The ToB, presented by Field Notes, is here!

It's the 2023 Tournament of Books, presented by Field Notes! And it's finals week! Dig in!



United we stand. In line. At the cash register… If there’s one issue Americans can rally around, it’s consumption. We all want stuff. Lots of stuff. As much as our wallets and purses will allow, and usually more.

I saw it. In a store. Or in an ad. Maybe on an infomercial. Or in a magazine. Like Time or or 20/20. Or for that matter, on a lifestyle or makeover show. Though I might have seen it while driving around. I saw it in my neighbor’s house. I saw it among the plethora of offers and catalogs conveniently delivered direct to my mailbox Monday through Saturday, or to my email inbox Monday through Sunday. Or on QVC, in triple XL, 14-carat gold and/or with a Certificate of Authentication. I caught it being touted by a Z-list celebrity on HSN. I saw it. But then again, I was looking for it.

I want it. I want it because it’s the latest thing. The first, or, quite possibly, the last of its kind. I want it because it’s so neo-retro-alt-techno-(anti)chic. And because I was told to. Am expected to. Because I get the feeling that I’m not supposed to. That it’s taboo. My wanting it flows from my unwavering belief in its magnificently nuanced slogan. I want it because I can’t say no. Because it’s a rational/emotional/logical/impulsive thing that I can’t explain. Because you said you wanted it. Because I sense that you want it and that you’re not telling me that you want it so you can get it first, but that’s not going to happen because I already want it. Bad. I want it because I’m younger than I look. Or older than you think. Or than the law requires. Or than is age-appropriate. Or demographically predisposed. I want it because it’s exotic. Because it’s commonplace. And it’s good for the economy. It creates jobs. Somewhere. I want it because I saw it.

I like being ahead of the curve almost as much as I enjoy being on the leading edge—unless I’m in the mood to go with the flow. I’m going to get it. Because it feels right. Because I just can’t wait and have waited long enough. Because it will make my life easier, richer, fuller, funner, cooler, hotter, more comfortable, more je ne sais quoi, more normal. Because I can afford it. Possibly in cash, quite plausibly on credit, unquestionably by renting to own. Plus, I have a coupon. Good for a rebate. Along with bonus frequent flier miles. I’m going to get it because interest rates are low. Or about to go up. But also because it fits my lifestyle. And renders my old one passé. To some greater or lesser extent. I’m going to get it soon, too. Because it’s available for a limited time only. Not to mention, I like being ahead of the curve almost as much as I enjoy being on the leading edge—unless I’m in the mood to go with the flow. And it’s becoming very clear to me that I must have it. Require it. Like air. But better than air because it’s not free, readily available and everywhere. I’m going to get it because, hey, I work hard goddammit and I deserve it and, Jesus Jumping Christ, there’s not a reason in the world to deny myself. But mostly, I’m going to get it because life is too short. Though, should I be prevented from getting it, I just might kill myself.

I bought it!

I own it. Fuck, yeah! And I’m delighted. Psyched. Ecstatic. Trippin’. Fulfilled. Relieved. One lucky son of a bitch. A pig in shit. I own it and it suits me. Makes me stand out. Helps me fit in. Compliments me, complements me, completes me. To the extent that I don’t know how I lived without it. Or why. Or if I could again. Or how anyone does. Or why. Or could. Even the poor North Koreans. I own it and I’m lovin’ it. ‘Cause you’re staring at it. What’s more, now that I own it I can’t put it down or stop looking at it or talking about it or quite get over it. Nor will I let you touch it. I! Own! It! And what used to require two calories/minutes/steps to accomplish now takes merely one. I own it and it’s shinier. Slicker. Thinner. Bigger. Giggier. Jiggier. It’s fizzy. Sizzling. Dizzying. Busying. It’s infinitely more intuitive. Rigorously edgier. Discreetly flashier. I own it. It’s mine. In your face. Get your own.

I’m tired of it. Bored with it. Disenchanted with it. Done with it. Over it. And why not? It’s old. Dated. Not all it was cracked up to be. Like everyone else’s. Not like they said. Not like you said. Not like I told myself it would be. It sticks. It’s jammed. It’s confusing. It’s scratched. Nicked. Marred. Pilling. Flaking. Tinny. Cheap. Cheesy. Fatty. It’s broken. Lame. Seen better days. Been recalled. Run its course. Not all that. Just because, OK? Period. End of story. Get off my back.

Oooh! What’s that?

Bob Woodiwiss is a humor columnist for Cincinnati Magazine and Principal/Director of Undirected Thinking at Bob, the Agency. His second book, The Serfitt & Cloye Gift Catalog: Just Enough of Too Much, is a sendup of upscale catalogs. More by Bob Woodiwiss