I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
Have you heard of Harry and David? They sell extremely expensive holiday gift boxes, and a coworker has just put out the first of their catalogs I’ve seen this year. Several things struck me as I flipped through it:
- Gifts Under $50. They have lots of blurbs saying something along the lines of “You won’t see a better gift under $50!” But by “under $50,” they mean $49.95. That alone struck me as if not sleazy, pretty close to it. They say that often throughout the catalog, making it seem like you could get this great deal on gift boxes, when in reality tax and shipping & handling will bring your total well over their advertised “under” price.
- Copy-writing. The copy writing makes me gag, truly it does. Try this on for size:
A scrumptious upgrade for fall desserting. (Oh, my, it’s good!)
We’ve married the homey, earthy spices of a traditional pumpkin pie with the sensuous, velvety richness of our fabulous French chocolate. And once you and your friends try it, we believe you’ll surrender to the pleasure. Sure, it’s an outrageous indulgence. But hey: The holidays will be here before you know it!
Is this a food catalog or a romance novel?! Scrumptious, sensuous, velvety richness, and outrageous indulgence all have distinctly romance-novel-esque overtones — and believe me, I know romance novels. The logic is also typically romance novel: How does the holidays coming justify purchasing what they acknowledge to be an outrageous indulgence?
- Colon use. The occasional colon really can improve a sentence. But this catalog uses two or more colons per page (I counted), and they start standing out after a while. Similarly, every page sports approximately a half-dozen M-dashes. Find some other punctuation, people!
All that aside, you probably want to sit down before checking the prices. Everything costs a fortune, so although you get your money’s worth in the flowery prose, I doubt the gift box itself has the same value. I think I’ll stick to my usual World Vision-based Christmas gifts and pass on what looks like the food equivalent of a $1,000 whore.