In our household, nothing signals the advent of the holiday season more than the arrival of the Harriet Carter catalog.
Every year, Ms. Carter tantalizes us with a strange and heady array of odd offerings and As-Seen-on-TV must-have products. I'm not sure when (or if) anybody in our household ever ordered anything from her, but still the catalogs keep on coming.
And surely somebody must be buying these things. The catalog offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those people -- imagine Christmas morning in a Harriet Carter house! Grandma, wearing her most festive rayon shift, plugs in the fiberoptic tabletop light-up tree decoration, while Grandpa reclines on the Stratolounger, comfortably swathed in an Atlanta Falcons washable poly/fleece Slanket. They lovingly exchange closet organizers, fondly anticipating the arrival of the kids, grandkids and assorted cousins for a 2 p.m. ham supper.
Not a bad picture, eh? Want to get in on that action? If you do -- and who doesn't? -- here are just a few last-minute Harriet Carter gift items you could have ordered weeks ago:
In past years, the Banana Bag was available solely through sketchy European catalogs featuring insufficient gentlemen's undergarments. Leave it to Harriet Carter to bring this popular item into the kitchen! "Nobody likes wasting money and tossing out brown, bruised or mushy bananas. Just place your bananas into this airtight bag, close the drawstring and put into the fridge. Keeps out oxygen and bacteria so bananas stay fresher longer."
Too bad your dog is so stupid. Here, maybe this will help delay Fido's downward mental spiral. Happy holidays!
Price: $9.98 / 2 for $18.50
For the classy guy or gal on your list, the Beer Holster is that go-everywhere accessory, perfect for -- uh, well, not office parties, certainly, but maybe bowling? No, it would interfere with the arm-swing. How about the strip club? No? Actually, it's difficult to think of a place or situation in which the Beer Holster is appropriate. The recipient will be obligated to humor you by wearing the Beer Holster for exactly the length of time it takes to drink one beer, and then back it will go into its packaging to be secretly re-gifted at a later date. Value for money!
According to the product description, "[the] 'Fanny' Bank makes saving money a real GAS! Just drop a coin in the strategically placed slot of this tushy-shaped bank and listen as it lets out the loudest rip you've ever heard. Add more loot, hear more toot!"
Now, saving money is a very good idea in these lean times. But it's not always easy. This product employs a Skinnerian operant-conditioning model to encourage financial responsibility. Behavioral psychology is tricky, though -- some people enjoy fart jokes, some don't. Personally, I'm not a big fan. I miss the days when flatulent humor was confined to elementary school playgrounds and Italian political comedies. For me, the rude noises emitted by the "Fanny" Bank would constitute a punishment stimulus rather than a positive reinforcement and likely discourage me from saving. At the very least, it would encourage me to throw the damned thing across the room, after which I would revert to my old behavior of tossing all my pennies into a bowl on the dresser.
Like it or not, though, in recent years, the passing of gas has crept into the American comedic vernacular. So there very well may be people in your life who enjoy listening to "more toot" -- if so, this product is just the thing to get them started on the road to economic solvency.
$14.98 NOW $11.98
OK, maybe the Snooki [TM] Wig is more appropriate for Halloween -- specifically, Halloween 2010 -- than for Christmas. Still, bargain hunters can appreciate the fact that it's marked down. And, hey, if there's ever a bad time to rock a Snooki [TM] Wig, I don't want to know about it.
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