Opinion: Present company withstanding


The Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas ’22 gift catalog just arrived! It’s the longest-running mail-order retailer of its kind, its pages filled with unique (if not quirky) selections. Here are some of my favorites. Who knows, maybe this holiday you’ll receive…

John Wayne’s Canvas Rancher Jacket: This hand-crafted jacket features a notched corduroy collar. I guess the notches each represent some poor soul Duke wasted in a movie. Do the five buttons denote the people he eliminated in his real life for not embracing the Second Amendment? None of these jackets were returned, with customers saying, “You’ll have to pry that coat from my cold, dead hands.”

The Warming Cat Bed: “Recommended by veterinarians,” says HS. But only two vets could make an honest endorsement — the only two small enough to fit in the bed. The catalog says it can also be used for a small dog — but I’d take the cat out first.

The Side Sleepers’ Ergonomic Pillow: Ideal for someone who is sleeping with someone on the side. The pillow adjusts to your head and neck, providing support (providing support is what you will have to do if you get caught).

The Perfect Spiral Robotic Quarterback: This training tool loads footballs and launches them 75 feet. You pump each ball, putting in as much air as you like. Endorsed by Tom Brady.

The Lego City Police Station: The 680-piece Lego set comes with a three-story building, a jail, cops and police dogs. At kids’ bedtime when toys must be put away, parents can post a sign that says, “Deconstruct the police.”

The Electronic Tag Game: This is a modern version of tag, where kids wear LED lights so they can see who has been tagged. Huh? When I was a kid, I wasn’t smart enough to reduce a fraction, but I sure didn’t need a light to know who was “it.”

The New York Times Jigsaw Puzzle of Your Birthdate: Ever wonder what the front page of the New York Times looked like the day you were born? Me, either. This 600-piece puzzle tests your concentration and patience. Remember the New York Times slogan, “All the news we print will fit,” unless the dog chewed a piece.

The Personalized Animated Singing Elephant Chair: This giant plush pachyderm sings, “Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro?” At 8 years old and first discovering my body, that’s not how I sang the words.

One favorite item from a past holiday edition is still available:

The Soft Kangaroo Wallet: This billfold is made from the hide of a kangaroo. How ironic that here’s an animal, one of the few on the planet with an actual pocket that can carry something, and we made him into a wallet.