Cover Story: Mall-Free and Loving It

Internet shopping these days goes waaaay beyond the basics

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Ryan Greis



No parking hassles. No traffic jams. No Chick-Fil-A. Sbarro? Uh-Uh.

There's no trip to the mall for me. This Christmas, I'm doing my shopping online.

In case you haven't heard, everything that you could legally want is available online, and then some. And with online shopping — providing you have access to the Internet at work — you can find all of your Christmas gifts while you're on the clock. Yeah, shop while you stick it to your boss.

Your basic, run-of-the-mill gifts are easy to find on the Internet: books, CDs, athletic footwear, sweaters and various lubricants.

It's all there. Between them,

 
Ryan Greis



No parking hassles. No traffic jams. No Chick-Fil-A. Sbarro? Uh-Uh.

There's no trip to the mall for me. This Christmas, I'm doing my shopping online.

In case you haven't heard, everything that you could legally want is available online, and then some. And with online shopping — providing you have access to the Internet at work — you can find all of your Christmas gifts while you're on the clock. Yeah, shop while you stick it to your boss.

Your basic, run-of-the-mill gifts are easy to find on the Internet: books, CDs, athletic footwear, sweaters and various lubricants.

It's all there. Between them, amazon.com, jcrew.com and fetishwerks.com could probably fulfill most of your shopping needs. If you're looking for gifts that are vintage, exotic or merely stupid, however, read on.

Since nothing says "happy holidays" like a bleached wildebeest skull, I began my Christmas shopping at www.maxillaandmandible.com. At $360 a head, the wildebeest is the Cadillac of animal skulls. But if that's too pricey, the noggins of beavers, raccoons and Hudson Bay sables can be had for less than $60, shipping and handling included. Also available are butterflies, seashells and, if you desire a pre-Christian stocking stuffer, 350-million-year-old trilobite fossils.

Christmas is all about miracles, and so it's only fitting that miracle meat should find its way into someone's Christmas stocking. Head over to www.spam.com for a surprisingly hip celebration of one of the most disgusting food products ever created. Along with great gift ideas, like SPAM® underwear, overalls, golf tees and minnow lures, you get the story of SPAM: "Long ago in a galaxy far away, a place called Minnesota to be exact, one of the great wonders of the universe emerged. The year? 1937. The wonder? The birth of SPAM® luncheon meat."

Since people insist on making them, you've probably got some children on your shopping list. This can be tough, since most kids these days are exclusively interested in eating Doritos, getting high and listening to violent and misogynistic Pop music. Fortunately, there's www.liberace.com. The only reason most kids love Gangsta Rap is because they've never been exposed to "Mr. Showmanship." For starters, I recommend the Leapin' Lizards, It's Liberace video. And once you've got a full-blown Liberace fan on your hands, you might want to order The Young Liberace Mouse Pad or a When I Grow Up I Want to Play the Piano Like Liberace T-shirt, the perfect gift for those particularly effeminate grandsons and nephews.

Bargain hunters already know about www.ebay.com, the online auction site. Searching through eBay, you'll find all sorts of items that you didn't even know you wanted but that you won't be able to live without. Just don't buy too much for yourself.

Without a doubt there's something on eBay for everyone on your list. What football fan could resist a 9-inch Fully Pose-able Vince Lombardi Action Figure or a 1950s Super Electric Football game? What collector of porcelain kitchen items wouldn't want a pair of smiling, sperm-shaped salt & pepper shakers?

Look at the gems just in the "Stevens" category: Spanish postcards of Connie Stevens; an autographed 8-by-10 of Stella Stevens; a VHS copy of Body Chemistry 3: Point of Seduction, starring Andrew Stevens.

Do you know anyone who collects Underoos, the underwear that's fun to wear? I'm happy to say I don't. But if I did, I could set them up with a vintage pair of Hulk or Wonder Woman at rock-bottom prices.

So what about those people on your list (i.e., in-laws) for whom you have to buy presents but to whom you'd also like to subtly express your contempt? Fear not, a trip to www.hickoryfarms.com offers gifts that say, "It's the thought that counts, and this is how little I care." Imagine the strained smiles when your "loved ones" open up their Hickory Farms Beef & Cheese Crate or the Fruitful Tower filled with baklava (blecch!) and prosaic red apples. Watch with glee as they feign enthusiasm over a nutted cheese log. Woo-hee!

The old saying "It's better to give than receive" might hold true only when a Hickory Farms product is involved, but at least with Internet technology, it's getting easier to give. I've been mall-free since 1999, and holiday shopping has never been so easy. ©

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