Monday, September 13, 2010

Suburbs of Our Discontent

I have categories on my mind today. Yesterday I finally learned how to make email folders after reaching the 10,000 messages in my inbox point. (Go ahead. Laugh. You wouldn't be the first.) The problem is, I'd been too scared to delete anything in case I needed to find that one piece of vital info in message #4, 562 about activating my son's Club Penguin account, or that reminder from a student in message #8,251 about writing his rec letter. I'm like one of those sad, sad people on those TLC hoarders shows.

Making those folders was an act of liberation. I was finally free of the tyranny that is my swiss-cheese memory. At the same time, I had to make some tough decisions about how to categorize things. Do you have one big "Personal" folder? Or do you break it into groups like "Vacations I'll never take but still do research on," "CVS Coupons I'll never remember to use," and "Emails from my dad about why my house isn't selling"? The possibilities are endless, and each one raises its own questions about who we are and how we think.

When Shakespeare's theater friends collected and published his plays in the First Folio, they just had three categories: Histories, Tragedies, and Comedies. This was not a perfect system, but it was what it was. Later editors would switch things up and make new categories like Romances and Problem Plays.

Which brings me to today and my trip to CVS. A member of my family, who shall remain nameless, is suffering from an unattractive condition on his/her foot, so I was looking for Compound W. I started over at "Skin Care," the obvious choice, and then moved on to "Foot Care," but with no luck.

Then I saw it: "Warts and Lice." I gasped. This was worse than having to go to the "Family Planning" aisle. Just in case I was wondering if the thing on my family member's foot was leprously grotesque and ostracizing, this simple act of categorizing made it all as clear as the nit on your face.

I grabbed the bottle and ran to the cashier where I paid for it in full (without, of course, the printed out coupon I forgot to bring.)

1 comment:

  1. Do you know, I've heard it told from someone with firsthand experience that a certain foot condition can be cured through the application of duct tape for a period of a few days, thus saving trips to certain CVS aisles.

    Also, I too suffer from "lack-of-e-mail-folder-itis" and rely (perhaps too much) on gmail's search function. Perhaps soon there'll be an aisle in CVS for that, too.