When I woke up this morning, I couldn't help thinking to myself, "You know what I need in my life? A robot that looks human and can have a conversation with me. I think I'll pick one up today."
Was this a sign that the soul-crushing loneliness of my life has made me desperate for any kind of human or ersatz-human interaction? Of course not.
It was merely my Extra-Sensory Perception kicking in -- for somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew that I would come face to face with a life-like robot named "Swami."
He's one of the fantasy gifts offered by Neiman Marcus this year in their 2007 Christmas Book. WATCH VIDEO
In our few minutes together, Swami and I discussed deep philosophical subjects, art, and the latest on Lindsay Lohan (he'd be crossing his fingers that she's clean and sober for good...if he had any fingers).
By the end of the conversation, I had no choice but to write the good people at Neiman Marcus a (voided) check to purchase my very own Swami for $75,000.
I spoke to Brendan Hoffman, the president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct, who explained to me that, yes, people really do buy these things. The cars, he explained, are particularly popular.
This year's automotive gift is a 2008 Lexus IS F "Special Build" sedan that has all sorts of things that I don't understand but basically means that it's really fast and powerful. I would have written a (voided) check for this, too, but they told us that the price is a secret (we later learned that it's actually $68,000).
No, this car does not come with TODAY producer Jen Long.
This year, Hoffman thinks the most popular item will be the dragon topiary, a living work of art that would look great on anyone's giant lawn.
The version pictured at right is only about 15 feet long -- the real one is 100-feet long, takes 6-8 weeks to create and 2-5 years to grow out.
And nothing says "We have the most ostentatious yard decoration in the history of this town and you don't" like a 100-foot long dragon that costs $30,000. I live in a Manhattan apartment, so I'm going to pass on this one. Besides, I'm running out of phony checks.
For those of you who are too cheap to drop, say, $1 million on a 305-carat uncut diamond necklace, there are some more affordable gifts. For example, you can pick up a set of four peppermint tins (left) for $20.
But honestly, what's the fun of that?
I refuse to buy anything from this catalog that I could pay for with a check that actually clears. So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to purchase a stake in an aerospace racing league franchise ($2 million).