Friday, April 21, 2017

Four-letter Words: B

Today's word is:

 Best is an adjective, the top-level in the hierarchy good, better, best.

When I was a child I spent many hours lying on the floor, propped on an elbow, with a Sears, Roebuck catalog opened in front of me.  This was the sort of entertainment available to young people of a certain stratum and in a certain time.  No smart phones, no television,  A different world.  But not an unpleasant world.  Wish Book, we called it.

Sears, in its attempt to be all things to all people, offered products of almost every sort and in a wide range of price availability.  For instance, a page might feature a certain item say, electric iron.  Mom certainly needs a replacement for the flatiron she heats on the wood-burning kitchen range now that we have electrical outlets in nearly every room in the house!

Sears has the answer:  A "good" iron, 94 cents; a "better" iron for $1.94; the "best" iron, $2.99.  But even Sears jumped the shark on occasion, for, What's this?  One more "premium" choice at $3.88.
This, of course, begs the question, "When is best not the best?"  Perhaps when someone else makes it?

You get the idea.  Everyone wants the "best."  But in the event the budget will not stretch that far, even our entry-level product is "good."

Our language has developed to cover exigencies when the "best" is not in the cards.  We might say we are "settling" as in fitting our means, yet not keeping up with the Joneses.

There are some things for which second-best is not an option, though.  These would be things not obtainable at retail.  For example, don't settle for second-best when choosing your mate.  Don't settle for less-than-your-best in the performance of a task.


Vee said...

There was so much psychology behind this kind of advertising. "Good" bed sheets would suffice because no one saw them. But an iron that was just good might hurt one's reputation as a stellar housewife. House-wifing has taken it's place in history along with good, better, best, and premium designations. Now the same marketing goal is accomplish using model names and numbers. (Valid point related to best and premium.)

Secondary Roads said...

This posts exhibits the most unique reasoning one is apt to find online.

vanilla said...

Vee, it is imperative in a consumer based society that envy be fueled generously. More than enough useful stuff, must have more and better stuff. It's how the world works. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Chuck, thank you. I think.