Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bad Christmas Gifts

One Christmas, back in the dinosaur age, when Southern Beale was just a baby blogger waiting for Al Gore to invent the internet, my grandmother gave our family the strangest gift. With absolutely no irony whatsoever, she presented us with an electric inside the shell egg scrambler.

It was the kind of completely useless thing advertised on late night TV back before the days of infomercials. Back then everything was “brought to you by Ronco” and came with a free ginsu knife!

We thought it was hilarious. It certainly beat the time my grandmother gave everyone in the family neon-colored fuzzy bathrobes--without the belts, which she said she was going to sew together to turn into a rug. My grandmother was an eccentric woman, to say the least, and not given to home craft projects of this type, so it was no surprise that after she died several years later we found those belts shoved in the back of her closet. Needless to say, the robes had been consigned to a Goodwill bin years earlier.

Anyway, I was reminded of this when I saw a TV advertisement for The Snuggie, the “blanket with sleeves.” Mr. Beale and I just cracked up when we saw this ad. Mr. Beale couldn’t believe anyone would wear one of these things out in public. If you’re going to a sporting event and it’s cold outside, why not just wear a coat?

I think the burgundy-colored ones make the wearers look like priests in a strange cult. And notice, these things have no belts! My grandmother would be proud.

I’m trying to imagine who this item appeals to. I’m guessing the very elderly or someone in a wheelchair--anyone for whom standing up to put a robe or sweater on the "proper" way is a challenge.

One of the things that amuses me about the holiday season is the opportunity to see this collision of American ingenuity and consumerism. Seriously, who thought Chia Pets would ever take off? And yet they are a holiday staple.

So to the inventor of the Snuggie, the Clapper, the ThighMaster, the PerfectPatty and all of the other gizmos and gadgets that are hawked on late night TV during the holidays, my hat's off to you. It takes real talent to come up with this crazy stuff and convince us we absolutely, positively cannot live without it.

Merry Christmas!