If I ever wondered to what degree the internet had me cookied, I got my answer today. The irritating ad-bar that runs down the side of my webmail was showing a mocked up certificate of some kind for Harold Bradshaw. This would be my dead grandfather who had an MD. So the net demons have grabbed his name but absolutely none of the context surrounding it from my e-mails. The whole “MD” thing has flown under the radar, or I’d see spam inviting him to attend some medical convention, not an offer for a certificate in something sketchy.
Nor have they picked up on his actual relationship to me, because otherwise I’d be getting Father’s Day tips. On the other hand, many of the cookie manufacturers do know about Father’s Day, and they have some guesses about who I need to shop for. I get “reminders” on Amazon that George Powell and Scott Merriman still haven’t received their father’s day gifts (but if I pay extra-supercharged shipping fees, my present can still arrive on time). Sorry guys. You’re getting e-cards and, in Scott’s case, a couple of small gifts to accompany identical physical cards the kids picked out themselves (but wouldn’t share). I won’t be paying shipping. The internet hasn’t figured out that my father-in-law is Dave, but it wants me to shop for Scott’s cousin David, my brother-in-law Will, and my cousin Virginia, who I’m pretty sure is not a Dad. And, quite frankly, I don’t think that if I buy now, any amount of extra money will get a physical gift to arrive on time, as it’s Saturday night and tomorrow is a Sunday.
Just about every store I’ve given my e-mail address to has spent the last week loading me up on Father’s Day ideas. Dog.com wants to know if Fudge doesn’t deserve a new bed, never mind that he’s neutered and it’s unlikely that he’s fathered anything. (Though he was not fixed when the pound got him at three, so who knows, maybe there are some Fudge-mutts out there wondering about their deadbeat Dad.) Retrevo.com says Scott and George could both use any number of nifty gizmos. Like Amazon, they haven’t found Dave either. Sorry web. I am very, very careful about getting my own Dad electronic gifts, and I only do so when I know I’ve got something workable. And I have learned the hard way that Scott and Dave have almost no interest in gadgetry.
Even the less commercial groups attempt targeted marketing. Periodically, I’ll get taken by some social cause and donate either my signature or actual funds, landing me on a mailing list. That means that for Father’s Day, MSPCAA-Angel wants to know if I don’t want to “Give Dad the Gift of Love” by helping stray dogs in Massachusetts. And Emily V. at Care2Action tells me Dad deserves a quiet trip to the Grand Canyon (as opposed to one filled with the noise pollution from commercial airplanes). MoveOn.org hopes I’ll make a giant monetary contribution to its political activities, and Newt Gingrich feels my father deserves to know I support him for president. (Two problems there Mr. Lizard. First, I don’t support you for anything. Second, if I did, I’d hide in shame, not advertise it to my father or husband. And how the fuck did I get on your list, anyway? My causes are all liberal.)
So, no Google, nobody on my list is getting a tie from me this year (or probably ever). And I won’t be purchasing my husband, father, or father-in-law electronica to clutter the shelves. Nor will these wonderful men be receiving political propaganda or donations-in-their-names from me. I don’t plan to go in for any last minute gew-gaws or expensive junk. I will probably cook pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, with a little help from Sam and Caroline, and I will doubtless make three phone calls in the afternoon. (The web also hasn’t found my still-living grandfather, the other George Powell in my life, who just turned 96.) I think we’ll have a peaceful day and enjoy each other’s company, rather than spend more money on yet another marketing holiday.