It’s not that I’m a stranger to subscriptions. I started getting magazine subscriptions when I was a teen and began receiving them for Christmas presents when our family finances were impacted by my father’s illness. I chose astronomy and science fiction magazines. My parents didn’t subscribe to magazines much, except for Reader’s Digest and their condensed books.
I also dabbled in record subscriptions, back in the day when they sent actual vinyl records that had every chance of arriving with scratches and warps. (I don’t know if music subscriptions went to tapes, 8-tracks, CDs, or downloads after that. I do have a couple of subscriptions on Patreon and at least one of them supplies me with music every month, but otherwise, I get all my music via the internet. Not that I download much. I already have nearly 670 albums stored on my music app (formerly called iTunes). But I digress.)
Later on, once I was married, I found a pet store in town that offered a “Fish of the Month” club. (For some unknown reason, we referred to it as “Fish ala Month,” although they weren’t, of course, edible. Another digression.) Dan had a fish tank at the time and enjoyed going to the store every month to see what new species of fish was on offer that month. I kept up the subscription until the pet store went out of business. This was back in the days when there were still locally owned pet shops.
Since that time, the idea of subscriptions has blossomed. You can now get blossoms that arrive every month and can be given as gifts. Not just flowers, either. I once gave my therapist a small succulent as a gift and have ever after been pursued to upgrade to a succulent subscription.
Nor are plants the only subscriptions on offer. You can get quarterly subscriptions to goods from Ireland, including food, snacks, and jewelry. You can subscribe to puzzles, either jigsaws or more elaborate ones that require solving a mystery. Other “surprise” subscriptions where you don’t know what you’re getting are for children’s toys (or dog toys), foods from different regions of the country, rare coffees, discount wines, Asian snacks, cocktail mixers (and liquor, if you choose that option), cheese of the month or charcuterie kits (including vegan and gluten-free), cookie dough, pasta, spices or hot sauces, candy, tea, beauty items or perfumes, detox products, vacation souvenirs, earrings or necklaces, socks-of-the-month, replicas of historical documents, dried flower arrangements, candles, and pet foods and supplies.
Some of the subscriptions available leave me befuddled. One is underwear. I buy new bras and panties when my old ones are no longer serviceable. But I don’t subscribe. I go to Jockey, Fruit of the Loom, or another source and order what I need. I can’t imagine avidly anticipating the arrival of three new panties or bra-and-panties sets every month. (Besides, I never wear matching bras and panties. Every victim of a serial killer you see on TV shows is wearing matching lacy undergarments. I figure I’m a lot safer if I were a purple-polka-dot bra and simple green panties. But I digress some more.)
Other subscriptions I don’t understand are oysters-of-the-month (ick!) and monthly sex toys and books (although if they’re delivered in plain brown wrappers, they will spare you embarrassment and make a visit to the local sex shop unnecessary).
The really strange subscription I came across during my research for this post was playable musical postcards, something previously unimaginable to me. Evidently, the postcards from different lands are made of vinyl and can be played on a turntable. (There is an option to receive only a postcard and an online download of a song if you don’t possess a turntable.) The tunes are from indie artists, so you don’t need to worry about getting Mariah Carey in your December mail.
Will I get another subscription to something-or-other? I think not. I already have subscriptions to TV streaming channels. I have Patreon subscriptions to support my friends’ art. I have subscriptions to Archaeology and Smithsonian magazines (offline versions) for my husband. I subscribe to the New York Times crossword puzzles. I probably have a few other subscriptions that I’ve forgotten about and ought to cancel.
But I am tempted by the solve-a-mystery and cheese-of-the-month subscription, though only if I can specify cheeses that don’t advertise the fact that they’re made of mold. I figure that anything the postal workers can smell is a bad idea, even if it’s only once a month.