What do fathers want for Father's Day? If you believe the newspapers this week, the only thing they want is a watch. You have the choice of an inexpensive watch or one that gives you the phases of the moon, wakes you up and takes your blood pressure.
You can choose from watches made in China for $10 or diamond-encrusted ones made by hand in Switzerland for $25,000.
I have never told anyone this, but I buy my watches off a pushcart on the corner of K Street. My watchmaker's name is Rinaldo. He features hundreds of watches on his cart, from ladies' bracelets to men's timepieces that light up in the dark and also tell you what day it is.
Rinaldo will sell you a watch for $10, and two for $15 -- tax free.
I trust Rinaldo. He has been established on K Street since 1997. His customers consist of lawyers, doctors and lobbyists. I asked him the other day, "I know why someone would want one watch for Father's Day, but why two?"
"A lot of people these days have two fathers," he said with a laugh. "Read the divorce statistics."
"Most people already have a watch. Why do they need another?"
"They can't pass up the price. It's cheaper than a pound of fudge."
I asked, "How can you sell watches that are so inexpensive?"
"They come hot off the boat from China," he replied.
"But how can they make them so cheaply?"
"I hear they're made by watchmakers serving time in jail, but I'm not supposed to ask."
"They look as good as the ones you find at Macy's."
"Better. My watches could out-time theirs."
"Do they come with a warranty?"
"Of course they do. If anything goes wrong, you can send it back to the factory in Mongolia."
Two ladies who were out for lunch stopped by. I heard one say to the other, "I have to get a graduation gift for my nephew."
And the other said, "I have to get two for wedding presents."
They asked Rinaldo, "Are they any good?"
He answered, "Everyone in the White House wears one. Otherwise they wouldn't know what time it is."
One lady said, "That sells me."
After they left, I asked, "Is it true that everyone in the White House has one of your watches?"
"They lie over there all the time, so why shouldn't I?"
"I notice you have counterfeit Rolexes, Movados and Tiffany watches."
"They're among my best sellers," he said. "A fake Rolex speaks for itself. It shows you are a person of breeding and taste. Lobbyists are my best customers."
"What would you say is the main secret of your success?"
Rinaldo said, "Location, location, location."
I know Rinaldo will make a lot of fathers happy on Father's Day. That is what the American Dream is all about.
(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services