Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hard Choices and Cold Fingers

Dear Monica,
I'm in a bit of a sticky wicket.  When my sister said she wanted a pair of gloves for Christmas, I thought would be an easy enough request to fill.  Naturally, I went on ETSY because obviously unique and handmade items make the best presents.  Plus, you get the satisfaction of supporting artists and craftspeople rather some behemoth conglomerate.  

Here's where things get weird.  After looking through 40+ pages of hand-knitted "gloves," I realized something unsettling.  GLOVES NO LONGER HAVE FINGERS.  They cover more of you arms, which is good, but your fingers are exposed.  What the fuck is up with that shit?  When did gloves stop covering the part of the hands that need to be warm?  Don't people know that you lose more heat through your extremities than any other part of your body?  

My sister lives in a frightfully cold area.  She probably wants her fingers to be warm and not lose them to frostbite, but she is also very stylish and I don't want to give her something that she would be ashamed to wear in public. Is it worse to be cold or unfashionable?  Please let me know what is up.

Yours Truly,
Lost in the Cold

Dear Lost,

Your question goes straight to the heart of one of the biggest dilemmas of modern times, the tension between form and function.  All too often we find ourselves in the position of having to choose between looking stylish and being comfortable.  And, as Herman Melville so aptly observed, how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!

Let me clear some things up for you.  Although you are morally correct to shop on ETSY,  the products for sale on this site are primarily made and marketed by hipsters.  How else are they going to afford PBR and Cosby sweaters?  For these people, form will always trump function.  Case in point? Pretty much everything these people deem fashionable.

The interesting twist, however, is that the fingerless gloves are a response to technological advancements in the modern age, namely the fact that you can't send ironic text messages, look for the closest coffee shop with free wifi, or type the Mac Airbook that your trust fund bought you with covered fingers.  The smartphone's touch screen will not recognized the gloved touch and the Mac's keys are too close together to allow for anything other than skeletal fingers to type on them.  

The bad news is this.  If your sister lives in an area or neighborhood that is densely populated by hipsters, then know that they will look down on her warm, covered fingers.  In most cases, the looks will be a disparaging mixture of envy, condescension, and pity.  

The good news is this is the only expression that hipsters are capable of making.  They will look at your sister (and everyone else) the exact same way no matter what she is wearing.   This means that she is free to wear whatever she wants.  She will simply need to shake those haters off, doing so with the confidence that comes from the knowledge that their spite comes from a place of low self-esteem and painfully frozen digits.

You know your sister.  You know what she values most.  If you are unsure, ask her.  The holidays are about getting what you want, not having to fake delight over other people's unfortunate choices that they made for you.  Faking satisfaction with gifts is like faking orgasms, do it once and you're going to be doing it forever.

-M. Perling

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