The gift catalogues from the mail-order houses seem wilder this year than ever before. It's becoming hard to tell the supposed utilities—the shrimp shellers, egg timers, potholders, bird feeders, and such—from the funny stuff—the dribble glasses, trick cigars, and fur lined bathtubs ("for milady's jewels"). The line is no longer clear. "Denta-Matic," for example, is a plastic box to be affixed to the bathroom wall, where it conceals a tube of toothpaste. It emits "exactly a brush length with the mere push of a button." Should we view this, at $1.89, with jocosity, or has the machine age indeed begat for us another boon?
The virtues of a hollow toothed comb with a built in bulb which squirts flea powder as it combs the dog are obvious, and the same is probably true of the countless devices for adorning the latch key and controlling its behavior in one's pocket. But what of the "woodpicker"—a metal bird which dips into a box of toothpicks and presents one to any diner who would push his button—does the woodpicker belong with the Early American candleholders or among the facetiae, with the key winding false teeth and the crank operated spaghetti fork?
Still another category is in the making in this year's catalogues: a plethora of gifts which the recipient can use only by performing some dirty and disagreeable household task. Agreed that the butter warmer or the horse radish pot with a "whimsical and personable horse's head" on its cover is not indispensable; yet these are relatively painless gifts. But it's asking a good deal to expect anyone to receive joyously, as its gay wrappings are torn away, a can of Krust-Off Oven Cleaner and to haste with it to the kitchen in an eager assault against oven grease in an oven that will doubtless be re greased by nightfall anyhow.