Photos by Bob Eighmie For the Miami Herald
The holiday season is here: It’s time to do your gift shopping!
This is assuming, of course, that you live in 1985. If you live in the current year (2012), you’re too late. You were supposed to do your holiday gift shopping on Thanksgiving.
In the old days, Thanksgiving was not a shopping day. It was a day when we expressed gratitude for our many God-given blessings in the same way our Pilgrim forefathers did: by eating a 27,000-calorie meal, then spending the rest of the day lying motionless watching televised football while burping out gravy fumes.
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Back then, Black Friday actually happened on Friday, which is how it got the name “Black Friday.” But then the Black Friday store-opening hours — probably as a result of global climate change — started creeping earlier and earlier. The stores opened at 10 a.m., then 6 a.m., then 3 a.m., and so on, until we have reached the point where, this year, Black Friday actually began on Thursday evening.
So Thanksgiving is no longer a day of quiet reflective belching. The new Thanksgiving tradition is to gulp down your dinner, then race to the mall and join the vast swarming hordes of bargain-hunters getting into fistfights over discounted electronics.
And it’s going to get worse, as Black Friday Backward Creep continues. Soon the stores will open at noon Thursday; shoppers will eat their Thanksgiving dinners while waiting in line for the store doors to open — thousands of people squatting on the sidewalk outside Target gnawing on turkey legs, like a scene from a zombie movie, only not as festive.
And as Black Friday continues to creep backward the time will come, inevitably, when we observe Black Friday on Halloween, and then July Fourth, and then Memorial Day, and so on, earlier and earlier, until we are observing Black Friday on Black Friday again, but it will be the PREVIOUS Black Friday, which will be so confusing that human civilization as we know it will collapse.
But my point is, if you’re just getting started now on your holiday shopping, you have already missed the mall bargains. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you’re still in time for our annual Holiday Gift Guide, which features a collection of unique gift items that you are not going to find at the mall, because not even holiday mall shoppers are desperate enough to buy these items.
As always, we want to stress that all of the items in the Holiday Gift Guide are really for sale; we know this because we purchased all of them ourselves, although not of course with our own personal money. And as always we stand behind these items somewhere between 110 and 135 percent depending on the item. That is why we are able to offer the following Quality Assurance Legalistic Guarantee of Limited Warranty: If you purchase any item from the Holiday Gift Guide, and for any reason whatsoever you are not completely satisfied, simply return the item to its original packaging, then bake it in a 375-degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the center bursts into flames. Serves six.
But enough with the legal boilerplate. Let’s take a look at the items that “made the cut” for the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, starting with:
‘ON THE GO’ CHARACTER INFLATABLE POTTY SEAT
$11.95 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com
Suggested by Peter Metrinko of Gainesville, Va.
If you’re a parent of young children, there’s one thing you could definitely use when you take your kids out to public places: drugs.
No! Sorry! We do not mean that. What we mean is, you could definitely use this inflatable potty seat. Instead of making your child sit directly on a public toilet that has, for all you know, been used by some disgusting disease-ridden pervert or United States senator, you can simply inflate this potty seat, using your mouth, then put it on the toilet seat for your child to sit on. Then you simply deflate the potty seat and burn it, because you’re not going to want to keep it around, let alone reinflate it.
Bonus: This item can also be worn as a hat.
‘THE WOOFER’ WEARABLE SOUND SYSTEM FOR DOGS
$120 (includes shipping and handling) from http://www.thewoofer.com
Suggested by Martha Kokes of Burlingame, Calif.
If there’s one thing that everybody agrees on, it’s that dogs do not make enough noise. Finally, thanks to technology, we have a solution to this problem, in the form of The Woofer. This is a dog coat with built-in battery-powered speakers and a place to plug in an iPod, so you can turn your pet into a walking boom box. Imagine how thrilled your dog will be when you strap it into this garment, then crank up the tunes! You’re sure to get many hours of enjoyment from The Woofer, until the day comes, as it inevitably will, when your dog rips out your throat.
NFL PRO TOASTER
$27.95 plus shipping and handling from The Lakeside Collection, PO Box 3088, Northbrook, Ill., 60065-3088, 847-444-3150; www.lakeside.com
Suggested by Terri Card of Corvallis, Ore.
If you’re a pro football fan, you probably show your support for your team in the usual ways: going to the games, drinking $12 beers, yelling obscenities at the officials and vomiting on the people sitting in front of you. And that’s fine, as far as it goes. But if you want to be a REAL fan, you need to show your support in the most meaningful way of all: with toast. And to do that, you need the NFL Pro Toaster. This amazing appliance uses advanced toaster technology to burn your team logo right into your toast. Then you can either eat it, or — better yet — take it with you to the game and wave it with pride. The other fans will be deeply impressed. That’s how drunk they are.
MEGA PLUMBER ACTION HERO
$10 plus shipping and handling from American Standard Plumber Protects League, 1 Centennial Plaza, Piscataway, NJ 08855-6820, 800-442-1902; www.plumberprotects.com
Submitted by Janice Gelb of Melbourne, Australia
Do you have a child on your holiday gift list? If so, we’re certain that child will be very surprised to receive this item. It’s the Mega Plumber Action Hero, and it’s sold by American Standard, a leading manufacturer of commodes. The Mega Plumber stands six inches tall and comes with a miniature toilet. Tragically, he does not come with a miniature visible butt crack. Nevertheless we’re sure he’ll provide hours of quality entertainment for any child who enjoys fantasizing — and what child does not? — about unclogging drains. We think American Standard should come out with additional plumbing-related action figures, including villains who could be Mega Plumber’s arch-enemy, such as The Leaker, Big-Wad-of-Toilet-Paper-Flushing Woman and Hairball.
$3.50 (price includes shipping and handling) from BestOfferBuy.com, 2A Jalan Ayer, Singapore 389141; www.bestofferbuy.com
Submitted by Jon Harris of Christiansburg, Va.
Is there anything worse than getting your hands greasy from using them to manually pick up potato chips?
OK, yes, there are worse things. Cholera is one example. But greasy hands are no picnic, and that’s why everybody on your gift list will be thrilled to receive this grabbing hand, which despite its low price is actually made from genuine plastic. In addition to picking up chips, it can be used to feed dangerous animals, or perform delicate medical operations when you don’t want to touch the patient directly. It’s also handy for shaking hands with people whom you suspect of having poor hygiene. It is our understanding that Donald Trump carries this item wherever he goes. Especially the bathroom.
ARTIFICIAL GRASS FLIP-FLOPS
$30.59 (approximate - $29.95 AUD) plus shipping and handling from www.kusashoes.com
Suggested by Jeff Meyerson of Brooklyn, N.Y.
How would you like to experience the feeling of walking barefoot on synthetic turf even when you’re not actually walking barefoot on synthetic turf? For centuries, this was just a dream of humanity. But now it’s a reality, thanks to these flip-flops, which are like regular flip-flops, except they have artificial grass where your feet go. When you put these on, you immediately notice a big difference. For one thing, people will be staring at your feet. Ignore them. They are just jealous.
These are the official flip-flops of the United States Supreme Court.
TRAILER-HITCH-MOUNTED STRIPPER POLE
$449 plus shipping and handling from Platinum Stages, 1582 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, Calif., 92663, 866-857-6537; www.platinumstages.com
Suggested by Sharon Lurie of Antioch, Tenn.
The big problem with conventional stripper poles is that they are attached to strip clubs, which are large heavy buildings and therefore difficult to transport. This severely limits a stripper’s ability to relocate his or her pole quickly in the event of an emergency, or to make a house call. That is why we are so excited about this product, which is a solid-steel stripper pole on a platform that mounts on a standard vehicle trailer hitch. This means that the pole can be moved to anywhere the vehicle can go. Theoretically, it also means that the stripper could do a pole dance in traffic. We don’t know if that would be legal, but it should be. If we had more strippers pole-dancing on our highways, we would have a lot fewer drivers looking down at their phones and texting. In other words, this item could actually be beneficial to highway safety. It could also bring some much-needed levity to funeral processions.
SQUIRREL AND CHICKEN MASKS
$19.43 and $24.95 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com
Suggested by Jan Mangan of Aromas, Calif.
Have you ever found yourself in a meeting at work when you wanted to fall asleep, or make faces at other meeting participants, but you can’t because you need to remain employed? If so, you, or some employed person on your holiday gift list, could definitely use one of these masks. These are large rubber masks that cover your entire head. You can see out, sort of, through the eye holes, but nobody can see in. So you appear to be an attentive, interested, meeting-attending squirrel or chicken, no matter what you are actually doing with your face in there.
FACT: Many airline pilots wear these on international flights.
$24.99 plus shipping and handling from Lena Fiore’, Inc., 1039 Riviera Way, Macedonia, Ohio 44056, 330-468-3226; www.toilet-tattoos.com
If you’re like most people, it has been a long time since you remarked: “That is certainly a visually interesting toilet seat!” The sad fact is that most residential commodes feature boring, “ho-hum” seats. But that no longer has to be the case, thanks to Toilet Tattoos, which are removable vinyl decorations you can stick onto your toilet seat. They come in a variety of stock themes, including toilet-training cartoons, monograms and some very tasteful Christmas and Chanukah images. Or you can design your own Toilet Tattoo. Here at the Gift Guide we had one made from a photograph of the great entertainer Barry Manilow. Every time we look down at our toilet, there’s Barry, looking up at us. He has never looked better.
INFLATABLE UNICORN HORNS FOR CATS
$5 plus shipping and handling from Archie McPhee and Company, 10915 47th Ave. W., Mukilteo, Wash. 98275, 425-349-3009, www.mcphee.com
Suggested by Jon Harris of Christiansburg, Va.
Do you have cat lovers on your holiday list? If so, here’s a gift that is sure to make them say: “What?” It’s an inflatable unicorn horn for cats. And if you know anything about cats, you know how much they, as a species, enjoy being dressed up as mythical figures. To use this horn, you simply blow it up and attach it to your cat’s head with elastic straps. Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ensuing hilarity for several lighthearted nanoseconds. And then it’s time to go to the emergency room.
EMERGENCY UNDERPANTS DISPENSER
$6.95 plus shipping and handling from Archie McPhee and Company, 10915 47th Ave. W., Mukilteo, Wash. 98275, 425-349-3009, www.mcphee.com
Suggested by Terri Card of Corvallis, Ore.
This is a convenient dispenser box that contains five pairs of emergency unisex underpants. It makes a perfect holiday gift for people who occasionally lose control of their bodily functions, or cause others to do so. Picture this scenario: A business executive calls a longtime employee into his office and says: “Fred, I have to let you go. If you feel this news will cause you to soil yourself, feel free to take a pair of spare underpants from this box.” This is exactly the kind of heartwarming gesture that makes the holidays what they are.
This year, give the precious gift of peace of mind. Give emergency underpants.
The Gift Guide thanks:
Thanks to the following people who helped out with the 2012 Dave Barry Gift Guide:, Blake Batchelder, Connor Batchelder, Ellie Brecher, Michaella Cavari, Emily Cavari, Colleen Cavari, Michael Cavari, Rory Clarke, Mark Dickstein, John Dorschner, Wendy Doscher-Smith, Nancy Foster, Kim Friedlander, Howard Friedlander, Benjamin Friedlander, Kristy Haffer, Bob Harksel, Gino Jensen, Julia Jensen, Jeff Kleinman, Rochelle Koff, Randy McCafferty, A Christmas Place Ft. Lauderdale, Steve Rothaus, Edan Shekar, Adee Shekar, Meep Shekar, Felice Shekar, Judi Smith, Mimi Whitefield, Marc Workman, Vincent Workman, and David Workman.