Illustration by Bob AulHORSE LEECH
COST: $14. WHERE TO GET IT: Land of Lakes Bait, P.O. Box 474, Watersmeet, MI 49969, (906) 358-4155; www.lolbait.com.
Unique and exotic? Check. Low-maintenance? Check. Affectionate? Check, check and check! Meet the horse leech, the gift that keeps on sucking—and it can't wait to cuddle up next to that special someone! Leeches and people haven't always been the bosomest of buddies—consider the infamous what's-that-wriggling-in-my-underpants? scene in Stand By Me, or an incident in 19th-century Africa in which French troops who drank muddy water gagged to death when sneaky, blood-swollen leeches clogged their throats. But unlike teenagers or Frenchmen, responsible pet owners need not worry. If not ingested or inserted into any inappropriate orifices, a horse leech can offer what other pets can't: real dependence, loyalty and love. Cats don't care if you ever come home and dogs will make out with anyone holding a can opener. Not so the leech! When you put your face right up to that aquarium and see that little mouth desperately gnawing at the glass, you can't help but feel that something out there really needs you. So don't be squeamish: thanks to a natural anesthetic, a leech bite—we like to think of it as a "kiss"—is completely painless. Pucker up!
8-FOOT HAND-CARVED WOODEN TIKI
COST: $3,200; $98-$210 for three-day rental. WHERE TO GET IT: Oceanic Arts, 12414 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, CA 90602, (562) 698-6960; www.oceanicarts.net.
Everyone needs a little mystery in their life, so confound family, friends and Thor Heyerdahl alike with this 8-foot-tall, hand-carved wooden replica of an Easter Island moai, better known to yokels as a tiki. The West was baffled by the isolated islanders who spent generations hammering out these monster statues, but your neighbors will be even more baffled as to why someone would spend $3,200 (plus delivery charges) on something that, unlike other $3,200 purchases, will not drive you to work, perform kidney dialysis, or take you on an all-expenses-paid tour of the majestic castles of Europe. If you can't handle two month's salary worth of tiki, you can rent one for the next three-day weekend for between $98 and $120, depending on girth, height and inherent capability to mystify. And of course, quietly browsing the tiki selection in Oceanic Arts' Whittier warehouse is free and inspiring. "You should come over—just for the joy of it," cooed one employee. "And if you want to buy an outrigger canoe or a ship's figurehead, you can do that, too."
THE LOCUST NOVELTY
COST: Free with connections. WHERE TO GET IT: "Good luck finding one."
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It's the eternal hipster dilemma: Sell records to buy coke? Or sell coke to buy records? Fortunately, someone out there has come up with a way to keep you from losing your cool and/or puking your guts out in agonizing cocaine withdrawal with a series of specially designed cocaine mirrors featuring the logos of oh-so-hip underground bands. Now, as you separate that pile of dubiously cut cocaine into lines, all your jittery art-waif friends can tell you're a fan of, say, the Locust, a trs chic San Diego circus-punk art-thrash act featured in John Waters' Cecil B. Demented. And now as you thumb through your very selective record collection, all your socially awkward music-nerd friends will realize that you can probably get them some drugs. Either way, your popularity is bound to skyrocket. But there's one catch: just like the cocaine itself, you're gonna have to make a few phone calls before you can track this one down. Even one of our most trusted sources denied knowledge of these until mercilessly pressed, at which point he admitted that they existed but he didn't know where to get one, at which point we beat him senseless in a fit of drug-fueled rage before setting off in search of Robitussin to chug. Maybe you'll have better luck. Remember: it's for novelty (and vanity) purposes only.
DEFORMED HUMAN SKULL
COST: $600-$2,500. WHERE TO GET IT: Someone known as "Shannon"; bme.freeq.com/skulls/ or email@example.com.
Maybe you know someone who's hard to shop for. Maybe you think he has everything. Maybe he even has a real human skull from a real human dead person, imported through murky commercial channels from some godless backwater of a country. But you can still brighten his holidays this year with something even better: a deformed human skull from a real deformed person, imported from Canada, where apparently nothing is sacred anymore. Tusk-like bone protrusions, pinheads, elephant men, syphilitic jaw scars, even bullet holes—whatever sort of twisted grave robbing suits the one you love, you'll be sure to find a real conversation piece. Or maybe not. Maybe even the hideously distorted skull of a prematurely dead infant can't satisfy you or your loved one's reprehensible gift-giving urges. Well, you're in luck: trusted customers can, if they ask nicely, gain access to a cache of "extremely rare and unique items that are NOT available for general public purchase." "If you have purchased from me and have unusual tastes," reads the website, "please ask." Happy holidays, you sick bastard.