were said to do wonders to relieve the symptoms of flu or a cold.
  • Caraway and fennel seeds in food were used to cure a bilious body of “windy colic”.
  • Pillows stuffed with hop seeds provided an alternative to counting sheep and, more often than not, afforded owners the gift of pleasant dreams.
  • Catnip apparently kept the wee ones calm and quiet if not the cats as well; (and in my day, kids and cats were to be seen and definitely not heard).

Instead of looking to “Father Knows Best”, the “Wizard of Oz” or “Superman” to save the day, those who came before us lived simpler lives and no doubt understood the notion that perhaps “nature knows best”.

So, when your world starts to look like a hodgepodge, and you can’t find the silver lining behind your cloud…why not take a break from the 500-channel universe and the chatterbox of life. Count to ten, take a deep breath...and enjoy a walk in nature – it’s the one thing in life that isn’t created by spin doctors, has no brand-name, and doesn’t go blah, blah blah!


For more information about the world before brand-names and blah, blah, blah…as well as some handy home-remedies, check out "Good For What Ails You" at


At 5:42 AM, Blogger M. D. Benoit said...

You said it, sister. We got so sick of mindless drivel on TV that I cancelled our cable, and decided not to buy the antenna we needed to watch the two channels we'd catch with it.

Now in the evening, we sit down in our favorite chairs, listen to music (the cat loves classical), and read. Cross-stitch. Plan our next trip.

If we want to learn what's going on in the world, we listen to CBC Radio (no ads), read the news on the Internet.

And, on Sundays, we have a techno-free day. No computer, email, cell phone. We let the answering machine pick up. It's amazing the things you manage to do when you're not plugged in; like talk, walk, and listen to the birds. Look around you. There's a world out there.

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