Thursday, September 11, 2008

101 Ways to be an A$$h@(e

It's been a few days since my last post, and I can't promise that this one will be terribly long, but I felt that I had to write something after a fluke visit to a Yaletown baby accessory store on Tuesday - and accessory seemed to be the operative word. For those who don't live in the lap of the Lower Mainland of BC, Yaletown is a toney district in downtown Vancouver. It used to be an industrial area many years ago where a lot of manufacturing used to take place. When the factories left, the buildings stayed and were soon converted into lofts and "hip" shops. Mix in Vancouver's urban densification boom and sprinkle on some real estate super-inflation and you've got a perfect mix of $7 latte sipping twits and oversized sunglass wearing knobs trying desperately for people to notice how cool they think they are. My wife had gone to an appointment in the area and so I took our daughter for a stroll down the too narrow sidewalks past some wannabe trendy for the sake of trendy boutiques until I happened across one that purported to be a baby store. Thinking it couldn't hurt to see what new might be out there, or whether some as yet undiscovered by me toy may inhabit the innermost depths of said shop, I ventured in. Once inside I had yet another experience that has been played out between my wife and I over the past year and a half of being parents: I got really pissed off by the cost of the crap that no kid could ever freaking care about in this stupid store. Now let me be clear as I say that I have no problem spending the money for quality items as long as there is a value in that item. But a $295 Paul Frank "rocking thing" is a joke! Come on! It was a sheet of freaking fibreboard machine pressed into a taco and a laminate veneer of monkey heads on the underside! This is ridiculous - I know you pay a premium for a name brand, but last time I checked, drawing a cartoon monkey head doesn't give you license to charge the general public hundreds of dollars for a piece of bent laminated wood. The next overpriced toy I saw was a wooden jobbie that was very nicely made and featured some rolling cars, it also featured a lick of paint that informed buyers that it was a french company in existence "depuis 1911." For those not acquainted with the french tongue, that means "since 1911." The toy was valued near the $100 mark - all I could think was how much had they charged in 1911?

This is not an old complaint. We've all seen the proud as peacock mothers and fathers out there gathering at coffee shops everywhere practically revving the engines on their $1000 and $1500 strollers - push-chairs with the seats so high up they look like they're walking their babies around on barstools. My wife and I didn't scrimp on our stroller, we bought a new one with a new infant seat in a reasonably cool color - we thought it looked reasonably cool. When you are spending $1200 on a stroller however, it has nothing to do with your child and everything to do with you! Many years ago, one would walk down Robson Street in Vancouver on a Friday or Saturday night, and at the kitty corner Starbucks at Thurlow Street, one could gaze upon the the long row of gleaming chrome glinting off the dozen and a half Harleys lining the street outside the coffee shop as packs of middle aged wankers relived their youth while sipping a foamy cup of, what was at its core, joe. Today the bikes have been traded in and their wives are now crowding the streets with their newest accessories: their babies' accessories!

Not long after the birth of our first child, my wife and I were walking through Holt Renfrew trying as it might in its new digs to be Harvey Nicks. We walked past the mannequins and the middle aged botoxed women who bore an uncanny resemblance to mannequins and into the Burberry section. My wife pointed out a Burberry pram, and suggested I might like to buy it, knowing my aversion to spending frivolously. I answered that it certainly would save me time having to tell people I was an a$$h@le. It certainly would have saved me time telling anyone in the store in Yaletown that I was - of course the too cool saleswoman would have actually had to look up from her lunch of water to see that I was one of them.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Children's clothing drives me crazy. I don't understand why anyone would pay $100 for a shirt for a 6 month old. Sure, it's cute, but not $100 cute! I tell myself all the time that I wouldn't spend the money on crazy expensive toys/clothes/shoes for my son, even if I did have the money. Like you said, there are certain things I paid more for, (car seat, stroller) but it was for quality. Not for a name or to be a cool hip Mom. Which I am so not. I'm a dork. Ha! Besides, I figure I turned out okay, aside from the dorkiness. So if my son doesn't have that really expensive toy, outfit, shoes, or diaper bag...I think he'll survive!

Downtown Toronto = Full of crazy expensive baby stores.