Idly surfing around at work, I tried in vain to find something to do tonight. Movies? Nah, can see them at home and there’s nothing great playing. Dinner? Blah, we’re getting fat enough as it is. Live music would be nice, but I couldn’t find any shows. On the verge of giving up, I lucked up on the Bond Street Association Annual Festival.
Judging by the description, this event would be free food, champagne, and celebrities. Apparently, the ritziest stores in London allow us commoners a peak into the strange world of the wastefully wealthy from 6:00 to 9:00 at night once a year.
Intrigued, I headed there right after work and was ready for action by 6:00. In an “Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirt stained with a couple of mud dots from the bike ride to work and Old Navy pants, I was one of very few people not in a suit. No matter: by greeting the bouncers with a pretentious “good evening” and asking shop owners questions detailed enough that I appeared interested in buying their wares, I earned plenty of pricey champagne and snack crackers that looked expensive but tasted like barbecue chips without paying a penny.
By Mike’s arrival to Bond St. at 7:00, I had the game down to a routine. So, we decided to push things a little further. A few of the shops required invitations to browse that evening. At first, I’d limited my challenges to questioning if invites were always needed to shop. With an accomplice present and a little champagne in me, I answered “do you have an invitation?” with a perturbed, loud “no, my father forgot to forward his to me. That’s fine: I’m sure he’ll understand. No worries: I’m sure there won’t be any negative business ramifications for your store.” This worked flawlessly on one poor lady in particular: as I huffed away, she was letting out a flustered “sir, please wait!”
Then there was our gift for mother. First we were interested in acquiring a 300 pound ($450) purse, but the strap would have been a bit too difficult for mother to handle, what with her arthritis and all. We explained this to a salesman who eagerly demonstrated how easy the clasp movement actually was and assured us that it would loosen up. A linen store went all out, looking for 20 pound ($30) hankies to go with the “French orange” of mom’s dining room. In the end, mother dearest was just too picky for even the best of Bond St. to please.
The Swiss watch store was ridiculously trusting. After drinking their champagne, I cockily proclaimed my desire to try on a particular Rolex. The watch’s face was literally covered with diamonds; although the clerk didn’t know what carat they were, he eagerly assured me that he could find out. My wrist being weighed down by all the pricey stones, I asked if there was a model with diamonds only under the glass instead of on the whole face. “We can arrange that for you, sir.” Considering the sticker price for one of these timepieces is 37,000 pounds ($55,000!), the salesperson should be willing to throw in a car or 2…
It was great to pile on the ritz. I’m impressed how many stores fell for our act. Maybe their typical customers are weird and poorly dressed? Judging by Bond St. the rich are different: they waste more money.