Forget The Nutcracker. Forget
nibbling gorging on Christmas cookies. Forget being annoyed by those Lexus-with-a-big-red-bow-on-it ads. (Seriously, who gives someone a Lexus for Christmas?) One of my most anticipated events of the holiday season is perusing the annual Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts catalog. (Which not only gives joy to the consuming world but also pretty much answers the question “Who gives someone a Lexus for Christmas?”)
The first gift on offer this year is a WALK-ON ROLE IN THE SMASH BROADWAY MUSICAL WAITRESS, $30,000. It would be difficult for me to come up with a musical that I would be better suited to appear in. Sure, I’m an orphan, so I could do an Annie revival. I once worked in a shoe factory, so I could easily handle a walk on in Pajama Game, even though that’s about garment workers looking for a 7 1/2 cent an hour raise. So that one’s unlikely to see the light of a new day anytime soon. But since I logged so many hours as a waitress back in the day – Durgin-Park, Big Boy’s, Union Oyster House and a few others – I’m a natural for any part that requires white shoes and an apron. But $30K… That’s more than I even made in my entire tip-life combined.
As a reader – and appreciator of children’s books – I could be happy with a CURATED COLLECTION OF 36 CALDECOTT MEDAL—WINNING CHILDREN'S BOOKS, $100,000. There are some wonderful books on this list – Make Way for Ducklings, Where the Wild Things Are – and they are first editions (or “early printings), but $100K is a lot to pay for 36 books. And one of the books is The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, about Philippe Petit who memorably – and nightmare-ably – tightrope walked between the World Trade Center Towers 40 or so years ago. I’d pay $100K to have the image of Petit on his tightrope expunged from my brain.
There there’s A WEEK OF LUXE LIVING AT THREE ENGLISH ESTATES, $700,000. When you consider that this is a trip for eight, I guess it’s not all that pricey. I mean, it’s less than $100K per capita, so one could swap out those high end Lexuses (Lexi?) with the red bows and create a memory of helicoptering, Range Rovering, and pigeon shooting at estates that include Churchill’s Blenheim. There’s no mention of whether the package comes with Wellies, Burberry jackets, or Hermes scarves like the ones the Queen ties under her chin. Bet you could raid a closet or two and come up with something. To the very hounds!
But if you don’t have $700K or seven friends you want to swan around England with for a week – and if you’re something of a jock-sniffing football buff – how about A ONE-DAY PRIVATE QUARTERBACK CAMP WITH JOE MONTANA, $65,000. It’s not just you, by the way. It’s for you and three “cronies” (their word, not mine). And unlike the Brit trip, which has couples written all over it, for this one you get to leave the wives at home. The copy pushes this gift toward actual kid quarterbacks from Pop Warner to high school, but does give a nod to flag-football leaguer “dads”. I suspect the Joe Montana name has more cachet with the dad (and granddad) set. Gift includes a picture with Joe Cool and a personalized football. Plus advice on getting to the next level in your football career and “skills [which] could help you win the game of life, too.” Take two, they’re small.
INFINITI Q60 NEIMAN MARCUS LIMITED EDITION, $63,000 I’m not quite sure what differences there are between a Lexus with a big red bow on it and a “head-turner” Infiniti from N-M, but I suspect car people know. And the car
“…boasts only-through-us upgrades. (Prepare yourself.) Exclusive carbon fiber fender vents, fog-light finishers, mirror caps, and rear spoiler. Gleaming red brake calipers. Glorious white, leather-appointed, and deeply bolstered sport seats and interior. A matching white leather weekender bag, complete with the car's VIN number on a unique plaque in a special compartment inside, made expressly for you. A satin-smooth indoor car cover with a cashmere-soft lining, tastefully marked with the Neiman Marcus logo…
Honestly, I did try to prepare myself for that list of upgrades, but what a let down. I was hoping for a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints in the glove compartment, and instead I got a weekender bag with the car’s VIN number on it. Maybe it’s just me…
And then there’s a gift that’s probably more suited for just me. FOR THE PESSIMIST: A MATTRESS WITH BUILT-IN LOCKBOX, $25,000 This would be a must-have, if it weren’t for the fact that the mattress is king-sized, while my bed is queen. And I have a perfectly good safe-deposit in the bank that’s a minute’s walk from here. No, I don’t have access 24/7, but if the world has gone to such hell in a hand basket – even if it’s a hand-crafted N-M hand basket – that I need my valuables, it probably won’t matter whether my valuables are accessible under my mattress. Besides, the only valuables I have are myself and my friends and family, and we all won’t fit stuffed under my bed. (How would everyone breathe? What if someone had to get up in the night and use the bathroom? Do I have to think of everything for N-M?)
It’s cheaper to look on the sunny side of life. FOR THE OPTIMIST: A BRACELET THAT BRIGHTENS THE FUTURE, $25. Well, I’m more the pessimist type, but even us pessimists like the idea of brightening the future, now more than ever with the dark and menacing clouds on the horizon. The bracelet comes from Akola, a non-profit “that empowers marginalized women to become agents of transformation in their families and communities around the globe.” The bracelet “features hand-rolled paper beads in confident black or cheery white, a recycled-glass bead, and two accent discs plated in 18-karat gold.” All the N-M fantasy gifts come with a donation to some charity or other, but this one gives you real bang for your spending buck: the full price goes to the Akola project. (Jeez, am I actually talking myself into ordering something from the N-M Fantasy Gift Catalog????)
Only halfway through, and I’m already out of breath. We’ll get to the second half tomorrow.
On Neiman, on Marcus, on Prancer, on Vixen…