Advertising dilemma

The suggested theme for VISIONS (a monthly magazine for our county) next month is, of course, Valentine’s Day, romance, love, etc. The contest for the month is “The Most Kissable Lips.” As this is the primary advertising vehicle for my business, I thought it would be appropriate for me to exhibit esprit de corps, enthusiasm, and liveliness, with the help of my always handy MILLION WORD CROSSWORD DICTIONARY. I have been using it for the past few months to add zest, pep, bite, elan, kick, zing, spark, verve, energy (you get the point) to my little 2 column x 2″ ad. This is much better than a mere thesaurus.

I started with the obvious term: LOVE (see below). What I was reminded of is how odd and slightly bewildering it is to find myself, in the business of clothing alterations, ostensibly engaged with looks, appearances, self-image, facade, personal impressions, exhibition, glamour, stylishness, etc. People ask me, “How are they wearing them now?”(meaning any aspect of any item of clothing). This gives me a huge (interior) chuckle, first of all wondering who “they” are, and secondly, knowing that I am the last person whom anyone should ask what is “in” or “out” in popular culture. But I try not to be smart, spout off, hold forth, go on and on, harangue, spiel, rant, yak, etc. I usually say ” I don’t know”, which is true (believe me). And I may add something like, “You know, opinions differ on these things. The main thing is that you like the way it looks and feel comfortable. Perhaps I can help you determine if things are in good proportion, and feasible.” I spare them, but not you who are reading, this further elaboration: What a person wears and how one appears to others and so forth, are not the things we should love, be attached to, care for, cherish, adore, dote on, esteem, cling to, revere, fall for, idolize, hold dear, yearn for, treasure, hold in high regard…Some of these are reserved for people, although most, in the fullest sense, are appropriate only for GOD.

The big $$ I charge for some operation I have performed on someone’s $2 thrift store find, huge bargain, or hand-me-down is based on the explicit cost or intrinsic value of the item, but on the skill required, the hours involved, the expense of doing business, and the basic (very) requirements for a livelihood. If someone wanted to know, the truth of it is that I believe that whether or not something fits perfectly (per se) is a matter of no consequence in the long haul, and in that sense, this work is worth nothing. I had a friend in college who loved to say in a cultivated sardonic tone, “What difference will it make 10 years from now?” I have remembered it, because it has turned out to be a valuable question to ask. Because on another level what I do and how I do it makes a life or death difference, though not for the sake of someone’s prom or cruise. It makes a difference, now, and in the very long haul (unto the ages of ages), how this day to day grind of work becomes the locus, arena, occasion, for the REAL work of how I treat, regard, respect, honor, dignify, listen to, appreciate, esteem the people who come in to my shop with their clothes and their issues: lack of confidence, bewilderment, stress, anxiety, depression, compulsions, grief, illness, bereavement, etc. The real “tools of the trade” are good ears, compassion, a sense of proportion and balance, a responsive spirit, unceasing prayer, a quiet heart, humility. It will take a long time to acquire all the fine tools I would like to have. But I have an inkling, clue, glimmering, hunch, indication, intimation of them.

I am always thankful for and to Chris K who owns and edits VISIONS. We have an ongoing dialogue about such things, and I have found that preparing the ad every month gives me a good arena for assessing, weighing, pondering, reckoning, sizing up, balancing, appraising, keeping tabs, paying attention to what it is I am really doing (or not doing) or want to–am given or called–to do.
And of course I am thankful to Daniel Stark and Stanley Newman who wrote this phenomenal work: THE MILLION WORD CROSSWORD DICTIONARY (the world’s biggest, newest, most complete crossword dictionary by far), Harper Resource, 2004. Not that I have any inclination whatsoever to work crosswords, but this is a great (and thick) book, astounding, highly entertaining, and helpful in other ways. It fits my main criterion for a good book: that it will change my life.

Oh, by the way, this is what my proposed ad copy for February is: FITTING DUDS, GARB, GEAR, FROCKS, FINERY, RAIMENT, REGALIA…

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4 Responses to “Advertising dilemma”


  1. 1 Tia January 23, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Brava!!! And what a find of a book! I am repeatedly (and there’s an overused word for ya) frustrated with the limitations of my little thesaurus and have added that book to my list. And, just to help the community out, I’ll reveal who does indeed have the most kissable, or at least most “perfect” lips…I’m married to him. It’s a little-known fact about him but they are, The Perfect Lips. I find myself wanting a better adjective than that though….

  2. 2 Dolly January 24, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Ahh…the tiny, teen-weeny, little-bitty, itsy-bitsy stitches of the tiny, pint-size, Mickey-Mouse, skin-deep desires of our lives; and the glory of clear sight to undo, unbuckle, unsnap, unzip them in the pursuit of acquiring, receiving, pocketing the fine tools of the trade.

  3. 3 Dolly January 24, 2007 at 11:52 am

    (cont’d) The fruit of quiet, stillness–hesychia–that comes from “keeping one’s mind in hell and despairing not” that revives, remakes, reshapes, re-creates our rags, tatters, hand-me-down attire.

  4. 4 marthajaneinortn January 24, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks, Dolly. I’m mute, dumbstruck, speechless.


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