12. September 2011
“What is the 'Otto' catalogue doing in my stroller and how did they get my address”? I asked myself the other day, strongly irritated upon entering my hallway. At this point in time, I was still unaware of the role that “Otto” would one day play in my life.
The catalogue was acurately welded in a plastic wrapping and weighed about three times as much as its Swedish counterpart, the Ikea catalogue. At first, I stood there in the hallway eyeing it suspiciously. I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was playing a joke on me, considering I had just written a column about shopping (fiascos) with child. Had “Otto” bribed gynocologists across Berlin to get to mothers with toddlers like me? Does a three person household automatically qualify you for a home catalogue's mailing list? My last theory revolved around a German Secret Housewife Service that was seeking to recruit me as a member.
When I had arrived upstairs, I curiously tore open the plastic wrapping and began to turn the pages. Five days later and 1109 pages in, I returned to my task. I joined the “Otto” – housewife club via telephone and ordered a bunch of stuff from the couch while my son was taking an afternoon nap. “Otto”'s mobile shop has certainly outgrown its antiquated image, offering, basically, everything: I ordered a pair of fur-lined leather gloves from the “Stylish & Feminine” section and a baker's boy cap from “Athletic & Cutting Edge”. And that's not all – I was amazed at the plethora of furniture from the “Home Affair Collection” - a serious threat for the Ikea monopoly that had previously dominated our appartment.
The strange thing is that even though I was fairly pleased by what I'd bought, I've cheated on my new friend Otto on several occasions since then. This desperate housewife can't get enough of frontline, Imaginarium, Impressionen and Emp. My dangerous liaisons are much slimmer than Otto, which doesn't mean that I'd spend any less time with them. When our son is tucked into bed at night and my boyfriend tucked infront of the TV, I've begun delving into glossy catalog universes. There is just so much to discover! For one thing, there are home appliances you never knew you needed until you own them. Some of these I found in my “Discovery” catalogue. Meanwhile, I'm the proud owner of a banana holder, an apple cutter, salad spinner pouches and sock clamps.
Thanks to Conley's, my credit card has not been maxed out so far, at least not as I write this text towards the end of August. I ordered a “Used- wash crinkle Jeans” at this overpriced mail order establishment, but so far, nothing's arrived and the lady at US customer services was as clueless as myself about their whereabouts. I'll probably send them back anyway if they ever do arrive. After all, it's free! And sure, I'm aware of the fact that mail order shopping is no long-term solution. But I try to deal with my new fad as lightly as possibly and hereby openly admit that neither Otto nor the sum of my catalogue-lovers can satisfy me on the long run. They just can't match up with a shopping stroll on Kuhdamm.
When my doorbell rang recently, I opened the door and found a spirited guy my age beaming back at me. “Did Otto send you?” I asked in awe, mustering his navy blue eyes. “Nope, I'm with Bofrost!” was his enthusiastic reply as he handed me a catalogue and a 15 euro coupon with a wink. Only my last question managed to knock him out of his stride: “Do you deliver Swedish cinamon rolls and Ikea hot dogs?”