With Valentine's Day now hoving into view there is an accompanying trend that arises in tandem with grim inexorability each year. As the last few shops that could conceivably sell romantic merchandise - a divide I would say marked by Homebase - there comes to the fore a slew of bizarre products that are seemingly created with the intention of bolstering relationships, but which in reality are a font of trauma.
Each year ushers forth a new range of gadgets, and gizmos that are explicitly aimed at people who are utterly terrible at purchasing appropriate Valentine's gifts for their partner. The 'Double Slanket' perhaps seems the most obvious example of this. The slanket is essentially a duvet with sleeves, and is designed to allow people to relax in comfort on their own couches as if they were in bed. The 'double slanket' is a larger version of the same that possesses two sets of sleeves, thereby allowing a couple to uncomfortably vie for limited space under a large duvet before they have the privilege of baking themselves to death from the potent maelstrom of thermally insulated body heat. The double slanket ensures that their dehydrated and withered bodies will be found, still reposing on the couch, some days later by a concerned neighbour who has seen their post piling up.
One imagines that when the PR team behind the double slanket were trying to conceive of who their target market would be, they envisaged a confused man who had ill-conceivedly purchased his girlfriend a canoe for Valentine's Day the year previously and, having been chastised for 'not understanding romance', is seeking to purchase something that seems over-bearingly 'cutesy'. It is to this man, to this unspecified, confused male, that this rapidly expanding market of baffling, cuddle-ware seems to be targeted. And it is a trend to which this pillow, designed specifically to help enable spooning, belongs.
It is entitled, 'The Coodle', and it is heinous. Even typing that agonisingly faux-cutesy word caused every single sphincter within my body to wither and tighten to such an extent that I worry I'll be incapable of going to the bathroom for the rest of this calendar month. It is, to not put to fine a point on things, an arched pillow made of foam and bolstered by four rigid plastic supports which enable the spooner to slide their arm under the head of the spoonee without any weight being put on it and thus avoid the risk of their arm going dead.
Now, imagine, if you were to invite some friends round your house. They arrive, you hang their coats on the new coat-stand you've purcahsed for your flat/ leave them in a heap in an adjacent room and afterwards hope that the neighbour's cat doesn't push open the broken window and urinate on them all. While you are showing your friends, Gil and Meryl, around your flat, imagine Gil pipes up with, "Much as I'm enjoying the tour you're giving and the accompanying food - the crisp medley in particular was inspired, whoever said 'ready salted' and 'prawn cocktail' didn't belong in the same bowl? - I must ask, what in the name of sodomy is that by your couch?".
You have to stare down, stare down at the baffling foam object that lies next to your couch, the baffling foam object that cost $65 dollars and which you had to have delivered via Parcel Motel as, as of time of writing, they don't deliver to Ireland, and then you look at Gil - who you've known since school - and say to him, "That? That's a Coodle Gil... It's a custom-made device to aid spooning. I bought it for Sandra for Valentine's Day. But we've barely used it."
After a seemingly interminable pause where you can literally see the remains of Gil's respect for you drain from his eyes. You offer to get Gil and Meryl's coats so they can leave. They gratefully accept.
No matter how good a crisp medley you'd created, a friendship can only bear so much.