I looked "Zits McMurphy" directly in the eyes and readied myself for a battle in bargaining. He'd worked at the movies since he was 13, and he knew all the tricks, but as a student of marketing, so did I, and I wasn't going down without a fight.
"I'll have a medium popcorn," I started.
"Fifty cents more and you get a large," he interjected.
"I want a MEDIUM popcorn," I continued, "
"Goobers? Twizzlers? Or Swedish fish? Only $2 with the super-value-mega-pack," he added while I examined my other menu options.
"No dammit! I want the popcorn and a medium diet coke!" I stammered.
"Thirty cents more and you get a large soda with free refills..." he said, and with that, he had me. I was thirsty and he said the magic word, "fill."
I nodded in reassurance that I did indeed want, and had always wanted, the large soda. Zits then reached behind the counter and handed over a garbage pale-sized bucket of diet coke.
"Shouldn't I get a life guard with this thing? God forbid I drown in my refreshment," I said, but he was already tempting the next customer with another great "spend more then you want to -- get more than you want to" deal-and-a-half.
Why do we get suckered into buying soft drinks that have their own tide schedules?
Well, we do it because the powers of marketing are more domineering and convincing than the George Foreman Rotisserie infommercial. As a generation born and raised to be consumers, the stench of 80s' materialism clings to us like the stench of falafel when you walk out of the Pita Pit. We've been trained to want the biggest, the best and the newest.
We want small electronics to put in our big houses, with our big-screen TV-DVD-Egg Cookers and our wrinkle-free, microwave-safe pants. Our professors want us to develop "million dollar ideas," and by god, don't we all go to "BIG Red?"
We don't want to start small, or tout our "$4.73 ideas."
We want to drink beer out of yard glasses and hit 50-foot bongs. Forget dime bags, this is the year of the metric ton. We go to the bars with the biggest bouncers, and we read magazines like Maxim, where as magazines like Itty-bitty-teenie-weenie have all but fallen to the wayside.
We're all caught in a carbonated current of excess, and I feel like my major is teaching me to be a professional consumer. I want to own everything. Forget renting movies, I want contracts with every member of the brat pack so that I can have them sing "Don't you, forget about me," while they recreate the final scenes of St. Elmo's Fire in my living room. I want the tangible and the intangible.
By the end of next week I'll be the sole owner to the patent and copyright on Love. That's right
from now on, the best you can do is "Fall in sort-of-more-than-like." My lawyers will be on the prowl so start practicing it now, "Honey, I sort-of-more-than-like you."
To avoid confusion, the "red heart" is still registered to N.Y., but the word is mine, which means the state's new slogan is "I red heart N.Y." I looked into getting the trademark on "sort-of-more-than-like" but even to me, that sounded a little ridiculous.
But perhaps it's time to take a step back and refocus on what's important. We wouldn't need to drown ourselves in cola if we weren't going to see movies about dimension-jumping, power-hungry Chinamen, hell bent on pursuing careers in acting.
We wouldn't need to purchase coin-sized mp3 players that can double as universal remotes for our alarm clocks if we weren't all self-conscious about the size of our genitals, and we wouldn't be so obsessed with compulsively buying stuff if we weren't all so obsessively compulsive.
Zits McMurphy knows how to sell you the large sizes because someone at concession boot camp trained him as a weapon of mass marketing. He knows that you know that the popcorn people jack up the prices so high that they make an 800 percent profit when you order the medium size. He also knows that you know that by buying a large, they only make 810 percent profit.
So now you have to think to yourself, are you a slave to the people of the corn? Do you get more popcorn then you can eat to grab the bargain, or do you comfort yourself in knowing that while those cock-sucking kernel doctors cheated you out of six bucks, they didn't get $6.50 from you?
It's a tough call that many people like yourself are faced with answering every day. Sometimes I'm sure you may even feel depressed or lonely when you don't know which size to purchase
which is why I spent years researching and developing this new and improved, "Popcorn Size Selector." It's easy to use, and if you act now, I'll throw in a gumball juicer and a 30-page guide to every episode of Quantum Leap. It's a limited time offer, so act now, or risk losing your money somewhere else.