The other week, I wrote about a bunch of things that I always wanted, but never felt quite cool enough to own. And as I pointed out, this wasn't a function of low self-esteem; I really don't think most people are cool enough to own these items. Most of them were highly stylized items from an earlier time, like fedoras, flasks, and old-fashioned Smith Corona typewriters -- items that look cool as s**t in a film noir and were commonplace in the '40s and '50s, but now cannot be used without screaming "Hi, I'm a hipster douchebag who is trying wayyyyyy too hard!"
"Actually, this is a trilby, not a fedora. Fedoras are so last year."
Anyway, there is apparently no shortage of things I don't feel cool enough to own that have nothing to do with items you'd find in a Raymond Chandler detective novel. So here are five of them. Five possessions that only the rarest of people can justify owning.
You ever see these things? Not quite diaries. They don't sell them at Kmart. We're talking about a fancy-ass leather-bound book filled with thick, white, blank pages. The kind of thing they sell in stores that have globes and telescopes. The stores where everything is laid out with seemingly careless but excruciatingly exact precision to create the feeling that you've just made a purchase capable of unlocking a terrible fantasy movie about a watch that can stop time or a telescope that sees alien ghosts. In any event, I'm really not sure who these books are for. What do you put in it?
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Cooking recipes? Seems a bit much.
Quite simply, the book looks important. It's designed to hold important things, and the unlined silky paper screams out for calligraphy. But in the real world, what person is capable of generating content that would be suitable for such a container? No one. I mean, I suppose if you were able to spit out the great American novel, with no revision, in beautiful handwriting, then sure, go ahead, purchase this book and get right to work. But it seems to me anything short of that is just bastardizing your purchase. It's like buying an ornate, bejeweled egg cup and sticking a Weeble in it.
Who Can Get Away With It?
Dumbledore, Gandalf, or any other certified wizard who needs to record spells for posterity via ink and the feather quill from a magical bird.
Booze can be a lovely thing -- I mean, provided it doesn't conspire with your body chemistry to force you into a life of painful addiction, damaging you and your loved ones -- but aside from that small thing? Good times. Oh, and driving drunk. That sucks, too. But at some point in our history, people decided it wasn't classy enough to just keep liquor in a bottle. You had to transfer it into a fancier container. Why? Not sure. Maybe they felt that if you're pouring booze out of fancy crystal, it's easier to convince yourself that your 3 p.m. whiskey habit is less a sign of addiction and more like sort of grown-up high tea.
Thank you, Jeeves. Now bring me my gold thimble of heroin.
But here's the problem with those lovely bottles, in addition to taking extra work because you have to fill the decanter, wasting the precious time you could have used to swig directly from the brown-bagged bottle: They're also pointless. Wine benefits from being decanted; most liquor does not. It's true that you can hide an inexpensive whiskey in a nice glass bottle so that your guests are not aware they're being served a cheap brand. But who wants to be the sort of douche who invites friends over, makes a display of class, and then tries to fake out their taste buds by serving Wild Turkey while pretending it's Johnnie Walker Blue? Oh, and some of them give you lead poisoning, so there's that.
The other problem with decanters is that they expect brand loyalty. You can't mix the bottle of Jack Daniels with the good scotch you got as a birthday present. So unless you'll only be purchasing and accepting one specific label for life, you're always going to have several bottles of other stuff lying around your perfect decanter anyway. Unless, like, you get multiple decanters?
So given all the above, who would go to the effort of trying to impress you with their fancy-ass decanter? Someone who thinks everything must be raised to the level of the ornate. The kind of dude who monograms his condoms to impress the $1,000 an hour prostitute he's procured.
Who Can Get Away With It?
I dunno, a Bond villain. Maybe?
These were big in the '80s, and by big I mean I guess a few douchebags wore them. They are glasses based on the premise that the human eye cannot exist in the world unless it is completely obscured from the insane penetrating rays of the sun. If you don't know what I'm talking about, good. But I'm talking about these:
Are you shivering yet? That's the douche chills going to work!
Now, I've heard that variations on these have become big in the steampunk community. I say I've heard, instead of seen, because I keep meaning to go to steampunk parties, but actually having sex and fun keep on getting in the way. So let me be clear. No one is cool enough to own these sunglasses on a normal day. There is no scenario in the 21st century where you must block any and all light contact with your eye if you are not suffering from some ocular malady.
Who Can Get Away With It?
In the year 2416, when the sun goes into supernova and the remaining mutant humans find shelter on the new planet of Rylos 7, whose sun is too powerful for our biology, then anyone. Any one of those people, and only those people, may wear these sunglasses.
In terms of becoming a man, shaving is up there with helping a stranded extra-terrestrial call home or discovering a dead body in the woods. (Hi, I'm from the '80s, how are you?) I learned to shave with an old-fashioned razor that had blades you swapped out. And after the first few times of bleeding and crying, I bought disposable blades like every other good American who hates the environment. I mean, look, if I'm gonna cut myself shaving, the least I can do is take the planet down with me, right?
But some men are not content with the level of manliness that comes from running a couple of blades embedded in plastic across their face. And they're not interested in electric razors that at best look like they're made for a woman's legs or at worst look like some sort of marital aid. No, these men understand that shaving, like bare-knuckle boxing, is a rite of passage that demands blood. Enter the straight razor:
Tell the truth. Are you thinking about shaving or violent murder?
Straight razors, sharpened on a strap of leather, hold the promise of so much more than the death of stubble. They imply entry into a level of masculinity reserved for John Wayne or Vito Corleone. And with them comes the eternal promise that if you needed to, during your dull morning ablutions on your way to your office cubicle, you could slit a man's throat. The problem with a straight razor, however, is that the throat will most likely be your own.
If you have the time and skill and patience to use your straight razor, then hey, great, I'm sure you really will get a sensational shave. Then again, you could also spend all day mowing your lawn with a pair of golden scissors. What are you trying to prove?
Who Can Get Away With It?
1920s gangsters and ... nope, that's just about it.
Y'know what's cool? Murdering people, like specifically stabbing them to death. Well, I mean, I guess that's actually awful and not cool at all, but what if I told you that before you stabbed the person you could make your knife do cool tricks? Behold, the butterfly knife, named after the 18th century winged badass who invented it: Nigel T. Butterfly.
Here, Nigel considers chewing a young girl's toes off before stabbing her.
See, the neat thing about butterfly knives is that they have two metal casings that cover the blade (just like real butterflies) so that you can put it in your pocket without bleeding to death. Then those casings pull back and become the knife's handle. And the best part is you can make the knife do tricks and spin around and stuff. It's like a yo-yo that you can use for murder.
And that's kind of the point of why you really can't own one, because why the hell do you need a knife that you can carry covertly and brandish with a flourish? Oh, right. To make cool videos.
Did you see the coolness? Did this gentleman have the requisite cool-osity to make the magic happen with his sharp swirly violence? Of course not. But don't tool on him too much. Virtually no one does.
Who Can Get Away With It?A straight up psychopath who uses it for murder, but also has a whimsical flair for the dramatic.
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