The Key(chain) to a Great Birthday Gift

A non-buying guide.

We all make mistakes. We try to do our own taxes, we think the latest Pirates of the Caribbean installment might be kind of fun, we eat ice cream even though we’re lactose intolerant, and every once in a while we temporarily go insane and ask our parents what they want for their birthdays. After committing that last blunder like some kind of having-parents greenhorn, my mother texted me back after thinking about my question for SEVERAL DAYS with this:

“A nice key chain.”

Several times I started to text back, then stopped, because making sure your mother isn’t having some kind of breakdown is worth an actual phone call. Long story short, my mother was less likely suffering from a very particular form of aphasia and more trying to save me some money and time with what sounds like a simple, inexpensive purchase. It’s like she hadn’t heard of America. Because there aren’t only key chains of ALL the things, but also key chains that I am assuming were until recently housed alongside the Crown Jewels. Below are some of the most absurd and obscene of the key chains (or fobs, if you’re fancy) currently available*:

Lucinda Chambers, former British Vogue fashion director, recently torpedoed any chance of ever working in the industry again when she sat down for an interview with academic journal Vestoj and admitted things like, “The clothes are just irrelevant for most people — so ridiculously expensive” and “I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational?”

I know this $650 Fendi Bug Monster Fur Key Chain made out of calf leather from New Zealand, dyed fox fur from Finland, and dyed goat fur from China isn’t technically clothing, per se, but this certainly counts as “ridiculously expensive” and “irrelevant.” A “bug monster” key chain is something I should be able to buy for my niece from one of those claw vending machines for… okay, probably $650 because those things are impossible and addictive, so fair enough, Fendi.

No. Just no. This rhinestone tiger keychain is the gift your high school best friend Stephanie would get you from Spencer’s for your 16th birthday, and then you would finally see what everyone else had been telling you all along — Stephanie is a monster.

Are you sick of misplacing the key to your secret underground laboratory? Need motivation to stop watching Blade Runner 2049 trailers over and over again and actually go down to what both looks like and, unfortunately, smells like the Bat Cave? Check out this keychain with a name (“Robin,” presumably in homage to Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man and not Batman’s sidekick — Prada didn’t know I was going to write this) and a nonsensical design — saffiano leather body, over-sized arms, knob head, and legs that can’t possibly support the weight of the body, let alone function — that should frustrate you out of procrastination faster than Harrison Ford in the Millennium Falcon (because a Star Wars reference works better than a call back to Blade Runner 2049, okay?).

Tracy K. Smith is a fantastic and deserving US Poet Laureate, but if I were her I would relinquish my throne immediately and make it my life’s mission to find the person who wrote “A liquid-shine gunmetal finish enhances the aquatic appeal of a shark-tooth key chain that adds a bit of bite to your style” about a $320 joke and make him or her my personal guru.

This is a leather egg. It costs $245.

According to, the average wage for a lifeguard is $9.18 per hour. This keychain which I actually really like is on sale, down to $79 from $115. Ignoring taxes, a lifeguard would need to work 8.6 hours. To afford a keychain. That I actually think is super cute. And am going to buy for my mother unless someone helps me find something better/cheaper stat. Dammit.

*Though if you really want to be gobsmacked, check out these designers’ “bag charms” — basically Christmas ornaments for your purse, I guess? — which are usually worth more than my 2008 Chevy Aveo.