Neither Newly Wed, Nor Nearly Dead

I can't go there.

I can’t go there.

Over the past few months we’ve received a number of brochures in the mail sent by companies who assume that we are either very old and/or very wealthy. Has anyone else had this problem?

Many of these mailings are glossy brochures advertising Viking river cruises to Prague, Budapest and other exotic and far-off places, with costs for two exceeding the cost of a patio or used car. A few cruises are sponsored by the alumni association of our alma mater, which has no doubt assumed that everybody in the Class of ’76 is now flush with cash – even those of us who studied journalism. What bothers me, beyond the assumption that we have all this cash, is that cruises have always been for “the newly wed or the nearly dead.” Since we’ve been married almost 15 years I can only assume the worst.

Because my husband has his own business, development officers from our alma mater over the past few years have contacted him about meeting personally. “I’m going to be in Boston next (date),” bubbled one in a friendly note. “Would love to have the chance to meet with you and talk about all the great things our school is doing.”  Moreover, other mailings that we’ve received have suggested that we leave a “lasting legacy” to their organization in our estates.  Quoting a childhood neighbor, we’d just like to have enough to pay the guy who shovels the last shovel of dirt.

I wonder if somewhere in cyberspace, some evil trolls are combing through our emails and clicks and cross-referencing them with data about the jobs we’ve had, the organizations we’ve supported and the magazines that we’ve ordered – then divine that we are millionaire empty-nesters with money to burn.

Here is what these trolls would see on the surface: a couple in their late 50s, who are part of AARP and who’ve given money to public television, living in a Zip Code with a lot of high-net-worth individuals. A home-based business that is doing well; an Expedia account; an AKC-registered dog, an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Bingo! The type of family that would plunk down a Honda-sized chunk of cash to cruise the Rhine.

Here is what they don’t see: our biggest and most successful investments have been in six big accounts – five of them have now matured and are doing just great. The remaining one is just 14. The reason we’ve sent money to PBS is because I received in return a free DVD set of Ken Burns’ documentary of the Civil War for Bob for Christmas. Our Expedia account is used mainly to book the cheapest flights to places where we can mooch off relatives. While our town includes a lot of private wine cellars and humidors, we store our wine on a few wrought-iron racks from Pier One, and our after-party ritual is sprawling on the couch and watching a football game.

So there you have it. Please stop sending us this travel porn. We’d love to cruise the Danube, but we have a patio and replacement windows in our future.

14 thoughts on “Neither Newly Wed, Nor Nearly Dead

  1. If I came to live with you…could the sprawl on the couch include maybe a movie sandwiched between all those football games? I do windows……

  2. You are on! I’ll watch the movie with you. Normally I have my nose buried in a book during the games.

  3. So funny you should write about this Cathy, Uncle John and I are constantly getting brochures from Viking River Cruises and the like. Of course we wish we could take such wonderful although expensive trips, but putting food on our table and paying a mortgage comes first!!!!!!!

  4. I understand–I wish I didn’t

  5. Too funny! Also, some very nice writing! Say- listen- there’s this truly ” exciting opportunity” I’d love to discuss with you! 😉 people are funny! Professional booster recruiters are funnier, still.

  6. Besides the new patio and windows, don’t forget the used car for that 14 year old investment maturing in 2 years

  7. We get those brochures too–Haven’t figured out how to deal with the college development office stuff yet! Love the humor you’ve found and shared. If you have aging parents, you might want to check out my blog–which does not endorse senior living places, retiring to a desert island or cruises! –http:///

  8. My parents get brochures from Viking cruises all the time! I guess it’s just a marketing thing, like how now that I’ve graduated I get at least 5 credit card offers a month. Companies seem to think that when you’re young you need the credit to burn, but when you’re mature, you’ve had enough life knowledge to keep money to burn on river cruises.

  9. Too funny! My kids get credit card come-ons too…usually with a low limit and a high interest rate.

  10. This post struck a nerve. Alumni associations should be hired by intelligence agencies: they can find you no matter how hard you try to hide from them.

    I also understand fancy mailings to the “right” zip codes. In my mailbox about two weeks ago, I received a glossy 3 pound magazine entitled Burgess Superyacht Living & Style. The smallest boat is this magazine was bigger by far than my house!

    • CaL, I understand! About 7 years ago we received a “Boston Design” magazine that was a glossy showcase for all the high-end builders and designers. The magazine included guides for doing-over kitchens, staircases, and other projects, all of which included a list of what you’d expect to pay. It ranged from about $25,000 for a room makeover or staircase to well over $100K for a kitchen. God knows what it is now.

      The alumni groups are a pain…we even get calls from our son’s alma mater, even though he graduated three years ago. After weeks of not answering when I saw them on the caller ID, I finally picked up the phone and told them, “we enjoyed supporting you and we appreciate the education you gave our son, but we are done!”

      Thanks for writing.

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