Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Tournament Gift

Two days ago, M woke me up in the middle of the night:


Me: "Wha-huh?"

M: "We can't keep staying here in this bed!"

Me: (Starting to take offense because we are in MY bed.) "What are you talking about?"

M: "We can't keep paying to stay in this bed. At $7 a night."

Me: "Um, where do you think we are?"

M: "Your parents' house?"

Obviously he was dreaming, but the combination of those thoughts is HI-larious to me. What scenario would necessitate a lengthy stay at my parents' house that would also cause us to pay the equivalent of half a breakfast per day? M doesn't remember the scenario, or the fact that he was genuinely worried about our future bed placement. I think it has something to do with the impending move-in-together date and our increasingly intense apartment search.

Luckily, both of us know exactly what we want in a place to live in sin. We are very picky, in exactly the same way. Which is great for us, not so great for our quest for the perfect place. Also, we don't have any money. Which makes apartment hunting a little harder.

When we see potential apartments, they always ask if we have pets. To which M always responds, "Well, I want a dog but I've been told this is not happening anytime soon." He thinks this is HI-larious - in the same way I thought his crazy dream about us daily renting a bed was. The truth is that we both want a dog, but he thinks that since I have less work, that I will be able to just take care of it. And this is not the kind of dog situation I want. Plus, I know how I am with change, (not good in case you're wondering - picture a crazy person, give them some caffeine and show them a sad movie and you have an idea of "me plus change") and moving in together on top of moving in general and all of the other potential new that I might have if I ever get hired to be something cool does not bode well for a new dog. Or M.

I did, however promise one thing as a gift for our anniversary this year. We have been planning the big move for a while and have finally gotten our leases on the same cycle so we can move in without any subleasing or breaking leases or any other lease trouble. With this idea on the horizon, for our three year anniversary, part of my gift to M was to renew my Sports Illustrated subscription that I had let lapse for our new address, whatever it may be.

This is the first year in almost ten years that I have not had my SI for March Madness. This means I am sans paper bracket. I know there are like 47 million online brackets you can fill out, or print out or bet against. Whatever. I want my glossy-page SI bracket that I fill out in gel ink with pretty font. As I am not a gambling type by nature, and as I started reading SI before I realized that betting was involved with the NCAA tournament, I have always done with my bracket what I originally believed you are supposed to do: I fill it out as it happens, recording the results in permanent pen. I do NOT predict on paper. You might be shaking your head at me right now, and that's OK. I am fine with my gambling naivete. I still fill out my bracket the same way. This is also why I do not participate in fantasy sports. I do not enjoy having to root for a team I don't like just because it gets me points, or even money. I want to be a fan for the teams and the players whom I want to win, and fantasy just messes it all up for me. You could say that I am a pure fan. Or a puritan fan. Or a pain in the ass.

Anyway, even with all my fan loyalties and my long-term relationship with SI, I cancelled my subscription earlier this year. Actually, it was cancelled for me. As example number 642 of why I hate the USPS, they did not deliver my magazines for a full two months. I called so many times to complain that I now have the best USPS supervisor on speed dial. She eventually fixed this problem, (at least until December's Bon Appétit went missing,) but since two months' worth of SI magazines came back to the magazine, they figured I went delinquent on them and cancelled my subscription. This is when the renewal offers started coming through the mail. (THESE get through. The actual magazines, not so much.) And I realized that I had been paying exactly $67 MORE than a first-time subscriber. Come on, SI, ten years?! You can't cut a sports fan a break?

I know that magazines have to hook new readers in, especially as more content moves to the Internet. But there has to be some incentive to long-term subscribers as well, or magazines will lose their majority readership every year. I don't have a clear way to fix this, but something along the lines of discounts to partner businesses or free special issues twice a year. Even access to online video or streaming coverage of games for customers who have been with the program for at least two years. Doesn't this make more sense? Maybe most people sign up and let their renewals happen automatically. At least with Bon Appétit, the difference between initial and renewed subscriptions is only $4. But for SI, I would rather cancel each year, miss a couple of months and sign up anew to save that $67 a year.

So when my subscription was cancelled, this became the new plan. And moving to a new address seemed the perfect target date to re-establish my relationship with SI. (And M.) M used to have a subscription with them as well, but cancelled for similar reasons. Our new subscription is like I am taking care of our preferred sports publication the same way M wants me to take care of a dog. It's like a little compromise. With brackets.

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