Just when the rich were worring that they might run out of new luxury imports (things were so bad they were spending their money on French drinking water, after all) along comes Denmark's Dandy Corp. to offer "At last, chewing gun for the rich."
That's what the sexy female voice says on a TV ad, after the camera pans across a bureau top decorated with sports-car keys, opera glasses, hundred-dollar bills, and a silver package decorated Gucci-wise with green-and-red stripes around the words "The Stimorol Experience."
Says Dandy USA president Michael Stone: "Really, what we're doing is selling gum on the same level that Perrier sold water and Haagen-Dazs sold ice cream. Or look at vodka. The most successful brands in growth in the last five years have been Polish, Russian and Swedish. This is an odorless, tasteless liquor. Why do people want to pay 50 percent more? They want to make a statement about themselves."
(The price of Stimorol, which is not yet available in Washington, is 40 cents for 12 tablets of gum.)
Chewing gum for the rich! The implications are enormous.
Upper-class accents will suffer from attempts to chew gum and talk at the same time, but then upper-class accents always sound as if there's some kind of suffering going on. It is yet to be seen whether the rich can pass the common man's intelligence test of being able to chew gum andd walk at the same time.
Think of it-some of them may well be chewing a piece of gum for the first time. They'll need all the help we can give them.
For instance, when we see a familiar bug-eyed struggle contorting the face of someone riding in the back of a Rolls Corniche, we might respectfully tap on the window and say: "You're not supposed to swallow it."
After mastering gum safety, and learning all the words to the 1961 British skiffle hit, "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?" the rich can go on to advanced skills, such as holding the gum between the front teeth and seeing how long a string can be stretched out with the thumb and forefinger, with full retrieval no gray goo trailing down onto one's place setting.
Exactly. Having never chewed gum to start with, they won't know any better than to chew it at the dinner table. And probably no amount of advice will keep them from trying to master and exercise that paramount skill cracking the gum. This requires a complicated folding maneuver by the molars to trap air or champagne bubbles or what have you inside the wad, turning it into a little masticatory time bomb to be set off, say, in those breathy pauses between ghe movements of symphonies. SMACK. It could be just the thing to break those awkard silences at dinner parties.
More important, chewing gum for the rich could lead to a whole revolution in European exports. Wily oldworld merchants would do well to consider taking other items that have long been favorites of the rest of America, and selling them to the rich, who publicly disdain them as "tacky" but may secretly crave them just as Dandy hopes they crave chewing gum.
The opportunities are knocking louder every day. We may soon open Architectural Digest, The New Yorker or Town & Country to see ads for a huge range of European-made schlockola for the rich: dashboard gnomes, safari suits, those spring mounted hands that wave a perky Hi! from the back windows of cars,l clear plastic seat covers with little flecks of gold and silver inside, driftwood clocks, wagon wheel lamps, those wooden-soled sandals known as shopping mall shoes, ceramic black cats, polyester dice to be hung from the rear-view mirror, and coffee cups with sayings such as "Kiss Me, I'm Irish."
A whole trend verges on sweeping the upper class. The alert Continental exporter, then, would do well to consider the following.
Lawn Ornaments for the Rich: Give someone a legend for Christmas a front-lawn flamingo handcarved in mutton-fat jade, with French Control marks on the underfoot. Accompanied by silver pedestal balll actually made of silver, and Limoges porcelain jockey boy.
Beehive Hairdos for the Rich: At last, this classic New World statement is rendered with the Old World craftsmanship it deserves. Layer upon layer of lovingly applied lacquer duplicate the authentic gravity-defying "spray 'n' pray" look formerly attaiable only in rural American beauty shops. So durable that it's guaranteed to stop Red Brigade sniper rounds during Italian fashion shows or factory visits. Doubles as bowling ball bag.
Little Burro-and-Cat Planters for the Rich: Sshh! Has Westphalia Schlockwerken A.G. stolen the closely held secrets of the legendary Mexican border towns? Perhaps. With our tradition of insistence on absolute authenticity, we get our very own underpaid workers to slap together a couple of injection molds, fire up the pumps and squeeze out enought of these things in one day to fill every breakfast nook and rumpus room in greater Akron. Will your most discerning friends know the difference? Only if you tell them the price.
Smog for the Rich: From the Hamptons to Palm Beach, from Scottsdale to Bar Harbor, the cri de coeur rings out: Not the same old crystalline blue sky over my garden party! Now your guests can envy you for skies from beige to burnt ochre. Individually numbered compressed air tanks filled in zeppelins hovering over the Ruhr valley bring you poisonous hues reminiscent of the great days the great Continental captains of capitalism. Shades of Krupp!
Cat Clocks for the Rich: As seen in service-area gift shops up and down the tradition-rich New Jersey Turnpike, this Swiss-made replica has a lapis tail that wags and agate eyes that roll with each passing second. On the hour, the musix box plays Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."
Chest Hair for the Rich: There's no longer any reason to be ashamed of that certain lack of vigor so often associated with males of the upper class. Now the most effete of the rich can open their shirts halfway to the waist and win nicknames such as "Caveman" and "Rug." Meanwhile, they can take quiet pride in knowing that this hair was shaved from the bodies of pedigreed, though distressed, gentlefolk from the best families in Europe. Genealogies on request.
Discount Drugstores Sandals for the Rich: These are the very same sandals you've seen the natives wearing at Skee-ball arcades on the Jersey Shore. Perfect for shopping malls, stunning in video game emporia. All the arts of the great perfume makers of Europe have been called on to add the finishing touch: that Taiwan factory chemical vat smell. Synthetic fibers let the foot breathe, but not very well.
There's no end to the opportunities. Think of Ferrari tires painted white and turned into lawn planters! A Bentley recreational vehicle every bit as good as Winnebago's "Mini Winnie!" How about Herbert von Karajan conducting the Mel "Stutterin' Power" Tillis Songbook! T-shirts reading: "Mummy and Daddy Went to Gstaad and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!" Maybe we can talk the great artists of Europe into cranking out nudes and sunsets on black velvet. English cabinetmakers turning out dinette sets!
This could be as big as America itself. In fact, the rich who respond to the Stimorol gum ads will face only one problem: They may have bitten off more than they can chew.