Advanced Marketing 101

Well folks, it’s that time again. No, not time for wine—that’s ALL the time. But I’ve been amassing some hilarious advertisements so get ready for Advanced Marketing Tips With Facebook Marketplace!

Tip Number One: Intrigue Your Potential Buyers

Up first is this great deal on the Invisible Man. Now, I didn’t know that the Invisible Man’s real name was Wilfred Shacket—I thought Jack Griffin was the Invisible Man, who debuted first in H.G. Wells’ novel and was played in the film of the same name by the inimitable Claude Rains. But I guess when you’re an evil scientist, you can call yourself anything you damn well want. My big question, though, is how exactly was he captured? I can only assume that he was caught unawares, this coat was thrown over him, and then he was restrained by coat hanger until the $100 ransom was paid. I have a feeling that there’s not much interest in Invisible Men these days, judging from the reduction in price after only 6 hours. Then again, I’m willing to bet he’s a little obnoxious, being see-through and all, and maybe the people who are holding him captive are just a tiny bit fed up, but I have to admit, I’m intrigued.

Tip Number Two: Appeal To The Sophisticates In The Crowd

Continuing on with the literary theme, we move from Wells to Shakespeare—Hamlet to be precise. Apparently, these chairs are a couple of depressive Danes covered in floral chintz. After having to put up with their “antic chair disposition” for so long, their owner is as desperate to be rid of them as Claudius was to “upholster” Hamlet. As for the description, all I have to say is “Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.”

Tip Number Three: Sharks, Sharks, Sharks

For the low, low price of only $40, you can purchase this lovely Ascent Chair, which I assume will launch you into the air in case of a shark attack. (I don’t know why I said ‘shark attack’ but then again, I don’t know why more people don’t use spellcheck, and besides, everyone loves sharks. Or at least I do).

Me: How does it work?
Seller: You push this little button hidden under the arm here.
Me: And?
Seller: And you ascend. Obviously.
Me: And the sharks?
Seller: Take a bucket of chum up with you and keep throwing pieces into the water from the lofty heights until they’re satiated.
Me: Awesome. Sold!

Tip Number Four: Obfuscate And Confuse Your Audience

And then of course, there’s Jan. I stumbled across Jan one day when I saw an ad for a “Raining Boiler”. I was intrigued (see Tip Number One)—was this some kind of medieval torture device or a new-fangled way to have a shower? Then I got lost down a rabbithole of Jan’s mostly illiterate ads, including another one for a different rain barrel that was possibly named after one of her children, Rian Bellar. Poor Rian—according to the ad, “just the place that water comes broken” which I took to mean that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. At any rate, Jan has numerous incomprehensible postings including this one for a Red Nice Patty, which makes me think that Jan is originally from Boston (this is no slur on Bostonians, but seriously, say Red Nice Patty to yourself—do you hear it?)

But Jan, despite your attempts to convince potential purchasers with your positive description of this household item, I have to be honest with you: this is NOT a nice red potty. In fact, it’s the most disgusting potty I’ve ever seen and even the rock bottom price of $5 won’t sell me. Jan seems to be the queen of irony, as proven by this ad of hers:

These “flowers” are about as lucky as that potty is nice.

Tip Number 5: Give The People What They Want

Speaking of nice, here’s a lovely offer from a completely normal young man who only wants to help.

Kiss my boots AND do my chores AND pay me for the pleasure?! Isn’t that sweet? Maybe I should introduce him to Jan—I bet she’d appreciate someone who could post comprehensible ads for her.

How Much Is Too Much Information?

As you know, quite often I buy and sell things on Facebook Marketplace, particularly if it’s something large that I don’t have room for in my booth at the antique market. I wouldn’t mind expanding, and there are spaces available at the market where I just started working, but I’m not sure about that because last week I had a really weird dream. When I left the secret agency, they threw me an amazing retirement party, with a Kudo board and a slide show, a Kahoot game where people had to prove how well they knew me by answering multiple choice questions for points (apparently when I’m concentrating and looking for a file on my computer for someone, I sing “doo di-doo, doo di-doo”, which was something I had no idea I did until it was pointed out to me, and then I realized I, in fact, do this, and that revelation was both hilarious and embarrassing). They also got a pipe band to play for me virtually, and wow, did I cry. And then I started my new part-time job and I hadn’t even been there for a week when I dreamed that they were throwing me a retirement party as well, but nowhere near as good as the first one I had. I was in the lunch break room and there was a large Bristol board poster that said Happy Retirement, and a bunch of signatures that I didn’t recognize, because I’ve only worked there for 6 days in total. There were photographs on the board but I wasn’t in any of them because again, I’ve only worked there for 6 days. And in the middle, in large letters, there was the heading “Famous Quote”, which was presumably something I was renowned for saying, and under it were the words, “I’M LEAVING.” Because I hadn’t worked there long enough to be famous for saying anything else, I guess. I woke up laughing hysterically and thought “At least no one noticed that I say doo di-doo.” So maybe it’s an omen, who knows?

 At any rate, last week, I talked about the set of silver that I found. It was filthy and tarnished but I polished and under all that tarnish, it was beautiful. It’s a huge set with 12 place settings and four servings pieces—64 pieces overall, and way too big to fit in my booth, so I put an ad on Facebook Marketplace for it.

Here’s the ad copy that I used:

Gorgeous Italian Silverware

Gorgeous vintage Italian silver silverware set in wooden case, just in time for Christmas. 12 place settings plus 4 serving pieces. Freshly polished and ready to use. Located in (my town) Ontario.

It’s a very clear ad—the description is IMMEDIATELY BELOW the heading, and it’s accompanied by 5 photographs. And here are the top ten questions I got about the ad I posted, all from different people, and my responses:

1. Is it silver?

Yes, it’s silver. If you mean, is it sterling, no—it’s silver-plated.

2. Is it English?

No, it’s Italian.

3. How many place settings are there?

There are twelve plus 4 serving pieces.

4. (Follow-up) How many pieces is that altogether?

64

5. Where are you located? (I got 3 of these questions).

I’m in (my town).

6. Are you in (my town)? (I got two of these questions).

Yes.

7. Is this vintage or is it new?

It’s from the late ‘70s so it’s vintage.

8. What’s the case made out of?

Wood.

9. Is it still available? Can I have $50 for it?

You want the silver and you want me to pay you $50? No, sorry.

10. Mine where’s your place?

(I didn’t respond to this one—was she implying that I’d stolen it from her and she wanted it back? And if so, I’d already said in the ad where my ‘place’ is.)

I also got a message from a woman who liked the silver but didn’t want to buy it—she just wanted to know how I got it so shiny. She seemed nice and didn’t ask any more ridiculous questions so I sent her the recipe I got off the internet and she was really grateful. I just hope she actually reads it and doesn’t just plunge everything into sulfuric acid, as one does.

Ultimately, I sold the set to a woman who asked many of the same questions and offered a lower price, but I was exhausted so I counter-offered closer to my asking price. She accepted and e-transferred me the money to hold it for her until next Tuesday. I just hope she knows where I live.

We were both exhausted.

Balancing The Books

So I did the most incredibly dumb thing last week, and you’re the only one I’ve told, because it’s so embarrassing, so don’t say anything to anyone, okay?

A couple of Sundays ago, I was in a hardware store in the next town to buy some white spray paint and other odds and ends. I’d recently purchased this very cool antique wicker chair and side table, but they needed freshening up, and just like I prefer hem tape to actual sewing, I also will spray paint literally anything if it means avoiding using a paint brush. I got up to the checkout and paid for everything, then went home, but when I took my purchases out of the bag and saw the receipt, I realized that it said 2@$9.99 instead of 3. I felt a little guilty that I’d gotten a free can of spray paint, but whatevs, am I right?

But then, after the incident at the fabric store last week where I got away scot-free with the right sized foam cushion in direct defiance of the “No Foam Exchange” policy, I started to worry about the can of spray paint and maybe that I should go back to the hardware store and pay for it. And no, this wasn’t me trying to be morally superior—this was me believing very strongly that by circumventing the laws of economics and physics (you may be wondering why I said ‘physics’—here is the explanation: up until the moment that I looked at the receipt, I had a can of Schrodinger’s spray paint, in that I had simultaneously paid and not paid for it. I would have made a great physicist because I’m very good at explaining made-up sh*t.) and it occurred to me that I had just double-dipped into karma and maybe it would come back to haunt me in an unpleasant and costly way.

Anyway, I happened to be going by the hardware store in question the other day, so I decided to stop and pay for the spray paint:

Me: Hi there. A couple of weeks ago, I bought three cans of spray paint here, but I was only charged for two. I’d like to pay for the third one now.
Sales Clerk: That’s fine. Just take the third one.
Me: No, no—I GOT three but you only charged me for two. Is there a way I can pay for the third one that I DIDN’T pay for?
Sales Clerk: Take it up to the front. I’ll explain it to the cashier and she can figure it out.

Since I didn’t have the can with me, I went to the spray paint aisle but they were sold out of white so I took a can of black spray paint to the front:

Me: Hi there. A couple of weeks ago, I bought three cans of spray paint here, but I was only charged for two. I’d like to pay for the third one now.
Cashier (whispers): It’s okay, hun. You can just take it.
Me: NO, I want to pay for it. But it’s not the right colour—will that affect your inventory?
Cashier: What?
Me: I don’t have the receipt, sorry—is there another way you can get the right code?
Cashier:
Me: I don’t want THIS spray paint. I just want to pay for the one I got that you didn’t charge me for two weeks ago.
Cashier: Oh! Seriously? If it was me, I would have just kept it. No problem, here, just give it to me.
Me: But this isn’t the can I got! The one I got was white! Can I just give you the money for it?!
Cashier: Sigh. Give me a minute. I can grab the bar code off the shelf. (Leaves then comes back with tag.) OK, with tax, that comes to $11.29. Do you want a bag for the spray paint?
Me: This isn’t my spray paint.
Cashier (confused): Okay, have a nice day.

So I was finally able to restore balance in the universe, even though it was in an absurdly random, Monty Python-esque way. Or so I thought. Because two days ago, I was tidying up and saw a receipt sticking out of a bowl on one of the kitchen shelves—it was the original receipt for the spray paint. And it said 2@$9.99, just as I remembered. And further down, after the cleaning supplies and the belt I’d bought as a gift for Ken, there was a third charge. For $9.99. For the third can of spray paint. Which I had just paid for AGAIN. So now the universe owes me.

And on a lighter note:

This Facebook ad made me remember a recent conversation with Ken:

Ken: Hey, can you pass me one of those…those…tooth knives?
Me: You mean a ‘serrated knife’, such as one might use for steak?
Ken: Yeah, one of those.
Me: Okay, but you realize now that you can no longer make fun of me for referring to the hedge trimmer as ‘shrubbery scissors’, right?
Ken: Fair enough.

Getting Rusty

I’ve been feeling a little tired lately for a variety of reasons—I’m getting older, the days are getting shorter, but mostly because I ran out of iron pills. “So why don’t you buy more?” I hear you ask, and while you’d think that would be an easy solution, it’s apparently not, because I’ve gone to three drugstores in my area and none of them sell the iron I like. No, they’re NOT gummies, unlike all my other vitamins and supplements, but they do come in a soothing green and gold bottle from a brand that I get regular grocery store points with. But for some reason, all the iron is currently behind the counter, causing me to have conversations with pharmacists who are guarding it zealously, as if the conspiracy theorists are spreading around the rumour that sticking iron pills in a blender and then giving yourself an enema with them will cure you of Covid (it won’t, and please don’t tell people that you’re doing an iron cleanse because mydangblog told you to):

Me: Where’s all the iron?
Pharmacist: Back here with the narcotics.
Me: OK, weird. But I need some.
Pharmacist: Did your doctor prescribe it?
Me: No. You don’t need a prescription for iron.
Pharmacist: Well, did he tell you to take it?
Me: No! Can I just have some iron? Here’s the kind I normally take. (shows picture on my phone)
Pharmacist: Well, I don’t have that kind. Here, this is the same.

So that night, I took the new iron pill with my glucosamine, and only AFTER did I look at the bottle:

Me: Holy sh*t. I think I’ve made a dreadful error in judgement.
Ken: What’s wrong? Did you apply to that acting job at the Hallowe’en farm?
Me: No, I just took one of those new iron pills. My old ones were 28 milligrams each and this one is 300 milligrams! Am I going to rust?! Am I magnetic now? (googles ‘What happens if you take too much iron?’) Oh my god, it says here that taking more than 40 mg of iron a day can lead to organ failure, seizures and, death! I haven’t even retired yet!!

I went to bed that night terrified, and then I couldn’t sleep because I’d taken so much iron that I wasn’t tired. So to amuse myself, I surfed Facebook Marketplace and found these weird ads:

Ad that says We don't fish anymore

Of all the public announcements you could make, this is the strangest. Apparently Werner, at the age of 65, has become a vegetarian, or has given up being a pescatarian, or just wants to give the fish a chance, and felt the need to tell the world, as one does. He doesn’t look very happy about his decision, and I wonder if the “we” was really just his wife who was like “Werner. I hate fishing. We are no longer fisherfolk,” and Werner was like “But I love fishing,” and his wife was like “Not anymore you don’t.” Still, if we’re posting random angry proclamations on FB Marketplace, look for an ad of me looking super-pissed off with the caption “I JUST TOOK TOO MUCH IRON”. But I wish poor old Werner the best of luck in his new, non-fishing life.

Ad that says Free Bees

Hard pass. I don’t care if they’re free; in fact, how would you even SELL bees? Like a nickel a piece, or 5 bucks for a…(googles ‘What is a group of bees called?’ Swarm, Cluster, Bike, Ball, Colony—there are a LOT of names for bees)…bushel? But I don’t want bees—they’re sting-y little f*ckers and I’m sure they’re just as happy as I am that we have a long-distance relationship.

Ad that says Small Child Box

How small do you think children ARE? And is that a ladybug or a face with giant polka-dotted ears? See, now that I’ve said it, you can’t unsee it. Either way, I’m not interested in it even if it’s free because that box is NOT big enough to store a child, even a small child. Now, a bushel of bees might fit…

It’s All About The Attitude

Well, it’s been an exciting week at the mydangblog household. First, I got it into my head suddenly, and I mean VERY suddenly, that it would be an amazing idea if I did a live reading for my new short story collection in August. And if you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that like most things I do (e.g. the quilt), I went into it with a lot of determination but without a single clue about how it should be done. I messaged a couple of friends (thanks Susan and Cecilia!) and got some advice, but still ended up spamming all my friends, not once but twice, with Facebook invites. I really have no idea what I’m doing and whether or not it will work, but if you’d like to join me on Wednesday, August 11 at 7 pm Eastern Time, you can access the reading by either going to the Feasting Upon The Bones Live Reading Facebook page or join via this link even if you don’t have Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/108877348159254/live_videos/

I hope some of you will come, either to see me read some stories and drink wine or watch dead air and imagine me frantically trying to figure out how to get the live stream going whilst simultaneously drinking wine. Either way, there will be wine.

And I’ve been getting great feedback on the short story collection, so again, I’d super-appreciate if anyone could leave even a short review on Amazon or Goodreads or whatnot, or even just some stars. I know a couple of you have already and it totally made my day.

In other news, we took down the old side porch on our house last week because the columns were rotting and discovered that most of the old side porch structure was also rotting, so it was extremely fortunate that we’d embarked upon this particular reno project before one of us fell through the balcony. As Ken was dismantling the roof, he found a champagne cork sliced open with a penny stuck in it tucked next to one of the rafters:

Ken: What do you think this is for?
Me: Some kind of weird superstition? A sacrifice to Dionysus?
Ken: I’ve never heard of that. Let me google…champagne cork with—oh, it autofilled. Guess it’s a thing after all.
Me: Well, we have to keep it and put it back once we’re done. Ooh, we could pop another bottle and do it with a second champagne cork for double the luck!
Ken: And drink the champagne.
Me: Obviously drink the champagne, KEN.

Photo of a cork with a penny in it.

And in honour of our rotten porch, I present to you three other inanimate objects that have attitudes of their own, according to these ads:

Photo of a very nice bird house with the description Obnoxious bird house - make an offer

1) This birdhouse looks really cute and rustic but apparently appearances can be deceiving:

Me: Ooh, I love your birdhouse. Could I offer you twenty-five dollars for it?
Birdhouse: Twenty-five dollars?! F*ck off, lady.
Owner: I’m so sorry. My birdhouse is a bit of a dick.
Birdhouse: You can f*ck right off too, JANICE.
Me: What an obnoxious bird house.
Owner: Hence the ad.

Photo of a child's bicycle with the description Huffy bike

2) In the same vein, this little bike is adorable but…

Buyer: What a lovely little bike. And only ten dollars!
Bike: Hmph.
Buyer: What’s wrong?
Seller: Oh, don’t mind the bike. He’s in one of “his moods”, that’s all.
Bike: HMPH.
Buyer: Does he get like that a lot?
Seller: He’s just a little huffy because I wouldn’t take his training wheels off for the ad.
Bike: I don’t NEED THEM, STANLEY.
Seller: Yes, but they make you MORE MARKETABLE, BRIAN.
Bike: HMPH!

Photo of a sign that says "Please inform one of our staff if this room is in need of some attention."

3) And finally—I’ve seen warehouses with self-esteem issues but this bathroom is a bit of a drama queen:

Customer: Excuse me, but I think your bathroom needs some attention.
Staff person: Good lord, what’s it doing now?
Customer: It’s a little weepy. But when I asked what was wrong, it said, “Oh, nothing. Don’t worry about ME. Obviously I’m JUST FINE”.
Staff: Sigh. Yes, it can be quite passive-aggressive when it’s unhappy. Look, I hate to pry, but were you in there for a…(whispers) poo?
Customer: I—uh—well, yes. But it was just a small one.
Staff: That explains it. Time for the lavender air freshener. That usually does the trick.

Weekend Update

Well, Happy Easter Weekend to all of those who celebrate it and Happy Weekend to those who don’t. The mydangblog household doesn’t observe Easter particularly, but we do give each other chocolate according to pagan tradition, and chocolate is one of the few life’s pleasures left to us as we’re currently under yet another “lockdown that’s not really a lockdown”. As someone on the interweb succinctly put it: “I can go to Costco, but I can’t go to my barber. My barber can go to Costco but can’t give me a haircut. We can both be in Costco at the same time—maybe he can cut my hair in Costco.” People aren’t allowed to gather in groups of more than 5 people, but come Tuesday, classrooms will be full of 30 kids per room. Ultimately, I’m never sure if this is a pandemic or just a really bad Monty Python sketch.

At any rate, before I begin, I have three updates. First, an update on the quilt. I have, as of this day’s reckoning, cut 121 squares of denim with about 300 to go. I will be attempting to purchase a rotary cutter today on the advice of my many quilting friends (you never know how many you have until you tell people you’re making a quilt), if I can find a store that’s open.

Second, thanks to all of you, I did indeed win Spillwords Press Publication of the Month, and I am very thrilled and grateful to everyone who voted or tried to vote (that site is super-finicky) or even just clicked on it to read it because that counts too.

Third, and this ties into number 2, I’ve begun the sequel to The Seventh Devil. It’s called The Devil You Know, and now I have lots of names for the characters thanks to my promise to name them after anyone who voted for me.

And off we go on another foray into the strange world of Facebook Marketplace.

1) Drama: Free

You can just tell by the photo that Amanda is a very dramatic girl. It’s amazing to me that she isn’t charging more for her drama but maybe the lockdown is getting the better of her and she’s so bored she’s just willing to give it away. So I contacted her and asked about a sample:

Me: What kind of drama are you offering?
Amanda: Low level best friend drama, mid-range passive aggressive wife, and crazy ex-girlfriend.
Me: Can I try the crazy ex-girlfriend?
Amanda; I WILL SLASH YOUR TIRES, YOU BASTARD!!
Me: Wow, that IS intense. I think I’m good.
Amanda (sobbing): So that’s it? You’re just going to leave? WHY??!! I LOVE YOU!!
Me: Okay, have a good weekend.
Amanda: You too!

2) Bookshelf: It is issued.

It wasn’t so much the bookshelf in this ad but the description, which reads “Good bookshelf. We are moving. It is issued. Has a lot of place. It is useful.” So, these people are moving due to some kind of decree? Is there a dude whose job it is to randomly evict people with bookshelves, like, “I see you have a good, useful bookshelf. I must demand that you move immediately. Leave the bookshelf behind in this place. I have spoken.” I hope he doesn’t find out how many bookshelves I have—I have no intention of moving.

3) Self-portrait: 5 dollars

This is an excellent example of a post-modern charcoal sketch in the style of a young Matisse. Personally, I would title it “Artist Holding Boom Box”, but those could be boobs. And that’s the joy of art.

4) Custom Handmade Boat: $100

What a lovely, idyllic scene: A peaceful living room with birds merrily chirping in their cage, a puppy snoozing on his pillow, the sunlight spilling in through the cracks in the boat—wait, what? I’m guessing that the genius who handcrafted this boat has never actually been in one and is unaware that the key to building a seaworthy vessel is to ensure that the water STAYS ON THE OUTSIDE. Now, you may be thinking that the person meant a good bookshelf SHAPED like a boat, but the description below simply reiterates “Custom handmade boat”. This is the stuff for which relocation decrees are issued, my friends.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone—now I’m off to cut some denim.