Free gifts? Imagine that!

I can’t help it. I read from a grammarian’s perspective.

More than 45 years after I put together nouns and consonants to read the word Donut, I digress almost every time. Knowing what I now know, it should have said Doughnut. After all, those rings began as …. dough.

These days, the phrase Free Gift really bothers me.

I shop for deals just like the next person. I totally get a thrill when my purchase yields a bonus, such as the opportunity to receive something else for nothing or the chance to buy something additional at a discount. In the retail world, those bonuses are known as GWPs (gift with purchase) and PWPs (purchase with purchase).

But free gift?

Since when is a gift not free?

Sure, there are certain people in our lives who expect some return on their gift. And there are those of us who feel like recompense is necessary upon receiving something. But when a retailer offers a free gift, what does it really mean?

For those of us with some marketing background, such ridiculous language is evidence that the retailer thought it best to write their own marketing copy. Or, they went with the lowest-bidding marketing firm. Either way, it was a terrible idea.

I had the misfortune of a tight friendship with an occasional Estée Lauder pitch-woman back in the day. Sure, she was nice and I love her dearly. But damn her for teaching me the GWP and PWP meanings, which haunt me to this day.

Coincidentally, a quick check of the latest Estée Lauder advertisements reveal an apparent lowering of its marketing bar with a high jump onto the free gift bandwagon. Never mind that the company also offers free samples, and free shipping and returns — true retail benefits.

What’s next in the marketing world of vernacular tomfoolery?

Added bonuses? Free trials?

But, wait! If you call within the next 10 minutes of this (randomly broadcast) commercial, you’ll learn that we’ve already bought into such double-edged marketing shenanigans.

If ever we deserve a free gift, it is now. But hurry. Such offers are only available for a limited time.

The end of the world is near! (Thanks to social media.)

The first time I heard the end of the world attributed to social media, was from a grouchy old man in a barbershop. He was at least in his seventies and bragged about his track record of never answering his rarely charged flip-phone.

I mistakenly – and respectfully – dismissed his claims. But, golly gee, it turns out the surly senior was quite the soothsayer.

And it’s not because of the hordes of people who have suddenly gained courage behind the safety of their keyboards. Neither is it the unruly political discourse over the mass media’s issue du jour. Not even the slew of unending food photos (of which I’m guilty of posting) has contributed to the earth’s doom and gloom to the level of the real culprit.

It’s T.M.I. people. (That stands for too much information for that handful of people who still speak an actual language.)

Just during the past week alone, my social media timelines have announced patients of high blood pressure, heart stents, tonsils and stomach issues that were due to alleged food poisoning at the local Ground Round.

But that’s not all.

I’ve been subjected to countless photos of middle-aged people trying to recapture the bygone popularity of their high school years. Of course, they’ve had plenty of surgeries since the days of honest-to-goodness genetics and dietetic choices. And they now have the available credit for cheap blingy sandals and those tiny trite stick-ons upon their freshly pedicured toes.

None of us are fooled. We know you’re having hot spells … and that you’ve just gone through your most recent divorce. Why try to hide it? There are more than a few of us who are right there with you at the free blood pressure machine at the drug store. The whole hot mess is funny — and sad, at the same time.

I understand the need to tell one’s story. After all, I’ve shared many love letters to my wife, recipes from long-gone ancestors and complaint letters about my children being forced to sell for the school PTA.

But I’ve never felt compelled to mention that I had ‘bubble gut’ in the process. Neither have I caved and revealed the truth about the boil on my inner thigh. For the record, I’m not claiming any such intestinal or dermal disorder now, but would it bother you if I did?

Based on what I’ve witnessed on social media, I just don’t think most people would be affected.

So, you made your mom’s meatloaf and took a picture. Fantastic. But why did you feel obliged to mention that your dog left two piles on your doorstep after inhaling the leftovers?

Now, about your keyboard courage and your politics…

How has that worked out for you? Have you convinced anyone from the other side? And, would you say that in person? Let’s be honest here, folks … as honest as your bad day at work or your 20th low-light selfie in three days.

While we’re at it if I were to see you in person and ask about you, would you really tell me about the migraines that leave you with just enough energy to update your social media status? Would you really have the nerve to detail your most recent root canal? Or the flesh-eating bacteria that attacked your left elbow after a weekend trip to the beach?

Turns out that old man was right. He came from an era when people didn’t share information that involves the bowels of any mammal … or the details of one’s stomach virus.

We are so doomed.

And, for the record, I’m in agreement with one all-to-common social media dispatch: I’m also sick of you being sick. Take a pill already. Go outside and get your steps in, for crying out loud.

Lord, take me home. Please.