Homelessness Starter Kit, $29.99. For the myriad who were hustled by a bank into an impossible mortgage, then foreclosed upon. For the long-retired yet taxed right out of their own homes. For recent college grads who are jobless, of course, and too dispirited to return to their parents. Or for those who were simply laid off for no good reason and are now roofless, here’s a perfect gift for this holiday: Two pieces of cardboard, one to lie on, and one to create a begging and/or protest sign. As a bonus, we’ll include a list of suggested messages, completely free: WE ARE THE 99%, PREGNANT AND HUNGRY, I HAD A STROKE, I AM A WAR VETERAN, OCCUPY EVERYTHING DEMAND NOTHING, etc. For a Magic Marker, please add $1.99.
Military Contractor Gear, $499.95. For that aspiring mercenary in your family, now he can get off his couch and terrorize terrorists, without leaving his parents’ home even. Armed with a knife, grenades, M9 pistol and the latest Kalashnikov, the world’s most reliable infantry rifle, not that toy gun, M-16 piece of crap, your hired soldier can foray into his backyard and blast nasty holes into his dog, cat and lawn furniture. Emboldened, he can venture into adjacent properties and kick down his neighbors’ doors in the middle of the night and splatter them if they resist, or even if they submit. There’s no need for your deranged warrior to be bummed out over the end of the Iraq War, since he can bring all of that exciting carnage home. Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out later! Bored with nightly mayhem, your military contractor can even step on an improvised explosive device (at $79.95 extra, with only one needed, trust us) and feel the thrills of having his lower half, at least, shredded. Real life hired-guns don’t get Purple Heart, but we’ll ship you an authentic looking one, at $4.99 extra.
Big Sis Sex Doll, $65.99, with $9.99 for handcuffs and $29.99 for TSA uniform. Tired of Janet Napolitano rummaging in your pants? Now you can get into hers. This is no generic, almost life-size dummy with the usual, traditional orifices in more or less the right places, or even that rarified, glasses-wearing and Emily Dickinson-quoting vinyl girlfriend. No, Siree! This is the Secretary of Homeland Security in face and person, her unique body shape extraordinarily rendered by a world-renown, Chinese artisan, a classmate and rival, no less, to the sculptor of that hulking and fug ugly MLK statue on the Washington Mall. Spiffy in your TSA outfit, you can intone on your very first date, “This is merely procedural, ma’am,” as you legally insert your creepy claws inside Janet’s business pants and fondle her pubis, buttocks and more, with no foreplay whatsoever. Why waste time? Like any sane person, she will squirm, grimace or even curse in a realistic, battery operated shriek, AA cells not included, but should Janet resist your patriotic, post 9-11 molestation, you can harden your voice and growl, “I’ll send you to Guantanamo, bitch!” before you handcuff her and get really funky. Fun over, you can waterboard Janet’s face and gently wash her body with warm water and soap. Deflated, she is compact enough to store in a back pocket until the next airport patdown and/or enhanced interrogation technique session.
Home Slot Machine, $199.99. With offshoring, American factories are crumbling. Once the makers of high-quality merchandises, Americans now merely service or hustle each other, whether in investment banking, at street corner shell games or in casinos. Forty-one states now boast glittery gambling emporia, with these springing up even in an old church or a disused steel plant. It’s not farfetched to imagine a day when there are poker, blackjack, roulette and mahjong tables near each home. They’ll have to be within walking distance, of course, since Americans will be too broke to afford car or gasoline. Hell, it is probable that there will be a slot machine installed outside each dwelling, even of tarp or cardboard, where the mailbox used to be. The government won’t deliver your letters, since the postal service has long gone out of business, but it will stop by regularly to collect coins from your personal gambling contraption. Why not leap into the future, my friend, by having a slot machine right now in your living room? If you still have a living room, that is. Day or night, you can compulsively stuff your dwindling income into this cartoon-decorated steel box, then crank its handle without consequence. As in a real casino, your money will be magically transferred to unseen persons elsewhere. This mindless toy is tough enough to endure repeated kicks, bangs or even an atomic bomb, without showing any of your disappeared moolah. With each $200 spent, however, it will spit out a 25-cent coupon, to be spent at the supermarket of your choice.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.