The economy’s in the toilet, people in Africa are starving, the Middle East is in flames, but don’t despair: Someone recently paid $1,000 for a chocolate sundae at a Georgetown restaurant.

The restaurant is called Serendipity3, and it sent out a news release announcing that on Nov. 19 it sold its first “Golden Opulence Sundae,” recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most expensive Sundae priced at $1,000.”

I’m pretty sure there should be a comma in there somewhere, but never mind. What do you get for your thousand bucks? Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla that is covered in 23-karat edible gold leaf, drizzled in “the most expensive chocolate in the world” (Amedei Porcelana), with chunks of Chuao chocolate, topped with caviar and infused with fresh orange, passion fruit and Armagnac. Instead of jimmies you get truffles, gold-dipped French dragees (that’s Jordan almonds to you and me) and marzipan fruits.

Oh, and the whole shebang is served in a “Baccarat Harcourt Crystal goblet,” which you get to keep, just like one of those little plastic batting helmets at the ballpark.

I think this is the very definition of “conspicuous consumption.” The only way it could be any more conspicuous is if you ate it while sitting atop a lifeguard’s chair erected in the middle of Wisconsin and M.

I’d like to report that this Roman orgy of fin-de-siecle monstrousness was consumed by some Internet millionaire or a bored sheikh. But no. It was ordered for a boy’s 12th birthday, at a party with his parents and nine friends. His mother had celebrated her 12th at the restaurant’s flagship location in New York City.

The sundae was created in 2004 for Serendipity3’s 50th anniversary. Rodrigo Garcia, one of the partners behind the Georgetown location, open since May, said several a month are sold at the Las Vegas Serendipity3.

But that town is full of people looking to burn through their winnings. Am I the only one who finds something icky about spending $1,000 on a chocolate sundae for a 12-year-old?

“I don’t judge what people like to do with their money,” Rodrigo told me. “I figure people work hard for their money. If they want to spend it, that’s okay, right?”

I suppose. And yet I hope some day that kid experiences the pleasure that comes from sitting around a campfire with friends, roasting marshmallows on a stick, then squeezing them between graham crackers and a chunk of Hershey bar — a good old 99-cent Hershey bar.

Oh, deer

From one type of food to another: Several readers commented that they were glad to hear that deer “harvested” in local parks go to area food banks. But North Potomac’s Hong-Yee Chiu wondered: “Why don’t they sell deer meat to connoisseurs who will pay high prices like twice the price for beef, and use the profit to buy beef at half the price, which will then double the amount of meat available for food banks? For one, I am willing to buy it.”

Sitting on thedock of the bay

Here’s a feature I didn’t expect to see on a house in downtown Washington: “water views.” That’s written on a sign on a house for sale a block off North Capitol Street, at the corner of First and Channing streets NW.

Hmm. No ocean there. No bay, lake or river. But the house is across the street from the McMillan Reservoir. “You have to be on the second floor,” explained owner/agent Don McKinnon when I called him up. “I’m sitting on my bed and I can see the water. . . . And that’s west, so you get a nice sunset.”

The house has been on the market since April, and Don said he has reduced the price to $675,000.

Helping Children’s

Don’s house isn’t far from Children’s Hospital. And Children’s Hospital is never far from my thoughts this time of year. I hope it’s close to yours as well. The point of this annual fundraising campaign — a tradition at The Post that dates to the 1940s — is to raise money to pay the bills of poor children. You can help by sending a check or money order (payable to “Children’s Hospital”) to Washington Post Campaign, P.O. Box 17390, Baltimore, MD 21297-1390. To donate online, go to childrenshospital.

Our goal is to raise $500,000 by Jan. 6. So far, we’ve raised $22,407. Please help us close the gap.