At this time of year we are bombarded with appeals to help the needy, most of which come from worthy agencies. However, our mailboxes also overflow with catalogs offering merchandise I classify as “needless for the clueless.”
Those folks unable to remember where they put their keys can grab a wireless key finder for $50. Just press a button on the transmitter and a key fob will sound an alarm. Maybe for another 50 there is a device that will help the helpless find the transmitter.
Once the sedentary set find their automobiles they will not have to concern themselves with swinging their body into position for driving because the sit-and-swivel cushion will do that (for yet another 50 bucks). Of course, that cushion may lessen some of the pleasure derived from the sheepskin seat cover ($80) designed especially to keep the derriere comfy all year round.
Tipplers who can only count up to 80 (bucks) can purchase an alcohol detector which “helps you decide when to say when.” Rather than exhaling into a gizmo, such lost souls should be hailing a cab.
Those whose math is feeble even when sober can grab a digital coin sorter that counts and sorts change into four neat piles. More prudent individuals might contemplate how many quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies are needed to come up with the $100 to acquire the gewgaw.
An appropriate companion for the coin sorter on a dresser is the automatic watch winder ($100) which only works with watches that wind from wrist motion. What a handy device for the lethargic crowd. Buy one for every catatonic on your gift list.
Another bedroom contrivance of dubious worth is the alarm clock on wheels that rolls off the nightstand at the appointed time. Picture the awakened party bumping bare feet into bedposts and poking under chairs as he or she pursues this ringing roly poly nuisance and wondering if it was worth $40 to run a mini-marathon five days a week at 6:00 AM just because the $4.98 oldie is too easy to shut off from the pillow.
The late riser who is in a hurry may not want to wait ten minutes for the towel warmer ($80) to do its job, yet the self-indulgent can turn that hardship into a “roughing it” anecdote during coffee break: “I was running so late after my shower that I had to dry myself off with a room temperature towel.”
Hungry souls repelled by sodden cereal at breakfast may be attracted to the Never-Soggy Cereal Bowl ($20) which has separate chambers for crunchies and milk. The same result can be achieved by using two separate bowls, but that would require more arm action than the automatic wrist action crowd can tolerate. Ditto for the motion-activated candy dispenser ($40). Reaching into a bag or a bowl of jelly beans or peanuts puts too many muscles into play whereas the open-handed gesture assures one of “sanitary, touch-free” service (providing the batteries are still operational).
When we open our own hands and our hearts this holiday season, let us again distinguish wants and needs. Sybarites may want every piece of tinsel waved before them in the glossy pages of catalogs, but is there a need for a $300 Quadricopter droning around overhead or space-taking $1600 wireless hi-fi speakers or dual-temperature mattress pads lying underneath for a cool/hot $1000? The only hopeful words to be found in the catalog in question are those accompanying a headset: “noise cancellation.” Unfortunately, it only takes care of the din coming at us through the ears.