Guilty Pleasures, not including a Kate Middleton Royal Wedding doll

kate middleton royal wedding dollThe other day my wife Megan asked me about guilty pleasures. Though I count each joie de vivre as a precious child and readily own them, several that made me pause, if only for a second:

· Vanilla lattes from Starbucks, especially in airports. Please don’t judge me.
· Young adult fantasy fiction without vampires. I just finished Gregor the Overlander and The Alchemyst.
· Online shopping. I am a ninja.

Mind you, men don’t shop, we snipe. I stalk across the world wide web in a virtual Gilly suit. I pick off desirable items with great precision and purpose.

Like the guy at the buffet who makes sure that he gets his money’s worth, I want the online retailers to make as little money off me as possible. They never know what hit them. 50% off. Free shipping. Promo codes. Discounts.

I am a coupon fiend. Sure, I’ll sign up for your emails for $25 off my first order. And then I’ll unsubscribe from the first one you send. Why? Because this was a one night stand, J. Crew. I needed ties for my groomsmen, that is all. Otherwise, I’ll see you on eBay.

Before making any purchase online, I do a Google search for “company name promo code.” I’m surprised that other people don’t bother.

Only suckers pay full price.

At the very least, I’ll get free shipping.

Free next-day shipping is why I love Zappos. Though I don’t buy many shoes, I do love the surprise email informing me that I received a free upgrade to next-day shipping. Zappos also pays for return shipping via UPS.

Tony Hsieh gets it. Everybody told him that people wouldn’t buy shoes online without trying them on. He took all the financial risk out of it with free return shipping, and the free next-day delivers on the instant gratification factor: white boxes waiting next to people’s front doors when they get home from work.

In other words, Hsieh made it easier and less expensive to buy online than to make the trip down to the local shoe store.

That being said, support your local mom-and-pop shoe store. Zappo’s will survive, but Sneaker Barn probably won’t.

I hadn’t ordered a cool pair of sneakers in maybe five years, so I finally coughed up $65 for a pair of Superga 2750 Classics in Sage Grey after reading a blog post about them.

The Euro size 42 didn’t fit, and Zappo’s was out of 43s. No problem. I returned that pair to Zappo’s, free of charge, and turned to my handy MacBook Pro.

My favorite new online clothing company, Bonobos—“favorite” meaning “one pair of pants purchased at $50 off”—had the right size.

Here’s the fun part: I did another internet search looking for special promotions and found that signing up for the Bonobos e-newsletter would get me $50 off an order of $100 or more. I used a new email address to create a new account, then picked out a new shirt to tip the order over $100. With the discount and free shipping, my order came to $70. The shoes were $65, so that meant that the shirt cost me $5, for a discount of 90% off the original $55 price tag.

I know geeking out over online sniping makes me “special,” and I know what you’re saying: “Aren’t coupons just a marketing gimmick, you ask? Haven’t you even written on the subject, Austin?”

Yes and yes.

My compromise: Don’t settle for less than 40% and sleep on it. If you don’t remember to buy it in the morning, then you probably didn’t really want it. It was probably an impulse buy. Coupons cause impulse buys. They impair judgment. They lower inhibitions. Online coupons are like electronic beer. Use with caution.

Speaking of impulse buys, I was fixing broken links on my blog the other day and ran across one of the worst products in history.

I love bad products. This one is a Kate Middleton Royal Wedding doll.

I understand the hype. This is the first time a “royal” has married a “commoner” in the U.K. since 1660—a rare and historic occasion. Princess Diana’s death thrust William and Harry into the limelight at a young age, and the paparazzi haven’t given them a moment’s rest ever since. The media darling seems to genuinely love Kate, and they looked genuinely happy on their wedding day. A sweetness and giddiness was evident in their glances and couple of kisses that seemed to have nothing to do with a billion spectators watching on television.

I say “seemed” because I don’t know them and wasn’t invited to the wedding. The couple’s publicist has since apologized for this oversight.

Kate Middleton is living a Cinderella story, and I hope that the happily ever after is just that. Millions of sterling pounds, palaces, and epaulettes aside, William and Kate are people just like me. I want for them what I want for myself: wholeness, peace, hope, trust, and intimacy. May they find deep pleasure in one another and in God.

That being said, this ridiculous doll is vinyl. A painted plastic water bottle. It’s not even porcelain.

How much is Franklin Mint charging for this piece of rubbish?


How about I keep my money and yank my toenails out one by one instead? That would be a better deal.

Exact replica of her wedding dress. Sparkling scroll tiara. Hand-applied something or others. Who cares. These voodoo poppets will end up in a landfill just like Snuggies, Buzz Lightyear Funtime Tumblers, and Hug Me Pillows.

I wish I’d thought of that stupid doll first. I’d make enough money to buy the palace next door to William and Kate. We’d grill out and play croquet. My son Thunder Wolf could marry their daughter Elizabeth. I could be William’s Lionel Logue.


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