It’s All my Fault!

Returns From Amazonia

By Duane Scott Cerny

Online shopping is now as ubiquitous as apple pie. Unfortunately, most shipping services seem to think you ordered the apple crumble.

Disastrous deliveries are an unfortunate part of internet convenience, yet online merchants still encourage you to leave purchase reviews, hoping your unlikely positive comments might facilitate sales to those disappointed in the future. Perhaps this thinking comes from the same business school that invented unpaid interns.

“IT’S ALL MY FAULT.” Photo courtesy of Duane Scott Cerny.

A similar mindset is used by brick-and-mortar retailers that misguidedly force you to use self-check-out lanes without any compensation whatsoever. A ten-foot-long receipt offering coupons for questionable depilatory creams, spotty acne remedies and off-brand baby wipes is not an incentive to buy more—it’s plan B should you run out of toilet paper.

Though Yelp is the sound a dog makes when you step on its tail, the site makes for a juicy read should you fall down the rabbit hole of those scathing one-star reviews. Telenovelas can’t hold a two-ended candle to the spontaneous combustion of flammable Yelp reviews. I pray for TikTok dramatizations of same.

Assuredly the internet is the greatest innovation of the 21st century for mass complaining. Regardless of your platform, the world is your bitter stage to gripe and grouse and bitch about whatever/whoever you dislike. Or as lyricist Fred Ebb famously penned, “So—life is disappointing? Forget it!”

Recently I was reading reviews of my books, as I often find myself in need of validation and/or abuse, the internet being an excellent provider of both. It was here I stumbled upon a book review from France (written in French) and immediately turned to Google Translate. This is the reader’s comment:

“I can’t imagine going to bed on a cold night without this. I’ve used several bed warmers over the years and this one works well. If only it was a little longer. I measure 165 cm and do not warm up the areas of the head and feet.”
-Anonymously Frigid French Person

Okay. Where do I start? “A bed warmer… works well” is not exactly the blurb you want to see on the cover of your book, unless you’re the scandalous author of Fifty Shades of Window Coverings. And I’m not touching the flaccid editorial: “If only it was a little longer.” I will not suffer such public emasculation by the centimeter.

I began digging deeper into the internetta. Surely, I cannot be alone in the realm of odd reviews from Amazonia. Let me share a few with you…

The Afterlife Ouija Board: “Over the years I’ve ordered many Ouija boards and I consider myself an expert in both the overuse of vowels and clever interior design. In fact, I have covered the walls of my guest bath in Ouija boards, and I can assure you, no one stays in there long before moving a solid planchette. However, I am returning this item due to its thin veneer, echoing my ex-wife’s review of my role in our marriage.”
—Dispirited in St. Louis

Miracle Chef Mixer: “While live streaming the opening of the mixer’s packing box to my Facebook appliance group of nearly 50 followers, I was immediately impressed by the amount of Styrofoam, bubble wrap and popcorn supplied. I now have everything I need for my next Halloween costume, except the whip. This is ironic as the mixer’s ten-speed settings range only from Frappe to Wood Chipper. Who do these people think I am, Julia Childless?”
—Frothing in Florida

Man’s Best Friend Robotic Dog: “It seemed the perfect pet: no vet bills, no feeding, no clean-up, yet it was not. On our very first visit to the doggy park, I found my robotic dog “Buster” getting busted every which way but mechanical. By the time I reprogrammed him to combat the over-amorous intentions of too many canines to count, Buster’s metal leg fell off, a hungry Pug running off with it down 23rd. Now I worry whether a robotic dog can be impregnated—I just hope the puppies don’t look like the failed iPhone5c!”
—Dogtown, NYC

And there you have it. After chopping my way through the overgrown brush of these Amazonia reviews, I consider myself lucky to have my book only mistaken for a heating blanket. Perhaps if it had started a small fire or an unnecessary Florida controversy, it could be banned somewhere…and then be found in better bookstores near you.

Duane Scott Cerny is a humorist, baby booming vintage dealer, and the author of the bestselling memoirs Vintage Confidential and Selling Dead People’s Things. He resides in Chicago, the West Village, and on uncomfortable seating at LGA.