• The Sea-Monkey Letter

    April 24th, 2013TroubleEnsuedStreams of Consciousness

    I think we’ve already established that I was a strange child (see “Bunny:  Wanted for Breaking and Entering“).

    But in addition to being strange, apparently, I also had an anger management issue.  Or I was a good consumer.  I’m not sure which.

    My family has always referred to my lifelong penchant for putting a corporation’s feet to the fire as a “Sea-Monkey Letter”.  So in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I should share that part of my childhood with you.

    You see, when I was 13, I whole-heartedly believed the advertisements for Sea-Monkeys.  Yes.  I was the one.  (I already said I was a strange child…don’t judge.)   So I bought a package of Sea-Monkeys, and (surprise, surprise) they turned out to be a big waste of money and time.  Well, my little 13-year-old-self didn’t intend to take that sitting down.  They had guaranteed if the Sea-Monkeys failed to grow, then for 25 cents and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, they would send replacements.  So complete with little circles dotting the i’s, here’s my first consumer letter to Sea-Monkey headquarters (the brilliantly named “Transcience Corporation”):

    Dear Sirs,

    I bought some Sea-Monkeys about 3 weeks ago.  I know this is early to tell how well they are growing however none of them are doing much growing seeing they all are dead!

    Yeah, apparently I had already learned the importance of a powerful opening paragraph. I went on to say:

    I’ve fed them only genuine “Sea-Monkey food” and they were all around 1/16 of an inch.  This morning I saw the little “pets” floating around with the current.  Not one of them moved.

    Aw, I’m slinging their own corporate marketing lingo right back at them.  That’ll show ‘em! Plus, I’m getting a huge head start on the overuse of quotation marks, which will be a really big topic of conversation in, oh, about 40 years.

    Please tell me how to keep the water clean.  The monkeys aren’t very tidy. 

    The “water purifier” business makes me afraid to add water.  When 70% of the water has evaporated matters get complicated.

    Most people I’ve talked with say the whole thing was a hoax.  I, as usual, was a sucker & bought some.  ”I tried them!” I didn’t like them.

    Okay, so I watched too many commercials when I was 13.  ”Try it, you’ll like it,” was a huge advertising slogan back in the day.  Perhaps I thought I would sound like a more savvy consumer if I knew other companies’ slogans as well?  I dunno.  Again, don’t judge.

    Well my little “pets” are in the big fish bowl in the sky now.  The water up there is probably dirty, too.  Other Sea-Monkey owners say they don’t know how to clean the water.  One family resorted to flushing their little “pets” down the commode.

    Ah, see?  The anger management issue is starting to rear its ugly head.  You can tell I’m getting heated.  Yeaah, it’s about to get ugly up in here!  Okay, okay…I’ll stop interrupting.

    I’m 13 years old and am definitely not a scientific genius.  I don’t know anything about “Sea-Monkeys” and what’s more I don’t want to know.  So please don’t send me my dear little replacements.  All I ask for is my 98 cents back.

    I intend to warn my friends about this experience.  It’s cruel.  I think your whole test tube clan should stick to selling goldfish.  They don’t hatch instantly, but they’re a lot more reliable.

    Thank you.  (For nothing.)

    SNAP!  And with that, I thought I was Consumer of The Year.  The Sea-Monkey corporation would be putty in my hands.  I had threatened to tell my friends!  Okay, so it took me 40 years to make good on that threat.  (Although in my defense, somebody had to invent the internet and social media for me to really get any traction with this.)  But I AM telling my friends about it now.  SO THERE!  I am nothing if not persistent.

    Well, the Sea-Monkey people did write back.  A handwritten note.  On a 3×5 card.

    I honestly think any corporation who sends out their correspondence on a 3×5 card is just not destined for the Fortune 500. Granted, any corporation who sells brine shrimp to unsuspecting children is probably not destined for the Fortune 500 anyway.  But come on! Buy some corporate stationery, people!  Show some Sea-Monkey pride!

    Anyway, they refused to give me my requested refund.  And yes, adding insult to injury, they only included the guaranteed replacements.  (Which I still have, by the way.)

    I guess they weren’t as intimidated by my letter as I had intended.  But it gave my parents a tremendous laugh.  And even though it wasn’t completely successful, the experience somehow gave me a sense of consumer power that has stayed with me.  To this day if a company ticks me off, my husband will widen his eyes and ask if I’m about to write a “Sea Monkey letter”.

    So Corporate America:  beware.  You’d better stock up on 3×5 cards.

     

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14 comments on “The Sea-Monkey Letter”

  • That. Is. Hilarious. Even at 13, you had a way with “the words”!

  • Tears rolling down my face! How have I never heard this story?? Thanks Tracey…I needed a good laugh!

    PS – Love the penmanship!! Not sure all the little loops & circles dotting your i’s would hold up to PCS standards…but the slant is perfect! Guess those slant guides really did the trick!

  • Hilarious!!!!!! Only you, Tracey, only you could pull this off!!! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Dear Tracey,

    Clearly you have serious and deep-seated emotional scars. As you know, (and as Stanley said in “A Streetcar Named Desire) “I have a lawyer acquaintance who will study them out.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what that means but I bet it’s bad for whoever or whomever gets studied-out. Yes we may have an issue with the Statute of Limitations, but I think we can hire a shrink to testify that you were too traumatized as child to handle the stress of a lawsuit, so I think we can skirt around the SOL issues.

    We who have known you for a long time have always wondered (and have had many discussions about) what happened in your childhood that may have caused you to turn out the way you did. [You can find our speculations at http://thatgirlcrazy.com, unless the CIA has taken it down again.] Most of us have speculated that you were dropped on your head (repeatedly) as an infant. I still believe that was the case, but this Sea Monkey experience was also clearly a contributing factor.

    After reading this latest post I renew my pleadings to you: Tracey get some help. If not for your sake, for the sake of the rest of us: http://psychiatrists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/CA/Los+Angeles.html

    Sincerely,

    JB

    PS: Keep the posts rolling!!!!! I laughed out-loud and read sections to Kate even though I knew she had already read the story. Sometimes when something is really funny, you just have to hear yourself read it. You are brilliant!!!!!!!!! [Did I use enough exclamation points?] I think it’s about time you start working on a Dan’s Crotch Story… well, let me clarify. What I mean is for you to start working on Part One of Twelve.

  • I think that is just the best story I’ve read in long time. It is amazing that you kept the index card response.

    I laughed so much, my eyes were tearing up and looked like I had been crying. Tracey, you’ve got a real gift of making people smile!

    Thanks for making my day!

    K

  • Tracey,

    Since I use your blog to access Amazon, I see the opening of the Sea Monkeys story several times a week… and something just occurred to me. Any child who is that articulate at that age, should not be stupid enough to fall for the Sea Monkey’s scam. The phrase, “If it is sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” has been around for a long time for a reason. You deserved what you got!

    With great love,

    Judson

    • Oh, so right you are. But as you can tell, even when I was a kid…trouble ensued. Thanks so much for supporting the site by shopping through my links. Much appreciated!

  • That was funny. But what’s more funny is the wife and I are currently revisiting our childhood and raising a colony of brine shrimp (oops, I mean Sea-Monkeys). As it turns out we were doing it all wrong as kids. This time we actually read the frickin’ instructions and did research about them on the internet (something our parents did not have access to). Apparently another mistake we made as kids was to empty the Aquarium Zoo into the toilet while thinking they were all dead and crying about them. It turns out that’s not entirely true and we weren’t given all the really cool information. Dead Sea-Monkeys leave behind undeveloped offspring which can be dehydrated, forced into complete Cryptobiosis (yeah, look that word up), and be reborn in briny water again. Of course, if we kids would have known that, then the stores wouldn’t have made a second sale on another kit. All we really need the Transcience Corp. for is the hard to find novelty pet accessories. But you know, Even after realizing what Sea-Monkeys truly are (modified brine shrimp), we still find them completely fascinating and cute little creatures. They’re easy to feed (forgetting doesn’t harm them). You don’t have to clean their tank, because their sheddings are part of their ecosystem, that’s how algae scavengers live. And, all you really have to do is watch them, let them play in the sun 2 or 3 hours every day, and aerate their water. They really should make super easy pets, but you know how kids are… we tend to over complicate things when being told we’re “Sea-Monkey Scientists” growing magical creatures… lol. But, as an adult, and while understanding how their process works, and knowing what the right conditions are, my mission is to complete what I wanted to do with Sea-Monkeys as a kid… To raise a big colony of them in a standard 5 gallon aquarium and see how big I can get them to be. Then, I’m going to take my biggest “pets”, put them on a fishing hook (or modified bait pack), and see which fish in the lake finds them most delicious. Here fishy, fishy, fishy. Here’s your Sea-Monkey Treats!!!

    • I look forward to your revisiting this topic to let us know how big your Sea-Monkeys eventually get! If they get bigger than bait, maybe you can fry ‘em up served with a little cocktail sauce on the side? (Although it’ll probably will take a bunch of them to make a dozen.)


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