My ambition as an 8-year-old boy was to become a spy.
The TV lineups in the 1960s brimmed with spy shows. My course of study included “Mission: Impossible,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “I Spy.”
Unfortunately, my greatest inspirations were Maxwell Smart, Secret Agent 86 of CONTROL, and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.
Would you believe that modeling one’s aspirations on a buffoon and an ape doesn’t always work out well?
But now, I have a chance to relive my childhood dreams, thanks to the annual Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts catalog. All I need is $315,000 and I’m good for a weekend as a secret agent.
I don’t know why I spy out the Fantasy Gifts every Christmas season. I’ve never accumulated the kind of income one needs to shop the catalog. This year is no exception.
Fantasy Gifts range from a larger-than-life animal sculpture by Bjorn Okholm Skaarup — he of the famous 15-foot-plus-tall hippo ballerina statue in New York — for as little as $200,000, to a 74-foot solar-powered yacht for $7.1 million. (Note: Only one yacht per customer. Sorry about that, chief.)
So my spy package turns out to be fairly reasonable. By comparison, I mean, not by bank account.
Here’s how Neiman Marcus describes it: “As the operatives, four adrenaline junkies will fly to Las Vegas via private jet for a three-day, two-night espionage adventure organized by The Invictus Experience. Upon landing, they’ll be greeted by a mysterious man in a tux, who will hand over an envelope containing their assigned mission profile.”
The secret agents will jump out of planes, race supercars and feast on covert dinners, accompanied by special ops veterans.
That’s a lot different than when we played secret agent as boys. Armed with suction-cup dart guns, toilet paper roll tube spy glasses and invisible two-way wrist radios, we skulked around pasture fences and sneaked into alfalfa fortresses in the hayloft.
Sometimes, the enemy agents made a run for it: “Mommy! Make the big kids stop capturing me when I use my freeze ray. I went, ‘Zzzzt,’ like I’m ‘sposed to.”
Little brothers and sisters make for uncooperative enemy agents — which is ironic, considering how they’re always spying on you and sneaking into your room to snitch your comic books.
Speaking of kids, here’s another gift in this year’s lineup: Your own candy store.
For a mere $325,000, you can have one wall of your home converted into a candy showroom. Then it will be stocked for up to three years in Sugarfina flavors that you help to create.
You and three friends will fly to the Sugarfina factory in Genoa, Italy, to design your own flavors. Then a million pieces of custom candies will be shipped to the candy shop in your own home over the next three years.
One. Million. Candy. Bars. Oh, my aching sweet tooth, that sounds delicious!
The catalog neglects to say how many calories are involved. But afterward, squeeze into a tutu and you could qualify as your own dancing hippo.
Watch out for spy cameras on the pirouettes.
Send coded messages to Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter. Tell him Lancelot Link sent you.