I wouldn't say that I'm cheap, but I am definitely frugal and I think retail if for suckers. I buy my undergarments new, but that is about the extent of it. Everything else I have no problem buying secondhand, and my absolutely favorite place to shop is the Sports arena / Midway District. There is a Goodwill, Salvation Army, and a Baras thrift store all within blocks of each other. Then of course the crown jewel of all things used in San Diego: the Kobey swap meet. I can be found there at least once a week, ass end up, digging through boxes of other people's crap and I usually come up a winner. On occasion though, I find something so hideously compelling that I have to own it, which is how I became the proud owner of the Party Ball.

I found this “Party-Ball” by Towle at Kobey’s this past week. If you are not familiar with Towle, they are a world famous silver company that makes expensive sterling silver cutlery, bowls, goblets etc. I would say they are on par with Tiffany’s as far as price goes. For instance, right now on ebay you can find a towle butter knife going for 39 dollars and bidding isn’t over yet. Now, when I found this Party Ball for the low low price of one dollar I didn’t think, yeah, what a bargain. I thought, damn, I’d hate to be the wedding couple that opened up this colossal turkey of a wedding gift.

I’m not saying that a party ball is necessarily a poor gift choice. I’m saying that THIS party ball is a poor gift choice. I pulled it out of the package and placed the deceptively heavy yet tiny crystal orb precariously atop its initial engraved sterling silver perch. To say that even 6 cigarettes could fit in it would send me into a fit of hysterical laughter. In addition to the ridiculously diminutive size of the ball, I found that it was horrifically sharp as I tried to squeeze my hand in during a simulated attempt to retrieve something small like a peanut or an M&M. It was clear that if your hand was bigger than a ten year olds' you would definitely draw back a stump. I thought about the marketing person who sold this idea to the company. All I could imagine was the Saturday Night Live skit where Dan Aykroyd is the President of Mainway Toys defending his Bag O’ Glass toy to Consumer Reports. “it's a creative toy, you know? If you hold this up, you know, you see colors, every color of the rainbow! I mean, it teaches him about light refraction, you know? Prisms, and that stuff! You know what I mean?”

As I stood there in awe of this hideous creation I tried to recreate the day that this was purchased and here’s my take on how it probably went down. Some poor sap was invited to a wedding and went to Their local Towle retailer (where the pretentious bitch of a bride had the audacity to register, even though she knew most of her friends couldn’t afford it but, too bad, this was her day) and like most of us they probably waited until the last minute when all the cheaper end gifts had been snatched up. They would likely have had a full-blown meltdown when they saw that a single set of silverware was selling for upwards of 100 dollars and in a moment of panic they scooped up the party ball, a real bargain at $49.99, and made a break for it, even splurging for the extra 10 bucks to have it engraved.

Now, as I had it in my grubby mitts, I began to create an infomercial in my head. ... Your gathering isn’t a party until “Party Ball” is there! This lead-based glass ball of hilarity brings it and brings it HARD! Use it to proudly display: TWO DARTS! FOUR CIGARETTES! FIFTEEN PEANUTS! SEVEN M&M’S! A DOZEN TOOTHPICKS! WHATEVER YOUR WILD IMAGINATION CAN DREAM UP! Watch your guests light up with glee as they struggle to free their hand from the razor sharp opening! Nothing could be more wholesome and fun for the whole family! Some assembly required. Band-Aids not included.

I walked away feeling like I really scored that day. It’s only June and I’m already wistfully thinking ahead to Christmas morning when one of my loved ones (Probably my lucky sister) will eagerly jam her hand into her stocking and pull out Party Ball and think...”what the F?” Only six months and counting.

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