2008-01-10 / Sam Bari

The origin of wedding presents

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

This is the week ladies and gentleman. The January "white sales" and other delightful retail selling events have begun. This is the month deep discounts can be found in just about every retail and outlet mall in the country. I don't really know, but I suspect that this annual phenomenon extends beyond borders. I am sure it is an international happening.

The month of January is when all the stuff that wasn't sold at Christmas goes on sale. If things don't go exactly as planned, and if the sale merchandise doesn't move, the sale will be extended into February until some sucker is dumb enough to actually pay real money for this unwanted merchandise.

Retailers are looking for chronic shoppers who can't see beyond a 70 percent off price tag. "It's 70 percent off!" they chant. "This is the chance of a lifetime! I can't resist!" they shout.

Chronic shoppers aren't even aware that they might be buying a flange grommet for the lipdoozle on a horse-drawn plow. It doesn't matter. They don't care. It's 70 percent off. They cannot pass up the concept of buying anything cheap, whether they need it or not. They can find out what the item is used for later. They just want to buy it now because quantities are limited and the sale item is 70 percent off.

These shoppers don't even consider that the original price for the item was beyond ridiculous. Their purpose in life is to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. "Those who hesitate miss out!" they say. "Strike when the iron is hot!" is their motto.

These people live for the month of January. They are drawn like lemmings to signs that say: "Not floor samples! Brand-new in the original box! Never been opened! Special shipment direct from the factory!"

I don't know this for certain, it is just a rumor. But as I understand it, when chronic shoppers get the sale merchandise home, they are embarrassed beyond recovery for being sucked into buying some useless item for an obscenely low price.

Consequently, they stash these items far in the back of closets where no one will ever find them. They are stored in areas where children accidentally go when they play hide-and-seek and are never seen again.

The items are not retrieved until a wedding invitation is received in the mail. The useless merchandise is then lavishly gift-wrapped and appears on the gift table at the reception of said an unsuspecting bride. When the bride returns from her exotic honeymoon, she will open the gift with her husband.

"What the hell?" she will say. "Wow!" her husband will reply. "A flange grommet for a lipdoozle. My great grandfather could have used that. It's a vital part for a horse-drawn plow."

"But sweetheart," the bride will reply. "We live in Manhattan, and we can't really afford a horsedrawn plow, although we sorely need one. What, oh love of my life, do you propose we do with this lip grommet flangedoozle or whatever you call it?"

"Oh, don't worry about it," her husband will say. "Just stash it in some closet until we're invited to a wedding. Then re-wrap it and give it away to the next bride. Let her deal with it."

The original flange grommet for the lipdoozle was purchased in 1810. It has been passed on to at least two weddings a year for more than two centuries for a total of more than 400 weddings. Although that is probably some kind of a record, we will never know.

Wedding gifts are born from people with the chronic shopper disease. The malady causes irresistible urges to buy anything on sale. The sickness is generally the deep dark secret of families and victims who don't want their identity revealed. They won't even put the merchandise in the trash out of fear that their garbage man will divulge the most closely guarded skeleton in their closet and let everyone know.

Beware of the chronic shoppers. They are easy to spot if you know the telltale signs. They are the people who don't ever look quite right. They wear brand-new old clothing, fashions that went out of style a year or more ago, but yet, they are brand new. When you look at them, you know something is wrong with the picture, but you can't quite put your finger on it.

Even their hairstyles are a bit odd. They go to hairdressers who graduated from the hair academy ten years ago and never kept up with the new styles, so they have been relegated to the "el cheapo" salons.

You know who I'm talking about. We all know at least one person who has been stricken with the chronic shopper or "bargain hunter" disease, the source of wedding presents in this system that we just can't seem to understand.

Return to top