You'd think, after years of reading magazine lists, I'd have learned not to take them seriously. "Eleven Secret Love Tests Guys Give Women," "15 Things Men Don't Want You to Know About Them," "3 Stay-Svelte Tips for the Weekend" - you know the kind of lists I mean.
You'd think, after years of reading magazine lists, I'd have learned not to take them seriously. "Eleven Secret Love Tests Guys Give Women," "15 Things Men Don't Want You to Know About Them," "3 Stay-Svelte Tips for the Weekend" -- you know the kind of lists I mean.
True, I've moved on from the examples above - all actual lists taken from Glamour magazine's website -- to lists that are more, shall we say, wide-ranging and general in scope, but the lists themselves aren't noticeably more intelligent.
But the best of the worst lists I've seen recently arrived as a four-page, illustrated flier in the AARP Bulletin. It's apparently a follow-up to a list published last summer, called "99 Great Ways to Save." It was such a hit with readers, the editors decided to bring it back, this time calling it well, this time calling it "99 Great Ways to Save" again. I can only imagine the happy laughter in the staff room when the decision to start compiling ways to save again was announced.
My husband read the list first, then handed it to me because he knows the sort of thing I find hilarious.
I can't list all 99 Great Ways, of course; I'll have to limit myself to mentioning a few of what I consider the greatest of the Great Ways to Save.
No. 78, under the category "Home," for instance. "Repurpose pantyhose," this tip directs. "Use the legs to scrub dishes, shine shoes, train shrubs or store onions, flower bulbs and paintbrushes. The seat can protect squash and melons from garden critters or be stretched over a wire hanger to make a pond or pool skimmer."
Well, to address the last part first, if I had a pond or a pool and the need for a skimmer, I certainly wouldn't take the chance of letting the neighbors recognize the business end of the skimmer as the sitting-down end of my pantyhose. Furthermore, I haven't the slightest idea what a person can possibly hope to train shrubs to do. Odd jobs? Long division?All mine have ever been persuaded to do is play dead.
But in any case, and leaving aside the fact that this tip and several others sound as if they were clipped from Heloise, I can't use No. 78 because I almost never wear pantyhose.
I never go to yard sales, either, so No. 76: "Be a yard sale shark," means nothing to me. Except that if AARP expects its demographic to purchase casseroles and slippers and other "choice items" at yard sales, I'll have to find another market segment.
Oh, here's one I can't wait to tell you about, No. 13: "Pay yourself." This is how it works: "Put an open jar in a conspicuous place in your home. When you do something you might have paid for -- ironing, cooking, fixing a good latte -- feed the jar with the amount you'd have spent. Do the same if you resist the impulse to buy something. The money will add up fast."
It sure will. Especially after, once I can see that jar over there, I start making money-spending decisions like mad. Suddenly, I feel like taking an Alaskan cruise. But I guess I won't -- put $3,500 in the jar. Sometimes I think I could drink two more lattes a day. But I won't because that would be nuts. Eight dollars in the jar! And if someone out there in the world is willing to iron my white T-shirts and the dog's dress-up kerchiefs, let's say I thought about it. Twenty-five dollars, saved in the jar.
A brilliant plan, right? Except it won't work, because for one thing, I don't have the $3,500 that I'm not using for the cruise -- that's why I'm not going on the cruise -- and for another thing, once a person has a jar, she gets all self-conscious. When a person's self-conscious, things like savings jars don't work anymore.
Oh, and listen to this: No. 33: "Cute choppers: If your whitening strips are too big for your teeth, cut them in half horizontally. Two for the price of one!"
AARP, are you serious? Seriously serious? Do I need to tell you that not buying whitening strips will save a person $35, $40, which she can then pop into her savings jar?
Though if that person has to be told to cut those whitening strips horizontally and not the other way, I guess she's never going to get it.
Another thing, AARP. No. 95: "Home spa. Pour a gallon of whole milk into a warm bath, then climb in. (Cleopatra did.)"
Pour a gallon of whole milk down the drain? Is that what you're advocating? Oh, sure, you're suggesting we sit in it first, as if that makes a difference, and then it goes down the drain, without nourishing babies or children or calves or anybody.Just because Cleopatra did, eh?
I suppose if Cleopatra told you to get bitten by an asp, you would. Let's just hope you followed tip No. 37 first: "Go out green: Biodegradable coffins and other eco-friendly burial measures can cost half to two-thirds less than traditional burials."
Have to see it for yourself? Fine. Go to www.aarp.org/bulletin.Email Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.