Between the decade
BY BRUCE STEINBERG
Every winter, for six years during my childhood, I got it in my head to roll up a snow ball, put it in the freezer, and take it out in July. But every year, I failed. Once I just forgot to make the snow ball; the other five, well, she wouldn’t admit to it but I suspected my sister threw it out by March. It wasn’t until my mother drove me to college to start my freshman year when I learned the truth. While going over the history of all the things my sister did wrong to me growing up (because she was a junior at the same college), my mom stated without emotion, “I threw those snow balls out, not your sister.” Before I could cry out—Why oh why! — she said, “Because what good could have come from a rock-hard snow ball in July?”
No good, Mom. No good at all.
I relate this story now to the New Moon Ski & Bike Shop catalog 2019 / 2020 that arrived in the mail early last October. Wouldn’t it be great, I had thought in 2009, to save the 2009 / 2010 catalog to then compare the prices and the product advertising ten years hence? And so, I did.
Not surprising, though, is how quickly I forgot about that catalog with all that can happen over ten years. And so, I forgot, until I didn’t. While cleaning out the office room one day last summer, under a stack of other things I thought to save for no reason I could remember, there was the New Moon Ski & Bike Shop catalog from 2009 / 2010. Once again, I saved it, this time in a basket of papers in the family room, keeping a reminder Post-It note stuck inside my wallet.
When October came and the 2019 / 2020 catalog arrived, I went to the basket in the family room only to discover — somebody had tossed out the 2009 / 2010 catalog I had saved …for… ten … years! There aren’t enough “R’s” in the keyboard to type out the “ARGH!” I exhaled.
I looked everywhere else an old catalog could hide that I knew couldn’t exist because I also knew the exact time I had placed it in the exact basket in the exact room, and it just wasn’t there. My wife helped me look, but I suspected. My son helped me look, but I suspected even more. Then, I realized, perhaps I was the one who threw it out. After all, the basket in the family room is where we also put other magazines and even newspapers, some of which we discard. But not the magazines at the bottom, I thought desperately. The stuff on the bottom is supposed to be saved, and therefore safe.
My wife wanted to know what my plans were with the old catalog. Of course, the plan was to compare prices and hyperbole advertising. To show how much less expensive skis, boots, and poles were in 2010 as they are in 2020, yet the bravado of speed advertisement remains the same, as do Birkie finishing times, generally.
To what end? my wife wanted to know.
I thought to answer — To show the foolishness of advertisement, and believing in the hype.
To make fun of who, then? she followed up.
Well, I’m not going to make fun of the New Moon Ski & Bike Shop, one of my favorite places in Wisconsin if not the world. How about fellow skiers? No, I wouldn’t want to do that, certainly not! My wife pointed out that people already understand price increases and advertisement very well without my lecturing. Wouldn’t that make you seem a little foolish? she asked.
I didn’t want to make myself look foolish either.
Now I’m left watching early November snowfall actually accumulate in Northern Illinois, just as it did in mid-October, hoping these are good signs for skiing season. The good feeling causes me to apologize to you all. Even though I failed at saving the old catalog and never
did my comparisons on both pricing and hyperbole between decade-separated catalogs, I did commit my thought crime. Yes, everything costs more and advertising is what it is. Meanwhile time passes and raises our finishing times as much as it raises ski prices. Nothing new, I suppose.
By the way, New Moon—$1,650 for boots, poles, and skis with holes in the tips?