I mentioned a while back that the missus and I were planning -- and replanning, and cursing, and re-replanning -- to catch a Caribbean cruise this week. We finally did, with a bit of Planes, Trains and Automobile-ish adventure, and we're settling in nicely to our new lives of sunburn, thousand-year-olds and frozen alcoholic beverages. Not necessarily in that order.
(Also, we're Sea Monkeys, which pretty much supersedes everything above. When you've watched John Scalzi sing a karaoke version of a song inspired by his book, with the music supplied live by Jonathan Coulton (and band), who wrote and perform said song, it's "meta" enough to make you wonder what the hell else is really real, anyway. Except the frozen margaritas.
Also, John Hodgman apparently held a Q & A session in a midship hot tub yesterday. So there's that.)
In preparation for this trip -- and my wife's Valentine birthday; no pressure -- I decided to get her a present related to the trip. As opposed to the wool socks and new snow shovel I thought of getting her, in response to the two-foot-of-snow blizzard we left on Monday. I settled on one of those Pandora charms they talk about on the TV all the time. She just received a Pandora bracelet for Christmas from her mother, so I figured I'd jump in and help her fill it up with sparkly trinkets, because that's apparently all the rage now and who am I to argue at Valentine's time?
"The minigolf course on the top deck is clearly missing on the bauble, as are the lifeboats and other details. Also, there aren't three hundred shirtless old coots sunning their leathery backs poolside."
So I went online to the Pandora site and picked out a nice little metal beady thing in the shape of a ship. It's not our ship, exactly. The minigolf course on the top deck is clearly missing on the bauble, as are the lifeboats and other details. Also, there aren't three hundred shirtless old coots sunning their leathery backs poolside.
(I'd be impressed if there were. Pretty frightened, obviously. But also impressed.)
Still, a ship is a ship, and this one seemed like a good addition to her modest bourgeois bracelet bead collection, and a shot at a few easy Valentine's points for me. So I decided to buy it, right there, on the website.
Only the website said "no". "Silly child," it chided. "You do not buy sparkly pebbles from me. You must travel in person to a store, where sales staff will make you feel further small and unsophisticated. Only then will the magic of Pandora beads be available to you."
Fine. There happens to be a Pandora store in the mall where I park, so one day after work I escalated up there and went looking for the little boat bead from the website. A meticulously groomed woman greeted me in the store and asked how she could be of the utmost assistance. I told her, in terms as specific as I could manage:
"I'm, uh, looking for the little boat bead. From the website."
She cocked an eyebrow, channeling her inner Zha-Zha. "Ze 'leetle boat bead'?"
Funny. She hadn't had a snooty French accent a second ago. I assured her that the little boat bead was indeed my goal.
"Do zhou mean," she dripped, "zhe 'All Aboard' zignature zilver charm?"
Apparently, I guess. Sure, let's go with that.
"Ve are out of zat charm."
Wait... 'out'? How can you be 'out'?
"Ve have zold all current stock in zat design."
But these are charms we're talking about. These are not wall prints or couches or Ford freaking Escalades. How can you run out of stock?
"Ve do not have room in ze store for all designs at all times, sir."
You sell a hundred charms, each the size of a generous spitball. That's all you sell. Your entire inventory would fit inside a fricking shoe box, for crissakes. What gives, suddenly-French lady?
"I can interest sir in zome ozzer design, perhaps? A rose bud, or a keetty cat?"
I told her she could take her rose bud and keetty cat, string them together, and shove them where the Moulin Rouge don't shine. I don't think I'm going to be allowed back in that particular establishment for a tres long time, I fear.
Meanwhile, I found some other Valentine's gifts for the missus. And maybe I'll find zomewhere -- er, somewhere -- else to pick up the boat bauble. Some Pandora store that knows how to keep their shoe box stocked -- and keeps their beads 'all aboard'.
Calm seas, sailor folk.