Subourbon Mom


The Buzz About Brookstone’s Catalog

About two days ago I realized I was in deep trouble. I don’t mean trouble like I’m going to jail for hacking into Sony, or for thinking out loud that Odell Beckham isn’t the Second Coming. I’m in trouble because there is no way I’m going to get everything done before December 24th.

This working full-time thing has given me a new respect for the moms and dads that make it all happen–how they manage to decorate their houses so that it looks like Christmas threw up in their house is beyond me. So this year I took to ordering from catalogs. One of the catalogs we received in the mail was from Brookstone. For those of you who haven’t seen the inside of a mall in the last ten years, Brookstone is a mall store that sells quirky, high-tech gifts like wireless gummy bear lights and snorkel masks with waterproof cameras attached.

They also sell personal massagers.

Now y’all, when I think of personal massagers, I think of winning the lottery and having a handsome Swede (a la Alexander Skaarsgaard) rubbing my poor, aching muscles after a long workout at the gym. Brookstone clearly does not share my vision of what a personal massage should be.

Brookstone has been selling these massagers for years. The catalog pictures usually feature a pretty lady in a towel gently running this massager that looks like—well, let’s say like a microphone, over her shoulder or neck. Like I said, not my idea of a personal massage.591867p

The personal massagers in the catalog are also waterproof. My idea of a personal massage is not waterproof—but if I was to have a waterproof personal massager, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking something like that into the shower with me for fear of being electrocuted—unless it was the Swede.

This year, Brookstone has expanded their collection, and it’s really rubbing me the wrong way. In fact, I can’t understand why there hasn’t been more buzz about it. This year, Brookstone is offering several types of personal massagers. In fact, there are too many to talk about here, but if you look online, you will be amazed. Trust me.

The ones in my catalog tended to be in pastel colors, shaped like an egg, and like the others, are waterproof. One of them even has a “porcelain-like finish.” But here’s the interesting part: they can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone, and by more than one person. Now, I’ve been to a lot of orthopedic-related doctors and physical therapists, and I never saw any of them break out one of those babies during an appointment. I’ve certainly never seen a someone remotely activating a shoulder massager for someone else. I’m just sayin’…

Now, I don’t mind that Brookstone is selling these personal massagers—way to go Brookstone, making pleasure available to the masses. What I mind is that they are in stores for people to pick up and fondle, like they do all the other merchandise. There’s already something disturbing about seeing a bunch of people sitting in the massage chairs with their eyes closed, all washed out under the glaring store lights–never mind that 50 other people have sat there before them, greasy hair resting on the same, vibrating pillows. brookstone_shopper_in_massage_chair_in_argentinaI definitely do not want to see these same people handling personal massagers—especially if it’s my Swede.



Laughter–A Gift Wrapped in Toilet Paper

images-8Last weekend we attended the annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that the stately Montpelier event has always provided me with literary fodder. One election year, I was interviewed in my inebriated condition by an Irish news channel about my thoughts on what it’s like to live in a swing state (see “Schwing State”). Last year, Hubby had an “accident” in the parking lot that involved road rage and karma sent straight from the animal world (see “Traffic Martyrs & Sliders” and “Chipmunk Popsicles”).

This year, I was given a gift. It wasn’t wrapped in Wal-mart Christmas paper with a stick-on bow, or delivered in a turquoise Tiffany box, but it was a gift that I think is priceless—it was a bend-over-because–you-can’t-breathe-oh-my-God-I’m-crying-belly laugh.

Maybe it happened because it’s been a difficult couple of months; maybe it was the wine; or, maybe it happened because sometimes there are just those moments in life that come together to make the perfect storm of funny at the time. Either way, I’m grateful.

My friends Stacie*, Helen* and I were walking back to the tailgate after shopping among the vendors. Helen is single and younger than Stacie and I, and still cares what other people think about how she looks, and about retaining her dignity. We’d watched Helen try on hats, agonizing over gray or brown, feathers or not, and by the time we left the area, I was long past caring about hats, and more concerned with getting back to place our bets on the next race. Halfway there, we made a pit stop at the port-a-johns.

Helen is also a slow learner—despite knowing me for several years now, she still made the crucial mistake of telling me how much she HATES using port-a-johns.

While we were waiting, a guy came out and said, with his eyes watering like he’d been cutting an onion, “I know they’re not supposed to be great, but that was awful!”

“Why? Did someone take a crap in there?” I asked, trying to find something to say.

He looked at me in pure wonderment and nodded. “Who does that in one of those?” he whispered, and walked away.

Helen’s eyes bugged out and she looked like she might bolt, but somehow she summoned her courage and went in anyway. Must have been all those beers–liquid courage, on so many levels.

As soon as Helen was inside, Stacie and I looked at each other, grinned and took action. Stacie went to the back and I went to the front of Helen’s port-a-john, and we banged on the walls like the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse were thundering by.

Helen screamed.

Stacie and I ran, hiding around the corner. Predictably, Helen came storming out of the port-a-john, strutting her angry 5-foot-3-self across the field.

As she yelled at us and pointed her finger, we couldn’t help but double over laughing—

Helen, jaunty new brown hat slightly askew, was trailing a 3-foot ribbon of toilet paper from her shoe.

While it may be a location joke (you had to be there), to us, it was funny.

When you’re an adult, these moments don’t come nearly as often as they do when you’re a kid. Kids know how to belly laugh, and they don’t care who sees them or how loud they are. As adults, we may occasionally have those laughing fits that make you cry, but we usually try to hide them behind our hands or we leave the room. This time, I didn’t do either. I let out my full-throttle laugh, which as you may know, is pretty freakin’ loud. I’m sure people were staring, appalled at our behavior at such a dignified event—and I don’t care. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and it was wonderful.

So thank you Helen, for sacrificing your dignity (albeit unwillingly). And thanks to Stacie, who laughed right along with me. Gifts don’t always arrive with a card and a song—sometimes they arrive on a ribbon of toilet paper.

*Names have been changed to protect my friends’ professional images. Now, if we could just get rid of all those pictures with red cups…




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