Sitting on my back porch on a particularly hot recent day, it was a breath of cold air when the mail arrived with six Christmas catalogs. It was just in the nick of time because I had planned to start my holiday shopping any 90 days now.
My favorite publication in the pile was the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. I haven’t made fun of their eccentric gift suggestions in almost two years, so summer is the perfect time to get back in the Christmas spirit.
Their publication always begins with a short introductory note by HS spokesperson Richard Warren. In this edition he begins by alluding to the global pandemic, which is just what we want to hear to get us into the holiday mood.
Mr. Warren notes that in their 172-year history, Hammacher Schlemmer has endured “numerous financial crises including in 1857, 1893, 1907 and 1929,” a few references we can all relate to as we look back and wonder how we could have gotten through those hard times without a good gift catalog.
“People want quality products that address the issues we all face,” says Warren. Here are a few examples:
A Two-Story Inflatable Cat: This the largest Halloween decoration in the world, we are told. It’s only $299.95 — but for those really interested in authenticity, how about offering a 10-square-foot litter box?
The Laser Hair Regrowth Therapy Cap: This gadget uses photo biomodulation with 82 medical-grade lasers. The device “encourages hair growth”? Sorry, but have you seen my hairline? It needs more than encouragement; it needs some tough love discipline. Oh, and for three grand you can upgrade this product with three times as many lasers, which you will need, says HS, “if you are already balding.” Perfect for guys who also want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
Memory Foam Slippers: I’m not really sure what that phrase means. But at my age it can’t hurt to have a pair of shoes that remembers where I’ve been … and maybe where I am going.
Easy Read Scale: This is an analog bathroom scale with giant numbers. HS claims anyone can see the numerals — well almost anyone, if you get what I mean.
Build Your Perfect Sport Stadium: This is a kit for kids that allows them to design and construct their own miniature stadium. It comes with walls, stands, lights and overhangs. It does not include any tiny fans to put in the seats. That would not be realistic.
The Best Bug Vacuum: This cordless device inhales insects. According to HS, “The institute analysts sucked up 24 crickets in 15 seconds.” Wow, what fun! And I think we all know how often a situation like that comes up.
Cordless Ultrasonic Rodent Repeller: The sound it emits cannot be heard by humans, but it repels rats. Just curious: then where do the rats go? Back under your bed? HS says this unit can be mounted on a wall. What’s more welcoming for Thanksgiving guests than to see that you have a rat deterrent device hanging next to the dining room table?
And finally, the $29.95 Five Mile Flashlight: I have nothing really funny to say about this item, but I’d really like one and my friend at HS sometimes sends me an inexpensive gift to thank me for mentioning Hammacher Schlemmer in my column. Hi, Ann Marie :-).
Dick Wolfsie was a reporter for WISH-TV in Indianapolis for more than 30 years. His columns appear in 30 Indiana newspapers. He is a resident of Indianapolis. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.