The mail contained a form from the Opt-Out Department.

It had been sent to me because I had clicked the opt-out link on the financial offer that proved one too many for my patience with junk mail. If you just want to opt out for five years, you can do it by email. But if you want to opt out forever, you must tell them in writing. Since I plan to endure for more than another five years, I figured I'd go with the forever option.

So there it was, a simple, folded and perforated thing, very unassuming. But the existence of an Opt-Out Department intrigued me. And it got me thinking.

What if you could Opt Out of more than just mail containing financial offers? How about all non-first-class mail? Phone solicitations at dinner time? Stupid TV commercials and roadside billboards? Dental work?

How about an opportunity to opt out of noisy neighbors, nosy neighbors, traffic jams, body slams, Spam and spoiled clams? You could easily get on a roll with this sort of thing.

You might go on to opt out of firemen standing in the road with boots, people throwing rotten fruits and sergeants bawling at raw recruits. It could become habit-forming.

At night, you'd opt out of urban muggings, whiskey chuggings and excessive huggings. You surely would opt out of flammable jammies and flying salamis.

On vacation, you might opt out of ice cream queuing, photograph ruing and hot dog stewing, as well as tourist-trapping, un-refoldable mapping and mosquito-slapping. My, you are getting good at this.

Eventually, of course, all vacations come to an end. At work – well, you might try to opt out of work, and see what happens. If that doesn't, er, work, you could opt out of coffee fetching and office letching, along with interminable droning and pointless moaning.

Going to school? Plenty to opt out of there. Try test-taking, funny-face making and vending-machine shaking. Then graduate to note-passing and skip-classing.

For a good time, opt out of long faces, tied-together laces and slow-speed car chases. For a better time, opt out of all that's false, other people's faults and smelling salts. You can do this in your sleep now.

A few more things to opt out of might be earthquakes, most Arabian sheikhs, moldy cupcakes and polluted lakes. You could add Mercurochrome stains, friends who are pains, gigantic Mary Janes and bee stings.

What to opt into? Cloudless summer days, cows let out to graze, stars that brightly blaze, all your loving ways. Kisses, cuddles, canoodles and knishes. Sausage on the grill, doing what you will, someone paid your bill, climbing up a hill. Veracity, verisimilitude and virtue. The milk of kindness, the balm of forgiveness, the spice of variety and the treasure of tact.

In short, this has been a long way of saying go to bat for yourself and have a ball; find the treasures in the trash and throw the garbage out; put your best foot forward and the rest of you is bound to follow.

In very short, keep smiling. It drives them crazy.