Splurges and Steals

It's that time again. You've made your list, you've checked it twice. You've called to up the credit limit on your Mastercard and Discover, and now you're ready for the mayhem known as the Friday after Thanksgiving.

If you know that cousin Mariah won't be satisfied with anything less than a Hermes silk twill scarf, and little Gavin will hold his breath all Christmas day if he doesn't get the Sony's $1500 Aibo robodog, your work is cut out for you.

But if, like most of us, you anticipate spending the next three weeks scampering through the aisles of every local emporium or scouring every e-commerce website, your frenzy level soaring with each step and click, you'll find the Hook's guide to gifting a boon.

Go high or go low. But whatever you do, hand it over with a flourish. Remember the immortal words of 17th century French playwright Pierre Corneille, "The manner of giving is worth more than the gift."


Burmese ruby and diamond ring at Keller & George: $23,600

Candy ring from CVS: $0.69


Pony named "Chansey" from Breezeway Farm in southern Albemarle: $1800

Ride on the Kohr Brothers carousel: free with any custard purchase


Twelve ounces of truffle-infused Crutin cheese from Feast!: $19.56

Twelve ounces (a 16-pack) of Kraft singles from Giant: $2.99


A bottle of "New World Red" wine in a walnut box with ebony lipping from the Kluge Estate Winery near Simeon: $495

Pint of Night Train from Lucky 7 on Grady Avenue: $2.49


Kyocera QCP6035 tri-mode mobile phone from Alltel: $250

Willy the whale phone complete with ocean spray holder (yard sale): $2.50


 Weekend for two in the "Thomas Jefferson suite" at that old white house called the Clifton Inn: $990

Week for two at the White House Motel: $294


BMW X5 SUV with 4.4-litre V8 from Crown BMW Porsche: $57,895

Round-trip ticket on the CTS Trolley: free


An hour of sensual body rubbing from a topless "masseuse" from Choice Entertainment: $225

A lifetime of the "massaging cucumber" from Spencer Gifts at Fashion Square: $19.99


 Two-hour boudoir photo session with Boris Starsosta Photography (two 8 x 10 3-D prints): $320

Fine for indecent exposure when you're caught dancing naked in front of The Hook webcam: $250.


1774 edition of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law at Blue Whale Books: $2500

Paperback edition of John Grisham's The Street Lawyer: $7.99


Super-light titanium Seven Alta from Blue Wheel bicycles: $8,000

Long-term "loan" of one of the City's yellow bikes: free


Custom-made mural for your foyer by Lincoln Perry: ca. $250,000

A walk past the day's artistry on Beta Bridge: free


Season tickets on the 50-yard line for the Cavs: $210, but don't count on getting them without a hefty donation.

Season tickets to Ultimate Frisbee on Central Grounds: free, but don't count on getting a schedule.


32-piece box of Gearhart's chocolates: $30

Hershey bar from CVS: $.59


Lastone therapy spa session at the Boar's Head Inn spa: $146

Purple rubber "squeeze ball" from Rebecca's: $7


Cable modem DSL service from Adelphia: $56/month

Daily 30-minute internet connection at any local library: free