After years of Dustin groaning about my stash of knitting supplies and yarn (and my habit of buying new shoes once a year), I had an opportunity to show him that it could be worse. You could call this priming. I call it making conversation.
First, I showed him a picture of a tin can that retails for $1,000. Yes, $1,000. It’s a sterling silver “tin can” and one of 69 items in Tiffany’s new “Everyday Objects” line. (“Everyday” like a $1,000 can of carrots that has lost its label?)
“How much do you think this is?” I asked Dustin after dinner one night, shoving the picture of the tin can between his eyes and the newspaper he was reading.
“Fifty cents,” he guessed, and he went back to reading his paper.
Keep in mind that my husband is one of the most frugal people I know. He does not like to throw out anything — not ever! — that might possibly be reused, and he thinks jeans should cost $25 max. He has worn the same shoes for more than a decade, and when I buy a new purse, he thinks that should be my purse for the next 20 years. He is fond of saying, “OK, so you don’t need another one of those for a really long time, right?”
I just say, “Right,” and carry on, because Dustin doesn’t always have a realistic idea of how much anything costs in real life. But, well, Tiffany’s collection is not real life, even if it is called “Everyday.”
“The tin can is not 50 cents,” I told him. “It’s $1,000.”
Dustin dropped his paper. “A tin can?”
It was like his entire world had just blown up. The look of despair on his face reminded me of when we were shopping for our first stroller 17 years ago. After Dustin saw the price tag, he asked the part-time sales associate if it came with airbags, too. The kid thought Dustin was joking. He really wasn’t. It hurt Dustin deep within his soul to shell out that kind of money for a stroller, even if it would hold our first precious son.
Dustin shook his head about the tin can, and then he went back to reading his paper. So I showed him the ball of yarn, which is actually a sterling silver replica of a ball of yarn.
“How much for this?” I asked.
“$100,” Dustin said, having learned a little bit from the tin can.
Dustin at first looked confused. Then he looked angry. In fact, he looked like a child who just realized that the Tooth Fairy forgot him the night before. (Speaking of: we could straighten a whole set of teeth with braces for less than $9,000.) So, of course, I used the moment to add this: “My stash of yarn doesn’t even come close to $9,000. Phew. Looks like I’m not such a bad wife after all.”
This is when I could have asked for a new car or a pony, anything except a $9,000 fake ball of yarn.
The Internet mostly responded to Tiffany’s Everyday Objects the same way Dustin did. From Huffington Post calling the collection “trolling” to Golf Digest writing that “Tiffany’s is selling a $1,000 tin can because it beats simply lighting the money on fire,” no one here on Planet Earth seems to think $95 china cups made to look like paper cups are relevant — especially because in the photo online, the bone china apparently leaves a coffee ring underneath it! The china cups also are not microwave or dishwasher safe, which means they belong in the same place where toddler clothes that need to be ironed belong. I don’t know where that is, just that it’s not in my house.
My favorite thing (and by “favorite” I mean it makes me hate everything about our consumer culture) in the Everyday Objects collection is the Crazy Straw, which comes in a choice of sterling silver, vermeil and rose vermeil. Prices range from $250-350. If you’ve ever been to a child’s birthday party, you know what these straws are fashioned after: the cheap plastic straws with loops in them that tend to find their way into children’s party favor bags. I always thought the cheap variety was the biggest rip off ever, because once a child puts chocolate milk through the looping straw, there is no way to clean it. Then I saw the $350 vermeil one at Tiffany’s. And then, of course, I saw Tiffany’s sterling silver and walnut building blocks (aka Legos) for $1,500, and pretty much nothing could seem more unreasonable ever.
All of my shock aside, however, I’m not going to let this go. I do want a new dress. So I used Tiffany’s “Drop a Hint” feature online, where you can send wished-for items to someone’s email, and sent it to Dustin. The auto email reads: “Dear Dustin, we heard that a sterling silver ice cream scoop is at the top of Sarah’s wish list this year and we thought you’d want to know. Just a little holiday hint from your friends at Tiffany.”
When he sees that, nothing else will seem expensive.
— Sarah R. Smiley is a syndicated columnist with ties to the Puget Sound region. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.