« The World's Most Expensive Houses | Main | Ooh La La! It's French Cooking For Dinner This Week »

August 16, 2005

Let's Hear It For Conspicuous Consumption!

While it was an amusing read, this article from MSN Dating & Personals is clearly intended to part a man from his money. The last time I saw so many product placements was in a movie. Amanda at Pandagon had a blast fisking this one. Since I am a Countess who likes pretty, shiny, and sometimes expensive things, I couldn't resist taking a crack at this list.

10 things every single man must own

By Matt Schneiderman

Want to impress the ladies with your great taste in home décor and more? Skip the leather couch and silk boxers and buy these bachelor essentials.

Forget impressing the ladies. It's much more fun to enjoy the pretty, shiny things just for the sake of it. It's a bonus if you manage to impress someone else. The key to impressing anyone, male or female, is to look like you're not trying.

1. A top-notch coffee/espresso maker

Any girl who’s at your place for dinner (or lounging in your bed come morning) deserves a classier send-off than “see ya,” so trade in your college-days $20 coffee maker for a machine that’ll give Starbucks a run for its money. The professional-quality Delonghi “Caffe Figaro” Coffee/Espresso Machine ($230, macys.com) uses steam pressure to brew a superior espresso; the built-in milk frother allows her to request a latte or cappuccino. Toss in a $20 electric grinder — fresh grounds are a must for a quality caffeine fix — and you'll make her feel like a princess without breaking out the whole breakfast-in-bed shtick.

No, no, no! Everyone has an espresso machine. Get a French-press coffee maker. It's much cheaper than the espresso coffee maker mentioned in the article. I first saw one when I went to the Mysterium convention in Toronto last year. Mysterium is the convention for the fans of Myst, Riven, Exile, Uru, and Revelation. The owner of the bed and breakfast I stayed in brought one out and served coffee with it. It was so unusual. I loved it. Plus the coffee tasted better than coffee in a drip coffee maker. And forget the $20 electric grinder. Doesn't the author of this article know about Burr coffee grinders? When you're an adult, and take your coffee drinking seriously, you get a Burr. The Count and I just bought one two days ago, and it's very nice. You pour your coffee beans into it. It measures the amount of beans you need for the proper number of cups, and grinds the beans for you. High class gadget, this one.

2. A lamp in your bedroom

Raise your hand if the only source of light in your bedroom is that garish overhead fixture that was there when you first moved in. Now, all of you, go out and buy a bedside lamp with a fabric shade. This inexpensive trifle is not lost on women, who not only see it as a sign of your civility (imagine that, a light switch within arm’s reach vs. across the room!), she’ll also feel much more comfortable under its softer, more forgiving glow. (Ikea.com has a large selection in the $10 to $40 range that should satisfy any man’s tastes without siphoning his savings.)

First, guys, move out of your parent's basement.

Gah! - she'll also feel much more comfortable under its softer, more forgiving glow??? What an insult! In the harsh light of the bare, overhead lamp in your parent's basement she'll look like Bea Arthur? Hell, what do you look like under that bare, overhead lamp? Who's to say that you are Adonis, judging how other women look?

I guess Ikea paid someone to be named in this article. Smiley1 If you really want to go high class to please yourself, get a mica lamp. Those things are beautiful. Slag glass lampshades are also very nice. They're unusual.

3. Swiffer Sweeper + Swiffer Cloths + Swiffer Wet Cloths

For her, walking across your floor barefoot should not be an exercise in muck tolerance. To that end, the Swiffer is the greatest thing to happen to the lazy man since the remote control. As simple as this cloth-on-a-stick looks, the electrostatically charged sheets suck up dust, hair and dirt in no time, and the Wet Cloths will make quick work of your bathroom floor—a necessity if you ever want her to visit again.

More product placement! For you, "walking across your floor barefoot should not be an exercise in muck tolerance." Just keep the place clean enough so that you don't spread Bubonic Plague. You don't need to invest in a Swiffer to do that. One trick I've learned is that vacuuming or sweeping the floor all by itself makes your house look cleaner. I would hope that the single guy this article is aimed at doesn't live in a mountain of Cheeto dust and dried-out cat puke that's been sitting on the floor for two months.

4. A comfortable couch

Repeat after me: You do not need a black leather couch. Skip the cliché and pick out a plush upholstered sofa, like the simple, elegant, under $1,000 Mercer at Roomandboard.com. And no matter what style you buy, play it safe and pick a neutral or muted color, then purchase a couple of pillows with stripes or a bold, masculine pattern to jazz it up and prove you aren't your average lug when it comes to home décor.

I have to agree with this one, mainly because we don't have a couch. We have our own chairs. There's no room for a couch, and I would love to have one. If we bought a couch there'd be no room for the chairs. I don't know why there's such a focus on "bold, masculine" patters. Just don't mix polka dots with plaid. That's hard on the eyes and makes one want to tear ones eyes out with corn-on-the-cob skewers.

5. Nice underwear

When it comes to your love life, the last thing you want is for your underwear to be a mood-killer, and trust me, the following selections will make her recoil: Tighty whities; underwear featuring cartoon characters, or anything that resembles what a woman would wear. (Bikini briefs? Heaven help you.) Even silk boxers, no matter how nice, can send a sleazy vibe, so stick with something basic, like Calvin Klein cotton boxers or boxer briefs. Splurge on at least two weeks' worth and throw out the others, lest you’re tempted to don a ratty pair and put off doing laundry—you never know when opportunity will strike.

Of course, this is assuming the guy even wears underwear. Rule of thumb: once your underwear has holes in it, permanent track marks, a torn elastic band, and spaghetti sauce stains on it, it's time to buy some new underwear.

6. A key-ring that can fix, cut, and open anything

Sure, your power-tool collection is outstanding—but it'll do you no good sitting in your closet when your date's sunglasses come apart at the restaurant. Show off how useful you can be by whipping out the tiny-but-powerful Leatherman Micra key-ring (leatherman.com). The two-and-a-half-inch, 1.75-ounce stainless-steel multi-tool combines scissors, tweezers, nail file, ruler, bottle opener, three screwdrivers, and a blade (of course). You’ll be amazed how indispensable it (and you, by extension) will become to her.

I'm not so sure such a keychain would impress me, but I suppose it would be nice to have. Why your date would be wearing sunglasses in a restaurant is beyond me.

7. $150+ jeans

Why cough up that much dough when you can find a seemingly-fine pair for much less? Because designer denim does make a difference—and you can wear them everywhere from a dive bar to a five-star restaurant, if paired with the right shirt and suit jacket. Check out stores that carry Diesel, Evisu, Paper Denim & Cloth, or Seven. Since every pair of jeans fits differently, you will need to try a few on: Err on the side of too tight as opposed to too baggy, as jeans do stretch a bit as they are broken in. Choose a pair that isn't too trendy (warning signs include more than five pockets, garish stitching, and too much "distress," like rips or bleaching) unless you're willing to buy into next season's style as well.

Don't spend that much money on a pair of jeans. Just go to any thrift store where the local rich people drop off their clothes, and you'll find a very nice pair of expensive jeans for eight bucks.

Since every pair of jeans fits differently, you will need to try a few on: Err on the side of too tight as opposed to too baggy, as jeans do stretch a bit as they are broken in. Choose a pair that isn't too trendy (warning signs include more than five pockets, garish stitching, and too much "distress," like rips or bleaching) unless you're willing to buy into next season's style as well.

Uh, don't buy a pair of jeans so tight that you lose circulation in your legs, and can no longer walk. Nothing is more gag-inducing than seeing a beer belly hanging over someone's jeans. I personally like black, narrow-fit, jeans. I have to agree with nixing the baggy look. The baggy ones look stupid, in my opinion. And don't let your new underwear show over your jeans. That's just plain low-class.

8. $200+ dress shoes

Accept it: Girls are into footwear, and your feet will be one of the first things she looks at. Invest in quality black leather tie-ups — which will never go out of fashion and will match with most any jeans, pants or suit — to make a great first impression every time. If she knows her shoes, she'll be hoping to find you could afford a pair of Bruno Magli, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, or John Varvatos. Sure, they’re not cheap, but hey, it could be worse: We could be the ones in heels.

I don't care that much about shoes. In fact, I hate shoes. My ex's grandmother used to call me "The Gypsy" because I refused to wear shoes. There is a good time to buy shoes, though. Buy them when you can see your toes sticking out of them because you've worn holes in them. No, DO NOT superglue your sole to your shoe if it comes loose. It doesn't work. Trust me on that one. Smiley1

9. 300-thread-count cotton sheets

Let’s face it: You (and hopefully your date) will be spending a lot of quality time here. So skip the scratchy polyester blends and splurge on some 100-percent Egyptian cotton sheets with a thread count of 300—the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet. It’ll run you around $120 for a queen-size set (for a good selection, check out bedbathandbeyond.com), but anything that might keep her in bed longer is worth the expense, right?

This one made me laugh, because The Count and I found 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets a couple of days ago at - you guessed it - Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They were on sale, from about $200.00 to about $130.00. We were very tempted to buy them just because we heard these high-thread-count sheets were heavenly to sleep on. Thankfully, we resisted. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good idea to change the sheets more than once per year. Think of it this way - there are millions upon billions of bed mites in your bed feasting on your dead skin cells while you're having sex and sleeping. That image alone will inspire just about anyone to frequently change and wash their sheets.

10. The Joy of Cooking

Few things are sexier than a guy who can cook... but if toasting Pop-Tarts is the extent of your expertise? Then get Joy, the bible of all cookbooks since, unlike its trendier, more specialized alternatives like Nigella Lawson or Rocco DiSpirito, it contains recipes for just about anything you could think to make, all laid out with instructions that even an alien from another planet could figure out. So go ahead, invite her over for something simple (vegetarian chili, for instance) or exotic (Chicken Kiev, anyone?) and learn that the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach, too.

Guys, don't learn to cook to impress a woman. Learn to cook because you enjoy the art of cooking and eating your own tasty creations. If you learn to cook to impress a woman, it will show. I think learning to cook is a great thing for anyone to do. I certainly enjoy cooking.

Here are some books that I like very much:

Casa e Cucina - The Count got these magazines from his mother in Italy. They're in Italian. He speaks Italian, so he can understand them.

Anything by Rachael Ray and Alton Brown. I swear by those two.

"The French Chef Cookbook" by Julia Child. This book was based on her television show.

Guys, learn to cook for yourselves. You'll be glad you did. Plus, cooking gives you a sense of accomplishment for a job well done, and then you get to eat the job. Smiley1

Matt Schneiderman is an editor for Sync, a men's tech and lifestyle magazine. He owns nine of the ten things on this list—and has added The Joy of Cooking to his Amazon wish list.

He spent that much money on that stuff? I wonder what condition his credit card is in?

I like the hint he threw in. The Joy of Cooking is on his Amazon wish list. He's hoping someone who reads the article will buy it for him. Hey, more power to him, if someone actually buys it for him. Never turn down freebies. I'm an opportunist at heart. evil_smiley.gif

Posted on August 16, 2005 at 03:18 PM | Permalink


Any man who would spend $150 on a pair of freakin' jeans sets himself apart as a rube, IMO. Go for the less expensive but still-durable sort.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Aug 16, 2005 4:51:53 PM

You'd wear sunglasses to an outdoor restaurant. Since Austin has warm weather for like 11 months out of the year, we go out to eat in outdoor restaurants all the time.

Posted by: Amanda at Aug 16, 2005 5:20:04 PM

Ah hah. There are a few outdoor restaurants here, and it does get bright during the Spring and Summer. So, yes, I can now see why a woman might wear sunglasses outdoors. I just hope guys who buy that keychain gadget don't think that women will swoon so much over it that they land in bed with them. ;)

Posted by: The Countess at Aug 16, 2005 5:32:07 PM

I can't see spending $150 on a pair of jeans, either. You can find a very nice-fitting pair for a fraction of the price; a pittance if you go to those rich-people-dump-their clothes-there thrift stores. There's one near me, and I've found some very nice clothing and gack there.

Posted by: The Countess at Aug 16, 2005 6:00:49 PM

It's cute how this list calls men 'men', but the list for women calls us 'girls'...

Posted by: Baubo at Aug 16, 2005 9:55:26 PM

I suspect ol' Matt got many of those items as free promos.

Posted by: mythago at Aug 16, 2005 10:32:42 PM

This guys a piker when it comes to the shallow crap that works.I have NO intention of pooching the program with a list of field tested HERE.
More often than not, stuff only needs to appear like it cost a lot of money. Thrift stores are indeed great for finding the "used once" waaaaaay overpriced stuff.Flea markets are a goldmine for knockoff crap that have the genuine "Gucii"and "Rolax"(sic)lable.The stuff that is oughtright label ripoff is better as most women are adept at lable scrutiny, but can't spot a genuine Rolex from 3 feet away.
One word about the wizz bang coffee makers, learn to use them deftly
before required to perform the ritual.French press can be icky to deal with grounds,and the blade type grinders are good for chopping up all kinds of DRY herbs(stuff like fresh chive gums up), kind of like a mini Cuisineart.If living/cooking space is a premium single function items are a liability.
As always, shiny is better.

Posted by: CaptDMO at Aug 17, 2005 12:25:55 PM

Glad to hear you're a thrift store aficionado too, Countess. I've always love places like that, but we don't have a good one in our area right now. Instead, I just stop at a few yard sales on my way out grocery shopping on Saturdays. If you hit the right areas it's amazing what you can find. Designer clothes for a dollar or less, kitchen gadgets, you name it. And toys never out of their boxes and clothes with tags still on. I already have five Christmas presents for my son and four for my daughter, all brand new and the most expensive item was $3.

Posted by: Anne at Aug 17, 2005 4:24:38 PM