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Some not-so-smart shopping


What’s the dumbest thing you ever bought?

Take a minute to decide: What item, whether purchased for yourself

or another, has made you feel the most idiotic in retrospect?


This isn’t a contest. The winner doesn’t get anything, and I

should add, perhaps, that the winner doesn’t get rid of anything.

It’s just an aid to memory as you plan your upcoming shopping, so you

can avoid a past pitfall or two.


One of these pitfalls is to buy outside your area of expertise.

For instance, I can’t buy good clothes for myself or anyone else.

When dressed up in my bachelor days, I was told I looked like a neon

sign with a few lights burnt out. Once, and only once, I bought a

girlfriend a dress. She didn’t like it, and worse, she couldn’t get

into it.

Music. It can be tough to buy for others here, but surely you

should be able to buy for yourself. And yet, on my CD shelf, among


other incomprehensibles, I find Bernard Herrmann’s music from

“Psycho.” What was I thinking? How many times was I going to sing

along to that?

Moving up closer to No. 1, I once bought 500 shares in a company

that was going to make hermetic airplane seats, so if your plane

crashed and burned on takeoff or landing, you could sit in it

unharmed and walk away afterward. For some reason the airlines never

adopted these large, expensive bio cubes. I still have the


certificate, in case the universe turns on its ear.

But to qualify as the dumbest ever, I think the item has to be so

big you can’t get rid of it. And as I look back over a lifetime of

50-pound punching bags and previously owned vehicles, one purchase

stands out. In fact, it stands right outside. It’s the clubhouse.

When I was a kid, I saw one of those tall wooden mini-forts in

which you and your buddies could have secret meetings and repel

invaders. I begged my parents for one -- thinking they were made of

money, I believe, is the expression they used.

Well, I couldn’t get one when I was 6, and I couldn’t get my son

one when he was 6.

But when my daughter was 7 we went out to Aliso Viejo, where they

were having a sale on clubhouses. I said to her, “Do you want this

clubhouse?” and she said, “Sure.”

It had a slide on it and a little ladder and a little picnic table


Well, it looks good out in the yard, but it turns out that Katie

didn’t need it. She went in it a few times, and that was it. To her,

it’s basically an outdoor closet that leaks.

Even sadder, I only go in it about twice a year. And then I don’t

stay. There’s no electricity, and my buddies are mostly back in the

Midwest and married.

The moral is, I guess, that if you get something for someone else

and it’s really for yourself, make sure it’s for your present self.

Someday, though, before it starts raining again, I intend to climb

up there one afternoon and read my old stock certificate while I

listen to the music from “Psycho.” Just to get my money’s worth.

* SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four

novels, three of which were critically acclaimed.