Listen, I’m all for capitalism. But these car commercials at Christmas – what is up with that? Who is watching this commercial and deciding that is what you’re getting your spouse? Are they sitting on a couch made out of diamonds? Don’t they find that uncomfortable, a diamond couch?
Worse, these car commercials make it look like the spouse is, like, totally psyched to get a new car. Yeah. No kidding. A December to Remember, they call it. You know what Liz would Remember about December if she woke up to a brand new $60,000 Lexus in the driveway with a bow on it? She would remember how her husband had hollowed out the kids’ college fund for a car that she didn’t need.
Commercials tell us that we deserve the best and that we can have it. And they are frighteningly persuasive.
When Finn was five, he was watching some show on TV. Now, our kids almost never see network TV – they watch Netflix. Finn had literally never seen a commercial in his life. So I’m in the kitchen and he wanders in, this serious five-year-old look on his face.
“Dad. What kind of car do we have?”
“Jeep Grand Cherokee. Why?”
“Is that the same as a GMC?”
He slapped his hand down on the counter. “Okay. Because there’s this car called a GMC? And it’s the best kind of car. It won a trophy. We need to get one of those.”
“We’re not getting a GMC.”
“But… it’s the best car.”
I tell that story because it’s kind of funny and cute and reminded me how impressionable kids are.
And because – alas – it reminds me how impressionable I am.
So this is where I confess that while I am susceptible to many, many lies, here are….
THE TOP FIVE LIES THAT CONOR BUYS INTO LIKE THE IDIOT HE IS. (in no particular order):
1.) The Lie of the J. Crew Mannequin
I don’t know who makes J. Crew mannequins, but they should be hired to make the next generation of robots. They are just so handsome. Every time I see a J. Crew mannequin – every time – I imagine if I just get that outfit that the mannequin is wearing that I will look exactly like that mannequin.
I will not. That button down shirt will not give me (literally) rock hard abs and a (literal) chiseled jaw. Also, it is molded out of plastic so its shoulder to waist ratio makes it look like an elongated upside-down triangle. But my credit card is already out and I’m buying those clothes and I just can’t help myself.
2.) The Lie of the Instagram Braised Lamb.
I put a lot of effort into cooking for my family. I like doing it. But these cooking photos. They’re all these risottos on ancient farm tables made from a single thousand-year-old great sequoia and fresh cut sprigs of thyme are floating around it like woodland fairies and the napkins look like they were sewn by Betsy Ross. The braised lamb looks like an oil painting.
Meanwhile I’m running around and praying I can just get the food onto a plate with some paper napkins and that none of it falls on the floor. If I can do that, I’m pumping the air with my fist like I just won the Tour de France.
3.) The Lie of the Jeep Wrangler
We already have two great SUVs. But everyone driving a Jeep Wrangler with the top down looks like they could drop kick misery out of their lives forever because their hair is blowing in the wind and they are probably driving straight to Yosemite to scale the face of El Capitan and when they’re at the top they’re going to high five the moon. And my life would be a never-ending parade of summer fun with surfboards and my legs would always be tan and I wouldn’t look like a shaved potato when I went to the beach.
4.) The Lie of Best Buy’s TV Display Section
If you’re a guy, you want a bigger TV. We bought a new TV last year for the first time in about a decade. I thought I knew exactly what size I wanted. But then I go to Best Buy and the TV I wanted was next to a bigger TV and I started to think man, my TV looks pretty tiny. And by the time I had talked to the salesman he made it sound like this TV I had intended to purchase was WAY too small. Like I’d need to press my face against the screen just to make anything out. Like the TV I was about to buy was actually the same specs as the iPhone X and am I really going to watch Star Wars on that?
5.) The Lie of the Sweaty Guy Drinking Powerade at Sunrise
Look, I want to be in good shape. I want to be Daniel Craig emerging from the ocean, yes, but at the moment I’d settle for, at 43, being able to pick up my kids knowing that my back won’t hurt. I want to feel strong and able and I want to be able to lift heavy things and not grunt. And I’m starting to feel like the only way to do that is to join a high school football team and get yelled at by a coach about how “This is just the warm up, baby!” after I’m already leaking sweat like a burst water balloon.
That’s not going to be me. But every time I see that ad, and I’m sitting on the couch covered in Dorito dust, I feel depressed.
All of this reminds me why I was so happy in Nepal, living in that orphanage, when I had nothing. Because there were no mannequins or Instagrams or Jeeps or Best Buys or Powerade-Drinkers. Nothing to remind me of what I was missing out on.
Which only tells me that I’m measuring my happiness not by what I have but by what I don’t have. Which seems particularly unbiblical, for one thing, and I feel like Jesus was pretty clear about that. And also just generally ungrateful, which is sort of the same thing.
I am enough. I have enough. And I don’t usually believe that – do I ever believe it? – but identifying the problem seems like step number one. And the bible is probably step two. And maybe turning off those Lexus commercials wouldn’t hurt either.