Excessive consumerism is increasingly present in contemporary society and has pervaded virtually every demographic. Every week new construction sites for future chain restaurants, lavish condominiums, and shopping centers clutter the landscape and threaten any feeling of serenity I could ever expect to experience in a very busy South Jersey suburb. I drive by one such site on an almost daily basis- the former Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Choosing luxury housing over equine life saddens me, but that does nothing to change the fact that some visionary developer is cashing in handsomely on the million-dollar condos that will take its place. I’m half-inclined to stage a public protest complete with large signs affixed atop giant sticks reading, “Horses not houses.”
Despite this appreciation for equine life and resistance to economic progress in the form of mega real estate, I’ve done my part to support our nation’s economy and the growing industry of service-oriented jobs too. Last weekend, I placed a call to The Cheesecake Factory for curbside pickup to order their namesake dessert. My rationale for patronizing one of possibly nearly eight dozen chain restaurants all within a short driving distance from my home, was the excessive summer heat. I crave desserts; I simply can’t live without dessert. All my attempts at trying to suppress this obsession fail miserably. I’ve set a limit on baking no more than twice a week. During the summer months, baking becomes a miserable endeavor, so I solve the problem rather effortlessly with a brief vow that I will order out dessert “just this once.”
Twenty minutes and negative $50 later, after navigating through the hordes of people waiting for a table and managing to snag the only available curbside parking spot left, I receive a lesson in Marketing 101 that my college major of psychology could not have provided. The employee, happily clad in obligatory restaurant attire, indicated that the cheesecake would not actually be ready to eat for about 2 hours. Now, I ordered a half sheet of Dutch apple and a half sheet of white chocolate caramel latte, so I have no idea if this was a complicating and precipitating factor and actually warranted these instructions, but the employee clearly conveyed that the cheesecake would not be ready for 2 hours because, get this, they are “deeply chilled.”
Deeply chilled, I quickly realized, was the politically correct term for the word formerly known as frozen. No one really wants to think that their (husband’s) hard-earned income is being spent on frozen cow byproducts, hence the need for the more eloquent description-deeply chilled. If the employee would have used the word frozen, I have no idea if my gustatory experience would have been any less enjoyable and mouth-watering, but I appreciated her attempt at creating an artificial psychological divide for me between the contents of what I consumed and my experience of it, even more so since I’m an on-again, off-again vegan.
It’s unlikely I will patronize The Cheesecake Factory any time soon, partly because of my renewed need to curb my spending (Think: Oprah’s Debt Diet) and partly because any more than one piece of their cheesecake, and I risk being comatose for life. I ate a piece for breakfast for three consecutive days after my initial taste-testing of both varieties on the day of my purchase. Then, I let my metrosexual, yet dessert-isn’t-masculine husband eat the rest.