I used to have a cat named Kyle. He died in 2014. He and his sister, Selina, were the first real pets I ever had. Having lived in apartments with strict "No Pets" policies all my life, I could never enjoy the company of a real pet. I had to settle for lower-tier pets, like fish and turtles -- animals that are more like living home accessories than cuddly best friends. It's like if your ottoman could look at you.
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Selina was always kind of a dick, but Kyle was as loyal and affectionate as any dog I've met. It was through him that I finally understood what people meant when they said their pets were members of their family. He was everything I always heard a great pet could be. I was devastated when he passed away.
I made the decision to have him cremated. As the veterinary assistant was handing me a pamphlet for urns, all I could think about was giving Kyle a place for eternal rest that honored every second of happiness and comfort he provided me every day of his life.
"A shoe box it is!" I thought as I looked over the prices. I loved Kyle, but he was a cat, not a pharaoh. The design philosophy of every urn in the pamphlet was "The Taj Mahal, but for dead cats." Urn manufacturers think I'm going to stuff a dead cat into a priceless vase dating back to the Ming Dynasty and put it on the shelf I got from IKEA. If these people were in charge of the whole dead cat process, they'd charge me $10,000 to cremate my cat in premium heat hand-crafted by the legendary fire artisans of Borneo. Fuck them forever.
So on May 9, 2014, I tearfully logged on to Amazon.com to buy an urn for my dead cat. I didn't know if Amazon sold urns. I just trusted that they did. They sell a 55 gallon barrel of sex lube, I guess so that you can plunge yourself into another person's orifices the way an Olympic diver breaks through the surface of the water with hardly a splash. If they have drums of sex jelly, they have urns for dead cats. The logic is sound.
Ever since then, Amazon has been recommending that I buy more urns for dead cats that I do not have. It began less than a month after I bought the urn. Amazon sent me an email filled with products I might be interested in buying, one of which was the same urn I had already bought. Days later, I visited Amazon and was again offered the opportunity to buy an urn for a dead cat, this time on the site's Buy It Again suggestion bar. They were slick about it in the early days. They'd suggest it casually, as an aside. The suggestion would be wedged between a couple of video game recommendations. Amazon's recommendations algorithm is a brilliant sociopath, in that way. It sandwiched something I really hope I don't have another need for anytime soon between two things I want right now. It knows not to come on too strong at first. It lulls you into susceptibility and then unleashes the nightmare.
If Adblock is looking for real-life horror stories of internet ads gone wrong to feature in a commercial, might I suggest my own? The recommendation started following me around the internet. Thanks to the banal creepiness of targeted internet advertising, banners on every website I visited were telling me that a substantial portion of my yearly income needed to be invested in urns for dead cats, as if their resale value was going to skyrocket in a few years. Amazon wasn't letting me escape the memory of my dead pet. This made my daily discussions on CatForum.com much more emotionally taxing than they already were.
The recommendations have not stopped. Once a month, Amazon's algorithm scours my extensive history of purchases in search of items I may want to buy again, and every single time, it thinks it's just being a good friend as it tosses the same cat urn into the email. I have bought so much stuff from Amazon -- literally hundreds of different items, ranging from clothing to books to bathroom and office supplies to food and electronics. And yet there's only one category of item which Amazon's algorithm suggests I buy as regularly as toilet paper and milk, and that's urns for dead cats.
None of this should bother me, but it does, because it raises questions about what Amazon thinks about me.
How many dead cats does Amazon think I have? Five? Twelve? More than twelve?! Amazon must think you can't swing a cat without hitting a dead cat in my apartment. Oh, and the one you swung? It's dead now. Add it to the pile. I'm sad all the time, because I can't eat ice cream, because it's always out on the counter melting, because my freezer is stuffed with dead cats. I'll clear them all out someday, but you know how it is with dead cats -- clear out a batch of bloated feline corpses, and another one pops up. My new Roomba slammed itself into a wall at 65 mph after it got a peek at the mass grave of cats I brought it home to.
Maybe I'm a niche market? There can't be many other people buying up Amazon's stock of cat urns. I've always assumed the Amazon warehouse was a Wonka factory of whimsy and magic that stands atop a dark cobwebbed dungeon where they keep all of the weird stuff. When I bought my urn, some Amazon serf awoke in a panic, head launching off the rubber infant circumcision trainer he uses as a pillow, when a red flashing light and a siren went off signaling that some classless asshole had just bought an urn for a cat over the internet, and probably put it in the same shopping cart as a case of Surge soda and a T-shirt of Kim Kardashian as the head of a human centipede.
This man, Amazon's overseer of urns for pets, finally had a purpose. He wrapped mine up and sent it off in record time. But just as quickly as it happened, it was over. He was back to bludgeoning rats for lunch. He's been trying to get me to buy urns ever since, so that he can sneak in a note that says "SEND HELP!" written in rat blood.
Why would Amazon think these things of me? I have my theories. The most rational is that they believe my apartment on the receiving end of a pan-dimensional pneumatic tube that fires dead cats across the expanse of space and time into my living room. Again, the most rational. The theories really take a plunge into improbability from there.
Amazon, I'm speaking directly to you right now:
The constant suggestion that I buy yet another urn for a dead cat is a depressing reminder of the cat I lost and of the mortality of the cat I have now. And it's just weird. So I beg you, please stop recommending that I buy urns for dead cats. Also, Surge. I bought a case of Surge soda when it was relaunched, and you guys won't shut up about it. I'd really like to not be reminded of that.
Check out the very weirdest that Amazon has to offer in The 10 Most Absurdly Expensive Products on Amazon.com and 8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews.
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