For the past few years, I have often felt behind the times, in some respects, and that makes me sad, like today, when I was reminded by my mother, that I am not "in the know." She called me up to say, "Annie, did you hear? Tyler Perry is staging a live event of the Passion of the Christ … in New Orleans."
I blinked several times and was very confused. I had to look it up. Apparently, it's true. My mom, up in Ohio, knows more about New Orleans than I do. Tyler Perry is coming, you guys. It's a thing that is happening, I read all about it, and yet I am still confused. But long story shor, my finger is not on the pulse anymore. I am woefully behind on just about everything, as all I pretty much do is work. Although I do have the 411 on anything kitchen or food-related. I could tell you about the shelf-life of watercress, for example. Or how to glue together a gash on your finger that's spurting blood, and wrap electrical tape around it, in order to make it through a Saturday-night dinner service. That I can talk about.
And then there are things that I've just never given much thought to. Such as several weeks ago, I had friends in town who happen to be much more, shall we say, "girly" than I. They arrived equipped with bags full of travel-sized makeup and hair products, and it was all still much more substantial than all the beauty materials that I have in my whole house. My makeup routine consists of eye-liner, perhaps shadow, if I have an extra 5 seconds, and mascara. I also own bright magenta lipstick for special occasions, which is hardly ever. That's it. So when my friend whipped something out of her bag called an "illuminator", the nerd inside of me was like, "that sounds cool, what's an 'illuminator'? Is it something that the lady Jedi use?"
My friend just shook her head at me and said, "haven't you ever used foundation? Concealer?"
"Nope. Never needed the stuff."
"I hate you."
"Okay, but seriously, what's an illuminator?"
And then I was shown the light, so to speak, of exactly what an illuminator can do for your cheekbones. It's really quite amazing, but at the end of the day, I'm not going to go to the store, actually search out and buy the stuff. My friend knew this, so she said, "just subscribe to Birchbox, it's only 10 bucks a month, and they'll send you samples of things you never knew you needed. It's really cool."
Then my other friend said, "No, sign up for Ipsy instead, they have cooler products."
And thus I was introduced to the phenomena known as "subscription boxes."
Now, I realize that this sort of thing has been around for years and years, but like I said, I'm behind on these things, so when I started looking around the internet for subscription boxes such as Birchbox or Ipsy, my mind about exploded. There is a box for everything. For the low price of such and such a month, you can have a totally random thing delivered right to your door! Cool, right?
For example, do you not know a thing about makeup, like me? Do you want to try a few things? There's a box for that (several, actually). Don't know what to make for dinner? Want to have recipes, refrigerated and portioned fresh produce, and meats delivered to your doorstep? There's a box for that. Do you love the country of Ireland with all your heart? And would really dig handmade crafts from the Emerald Isle every month? Yes, there is actually a box for that.
Boxes just speak to me on a certain level. For one, I don't have a whole lot of free time, so getting things like makeup in the mail sounds a lot better than going to the store for it. Also, even though you're technically paying for it, it's kind of like getting a present from the post-man every month. And who doesn't like presents? Life is short, you should totally have someone send you presents. It's the little things.
Here are a few of the "boxes" that I found compelling. Perhaps not enough to actually buy them, but compelling nonetheless.
Blue Apron – Recipes and their ingredients sent to your door. Portioned. Refrigerated. As a cook, this one fascinates me. I mean, I could never actually buy it, but I support it. I'm not going to turn my nose up at it, especially if it gets people in their kitchens, cooking and trying new dishes and ingredients. I was mesmerized as I perused their website. One of the things that people tell me when they find out I'm a cook is, "oh, I can't even chop an onion." It's like telling an artist that you can't even draw a stick-figure. It's supposed to be a compliment, but I always think, "YES YOU CAN, YOU JUST NEVER BOTHERED TO LEARN. And get yourself a sharp knife, for heaven's sake." Anyway. These Blue Apron people will tell you everything you need to know to follow a recipe, including chopping an onion. You will learn how to cook. It's kind of like Sesame Street for potential foodies. And I just rolled my eyes at myself for typing the word "foodie".
Birchbox – I'm pretty sure this is the most popular box of the makeup variety. It could even be the most popular box of all time. They send you samples of beauty products, determined from a profile you create on their website. I definitely signed up for this one and actually received my first box. Oh my god, It was like Christmas morning. There was perfect bright red lipstick inside, which was somehow the exact same shade as my hair. I mean, are these people psychic? There was also mascara, which was so amazing I may have Spotified "Betty Davis Eyes" and danced around my office. But then there was a product called a "scalp exfoliator"? Like, an extra thing you put on your hair in between shampoo and conditioner? What is this nonsense? Nope. Not good for people with bright red hair, because all that red will just wash right down the drain. You win some, you lose some, with life and with boxes.
Wantable – They have multiple types of boxes to choose from. "Style, fitness, makeup, accessories, intimates." I have my eye on this one, as you could potentially have a box of bras sent to you every month. And that has to be the best job in the world. To pick out lingerie for people on the internet.
But all this has me thinking, is New Orleans itself, blessed with a box? If not, I certainly think it should be.
I'm thinking, off the top of my head, for a spring month – a package – lovingly wrapped in Times-Picayune newspaper, because crawfish season – a bag of crab boil, a playlist from local musicians featured at Jazz Fest, a recipe for authentic crawfish bread, a tiny bottle of Peychaud's Bitters for homemade Sazeracs an a small artist's print of a foggy French Quarter scene. It could be cool for someone far away who's missing the New Orleans touches, that we, as residents, sometimes take for granted. Yeah, we could definitely fill a good box.