November 29, 2014

Power Shopper

Our cheery power shopper was melancholy this week. I could barely rouse myself out of bed once the holidays ended. No more glittering lights, carbs without guilt or (sob!) presents. Don’t accuse me of being selfish, I don’t just love to get presents, I also love to give them, because giving means ... shopping!

How did I manage to pull myself out of it? I simply looked at the calendar and realized there was a primo gift-giving moment right around the corner: Valentine’s Day! I’m lucky enough to adore my husband, and he deserves the finest of love tokens on Feb. 14, but I’ve always had a problem figuring out what it is he really wants.

So this month, stalwart shopping buddy Montese Crandall has been replaced (I know, I know, but she’ll be back with her charge card and rapier wit soon) by the man himself.

That’s right. I’m going shopping with my husband, Richard the Beloved. My bravery is inspiring, isn’t it? I should have a road named after me. Or at least a deli sandwich.

But no woman has ever had a successful shopping trip with a hungry husband. It’s to be a particularly masculine day, so we start off with a particularly masculine lunch at Pastrami Dan’s. It doesn’t get more manly than hot pastrami, does it? (Hint No. 1: Ask for a side of mayonnaise. If you’re throwing caution and size-four capris to the wind, might as well live it up. Plus it horrifies pastrami purists.)

For all men of taste and distinction, a great watch is a must—and the siren song of Exquisite Timepieces in The Village on Venetian Bay begins as soon as we’re back on U.S. 41. Plan to spend some time learning about watchmakers you might not be familiar with. Rolex? Fine timepieces, to be sure, and Rich even sports one, but let’s talk about Jaegar-LeCoultre, shall we?

When manager Steve Richardson opens the box containing the Titanium Minute Repeater with its gray crocodile band and skeletal, open-worked movement, angels burst into song, and Rich’s eyes glow with a fervor not seen since my brief experiment with micro-minis in 1991. Only 200 of these watches exist worldwide, and to quote that sage of 1986, Ferris Bueller: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

It even comes with its very own loupe so you can inspect all the intricate and exquisitely presented inner-workings. This isn’t a watch. This isn’t a timepiece. This is Pure Art.

I ask to move on before my husband offers all his worldly goods—including yours truly—in trade, and we say goodbye to the watch of the gods. But the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph is no slouch, either. I’m struck by the 18-karat, yellow-gold links shaped like Maltese crosses, but my husband is impressed by its pleasing heft. I envision a workout regimen in which he builds up a stellar left bicep simply because I constantly ask him what time it is.

Still, the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph is more our speed. Its sporty, black rubber band and stainless steel case are water resistant up to 1,000 meters. Not that either of us dive but I fantasize a future in which we need to know how much air we have left while stalking 2-pound lobsters.

Next we head north to Waterside Shops. I’m considering a romantic weekend getaway. (Hint No. 2: Check out the Ritz-Carlton, Naples’ "Ultimate Splendor" package at www.ritzcarl ton.com. Limos, champagne, flowers, truffles, gift certificates, massages, the Presidential Suite, guided art gallery tours, the list goes on. Hold me, I’m in a swoon just thinking about it.) A luggage upgrade is in order.

Louis Vuitton takes men’s packing needs seriously with their "Damier Géant" collection, which features a subtle, black-on-black, checkerboard pattern and includes two weekend bags. The "Aventurier" is shaped like a large bowling bag, with a sturdy handle and two outside pockets. It’s large enough for two days of clothing and toiletries and looks James Bond sleek. But the larger, duffel-bag-inspired "Souverain" is roomy enough for you to steal a corner for additional shoes and has a wide, comfortable shoulder strap (not that I’d be carrying the bag, but, hey, I’m trying to consider Rich’s comfort).

Speaking of my husband, he’s looking slightly strained by now, but I’ve anticipated this and have saved the best for last.

What could be a more perfectly masculine gift when you’re in the mood for a major treat than a Hummer? Rich brightens considerably when we wheel into DeVoe Hummer and get the lowdown on the "vehicle-as-present" phenomenon. Sales manager Geoffrey M. Patrick will make your Valentine’s Day a serious event with the delivery of a luxurious yet rugged H2 or H3. (Hint No. 3: A surprise of this magnitude takes planning, from financial paperwork and delivery concerns to getting that big red bow made. Give the dealership some notice. Expect a week or two for a flawless experience.)

In order for Valentine’s Day to be a success, I must decline to reveal what I settled on for a present, but I hope I’ve given you some ideas. After all, whether it’s a token or an all-out splurge, men need love, too.

The Mission
Figure out what men want.

The Contenders

Exquisite Timepieces, The Village on Venetian Bay
Jaeger-LeCoultre Minute Repeater,$135,000
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, $37,600
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph, $4,500

Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Vanderbilt Beach Road
Ultimate Splendor Package, $30,000

Louis Vuitton, Waterside Shops
Aventurier Noir, $1,610
Souverain Noir, $1,730

DeVoe Hummer, U.S. 41, Bonita Springs
Starting, $29,995
Loaded up, $64,645