The following was recorded recently in a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream parlor in a Middle Western American city. This seemed like a good time to publish it.
Q. What is your name?
A. Marvin. I don't use a last name.
Q. Could you tell us what you do?
A. I'm a gift mavin. I tell a certain party what to give people at Christmas.
Q. Who is that?
A. I'm not supposed to say.
Q. Could you give us a hint?
A. He has a long gift list. He wears a beard and he stays out of sight.
Q. Howard Hughes?
A. No, I'll tell you. Santa Claus.
Q. You advise Santa on gifts?
A. You think he gets his ideas from TV?
Q. How long have you been with him?
A. Counting this Christmas, 479 years.
Q. Were you always a gift mavin?
A. No, I started out on the assembly line like everybody else. That was 1492. Big year for beads and trinkets.
Q. Do you handle all his gift problems?
A. We split it up: I handle sports and games.
Q. What will the hot items be this year?
A. The old favorites, of course—bikes and footballs, Monopoly sets, hockey sticks....
Q. Anything new?
A. Well, in the indoors field I found an interesting line of ecology games in the J. C. Penney catalog—things like Population and Smog and Dirty Water—for $9.95 each. You can even get kits to analyze water and air. Ought to be very big this season in places like Passaic and L.A.
Q. What's the silliest gift you found?
A. That's a tough one. Some lady in Alaska has a line of native jewelry made from moose leavings, if you know what I mean. Can you imagine paying $1.75 for moose leavings?
Q. What else?
A. If you have any golfers on your list, you might consider giving them their very own movie of the U.S. Open—Nicklaus at Baltusrol, Jacklin at Hazeltine, Trevino at Merion. They're 16-mm. prints and are sold by the U.S. Golf Association, 40 East 38th St., New York City 10016. Cost between $100 and $350. You can also rent them if you live in the New York area.
Q. Anything for fishermen?
A. Would you be baiting me? The fishing-tackle industry goes crazy at Christmastime. Out in California there's an outfit called Sports Liquidators—get it? Fishing, water, liquid....
Q. We get it.
A. Yeah, well, they've got this fishhook sneller and knot tier for $1. It does clinch, barrel and blood knots, loops, drop loops, tapered leaders and it also splices line. Just the thing for a fisherman with a broken line. You could write to Box 733, Dept. FFG, Sun Valley, Calif. 91352.
And Santa went absolutely wild over this one—a pop-up signal for ice fishermen that goes off when a fish strikes. Works even in below-zero temperatures. You can adjust it for the size and type of fish. You get it from the Worth Company, Dept. FFG, Stevens Point, Wis. 54481. Costs $5.49. I predict a lot of smoked halibut around the North Pole this spring.
Q. How about hunters?
A. Would you ecology fans believe an elephant-skin briefcase? Also an elephant hair charm bracelet for the little woman, hung with golden heads of elephant, Cape buffalo, sable antelope, lion and greater koodoo. The briefcase goes for $96.50. Charming the little lady will cost you $235, plus a postage stamp to Klineburger, Jonas Brothers, 1507 12th Ave., Seattle, Wash. 98122.
Q. You don't think that's a little rich?
A. It beats moose droppings. But what would you say to a camouflage kit that makes any boat into a portable duck blind for $29.95? Sven, our dwarf in St. Paul, says you can get it from the L-Z Company there, at 1881 Rice St., Zip 55101.
Q. Has he tried it?
A. Nope. He's a tennis buff. Wanted to play at Forest Hills but it's closed to anybody under 3'7". He did send us a note about a miniature green-felt court he picked up. It's got a freestanding net and goes on any tabletop, floor or patio. Great for indoor sports, if their wives aren't too fussy about the crockery. The set includes four rackets and six balls. We ordered 4,016,249 of them for this year. They go for $10, plus 50¢ postage, at Tennis Anyone? Box 321, Northfield, Ill. 60093.
Q. Have you finished your ice cream? It's getting dark outside.
A. Dark? Hey, I got just the thing for people afraid of the dark. It's called Coolite, and it's just out. It works on the same principle as the firefly—no batteries, heat, smoke, flame or any of that junk. Two liquid chemicals get mixed together when you bend this plastic tube and break a glass vial inside. The tube lights up like a green fluorescent light. Goes for three hours. Great for survival kits, campers, skin divers. Only $1.49 each, from the Coolite people at 485 Madison Avenue, New York City 10022.
Q. Thanks for the tips. It certainly looks like a sporting Yuletide. We'll all be listening for the old sleighbells....
A. Don't listen too hard. We're thinking of switching to a golf cart. Blitzen has a bowed tendon and....