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Sunday, March 8, 2015


The other evening I braved the frozen wasteland, the wolves and polar bears in my quest to retrieve the mail. It was amongst the most harrowing 80 feet I have ever traversed!

Upon opening the mailbox, dimly illuminated by the streetlight,  I saw it! The envelope! No, not THE Envelope; rather it was the regular monthly blue envelope packed with value coupons.  Yippee.

The envelope languished on our table for a few days until  in a moment of reckless abandon, I tore it open. I have to admit the reckless abandon was borne of abject boredom. Flipping through the roofing companies, the heating and air conditioning guys, and pizza joints; it struck me.

Why do virtually all of these super deals say “New Customer Special!” or words to that effect?

Let’s say, for example, I am a regular customer of “Cheezee Louisie’s Pizza” There it is! A coupon…three dollars off a large super-deluxe pizza! Oh happy day! My favorite one! While visions of pepperoni are kicking up their heels, I see the fine print: “New Customers Only”

“What the heck?” I ask. For all these many years I have been a loyal customer! My money helped keep the lights on! I have helped pay for Louisie’s BMW! Not once have I ever gotten an extra topping for free! Never have I had a “large” upgraded to an “extra-large” at no charge!

Now, some new-comer, an interloper… a… a usurper!... gets to save three bucks off a ‘za I helped to create?!? Putting bacon on it was my idea!

“Louisie”, I says, “You need to put some bacon on this bad boy!” Next thing you know, Bam!... bacon on the pie!

Where is the honor? Where is the fidelity? Where is the appreciation?

I’ll tell you where….in the big, brown dumpster behind the shop! That’s where!

All my life I remember my Mom, my Aunts, my friends’ Moms… all saving and using coupons while shopping. Some people even saved coupons from various cigarette brands. These could be redeemed for nifty stuff like picnic baskets, hand tools, a new putter… and the Grand-Daddy of them all: Your Very Own Iron Lung!

All of which got me to thinking.

What if coupons had been used throughout history???

Is the Sphinx a result of “Irsu’s Patios and Pyramids Company” offering a “free decorative statue of your choice with each pyramid purchased”?

 Did it end up in its present form due to a compromise between Pharaoh and Mrs. Pharaoh about the design? He wanted it to be a manly representation of himself; she was the Original Crazy Cat Lady and wanted a gigantic feline. And---taah daah!---we have the Sphinx!

Did Hannibal (the real-life one, not the fictional one of movie fame) end up with elephants on his military campaigns solely because he had a “Try ‘em! You’ll like ‘em!” coupon from Petrarch’s Pachyderms?

Did Herod send Three Wise Men to Bethlehem because he couldn't pass up the “Three can travel for the cost of two!” coupon from Belshazzar's Travel Agency?

All through the pages of History, the evidence of coupon usage is apparent.

I offer as evidence the choice of Columbus’s ships; the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.  Come on, we all know the guy was on a tight budget. He could have had ships with names like Round Earth Voyager, Plunderer, and Lollipop.  

But no.

Obviously, he got a coupon from “Smilin’ Al, the Seafarer’s Pal” in the mail.

A deal that was too good to pass up. “Buy two ships ending with the same vowel; get a third same vowel ship FOR FREE!”

Did the Dutch really cheat the Natives when they traded for Manhattan Island?

Incidentally, the name means either “hilly island” or “place of intoxication” in Algonquin, according to documents written at the time. Or it could  also mean, “let’s go to the hilly island and get good and drunk”.
But I digress.

Perhaps, the Algonquin’s; noticing first Henry Hudson sailing around, naming rivers, bays, and automobiles after himself; then the Italian Verrazano poking around naming the skinny part of the river after himself. Then the Portuguese explore Gomez was cruising up and down the rivers giving places impossible to pronounce Portuguese names.

Then, they hear the word on the street was the Dutch were antsy to establish their turf in the New World. They decided to write out some coupons:

” Crazy Land Deal! $24 in trinkets, beads, and what-not takes all! No Closing Costs! No Points! No Inspection! First $24 takes it!”
 Peter Minuit cut that puppy out of his weekly buckskin news, and cashed it in!

On and on it goes.

 Jefferson didn’t negotiate a super bargain with the French for the Louisiana Purchase. He had a coupon “Buy one city below sea-level, get half a continent FREE!”

Lewis and Clark didn’t just stumble upon Sacajawea. No, they saw the smoke signals: “Hire a guide for one mountain range, get discovery of ocean No Extra Charge!”

And so it continues. These little slips of paper spur commerce along yet to this day.

I continue riffling through the pile on the table top; window replacement companies, drive-way seal-coating, dry-cleaners…
Wait… what’s this?
Ten Dollar Haircut?

Gotta go! See ya later!!

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