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One Last $12 Hot Chocolate For 2021

Some fancy hot chocolate being poured out of a carafe into a nice white mug.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

I do not envy Drew for his relationship with the Williams-Sonoma Catalog. The two are very close, obviously, and at this point even symbiotic, but also the same could be said for the guy who walked around for years of his life with a railroad spike stuck in his head and his relationship with that railroad spike. Each might well require the other at this point, and both are probably enriched in some ways through their relationship. But at some point every year Drew has to do something that basically no one else has to do. Right at the moment that everyone begins putting their brain into energy-saver mode through the end of the calendar year, Drew opens up a catalog and is presented with innumerable things that cost $79.95 and have names like Exquisite Artisan Milk Whistle or FudgeMaster PRO 4500 Signature Edition, which he must then endeavor to describe in ways that are somehow funnier than their very funny names.

That he does it as well as he does every year is admirable, but when you put it up against my role in the whole thing—which is getting the prices of various ridiculous Williams-Sonoma items preposterously wrong on an annual Very Special Edition of the podcast—it is clear which one of us is getting the easier half of the equation. Last year, James Austin Johnson was there to help out. This year, it was just me, Drew, and the weird stirrable hot cocoa wands.

If this is a good deal for me, and all things considered it definitely is, it does not mean that I do not get owned when challenged to name how much I think a FudgeMaster PRO should or anyway would go for, more or less. I got owned, all right, and not in the sort of literal, helpful, no-fuss way that you, too, could own a Harry Potter-branded teakettle or a bunch of proof-n-bake sticky buns for a price very, very different than the ones I guessed. No, I just had the annual experience of feeling and being completely loss in the wilderness of luxury whimsy that defines Williams-Sonoma.

I did better on the things that I sort of idly dream of owning someday, which is not to say that I was all that close on those either, because I wasn’t. But I’ve at least thought of being the type of guy who has really nice kitchen knives or lord willing a pizza oven, whereas I have never once wanted to be someone who opens a box to reveal a dozen “gingerbread boys” or a high-performance double porcelain cocoa mug. And while I am neither of those types of person—I am more precisely at this moment the type of guy who finds himself investigating bus tickets for the day after Christmas because of his personal viral status—I still wrap up this year of podcasts and everything else feeling decently lucky.

In the last minutes of the episode, Drew asked if I felt like I’d had a good year and, while I didn’t hesitate to say “no, not really,” I am glad that I didn’t leave it at that. I didn’t have the year I wanted to have; no one did. But I am here and will be here next year. This website and this podcast will be here next year, too. We will do better—well, I will not do better on this particular challenge come next December, but I plan to improve very strongly in other areas—and, more importantly, we will get to do it all again. Thanks to you all, and with the grace of whatever deity or other force has oversight over worker-owned startup websites, we are making it. I cannot accurately put a price on that, either.

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