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Back-to-school shopping with Goofus and Gallant

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Simcha Fisher - published on 08/18/16

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Last year, I did a Geek-themed back-to-school feature, and that was fun (although there was some eminently geeky squabbling over whether some items were truly geeky, or more nerdy, or shading into dorkiness, or whether they had crossed so far into the mainstream that they were the equivalent of Chrissy Teigen wearing glasses; i.e., really not geeky at all.

So this year, I’m attacking the problem from a different angle. Never mind the geeks; how does one shop for Goofus and Gallant?

Gallant is a classy guy, and expects all school supplies to be both well-made and practical, and in good taste; and it’s okay if they’re a little bit on the pricey side, because that child takes both school and personal dignity seriously.

But Goofus is just basically a rat boy or rat girl, who is openly proud of making the math teacher cry; and there will be no peace at home until mom orders a cartload of ridiculous office supplies to fend off her guilt from hiding from the little booger all summer. Here’s how you do . . .


Let’s start with the locker.

Gallant wants a locker that sets the tone for a marvellous day. Gently twist the combination, swing open the door, and voila: a little alcove of refinement amid the hustle and bedlam of the hallway. Oh yes, there’s Locker Wallpaper – assorted colors and patterns, $19.99

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Because something tells me Gallant gets shoved into his locker a lot, so he might as well have something nice to look at while he’s waiting for the custodian to rescue him again.

Your standard issue Goofus, however, is going to need something a little different with which to decorate his locker. Check it out:

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500 biohazard stickers, $6.99. These are not novelty biohazard stickers, they are just biohazard stickers. If you have sons age 12 and over, 500 may not be enough.

Speaking of biohazards, think on this: Wasn’t it Flaubert who had a theory about the power of scents? Why not send your little lovely off to face the world armed with a different itsy bitsy little scented candle to make their locker or desk smell pleasant. You can change up the aroma every month with a mixed bag of ten scented votive candles from Yankee Candle, which, in my experience (I spent an entire summer working at a gift shop) has the most penetrating, insistent scent:

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Goofus, on the other hand, would probably get more use out of 72 individually wrapped fahrt bohmbs for under $10:

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I know, only 72. Maybe you should put this item on subscription.
Oh, this seems like as good a time as any to tell you about this browser extension called Honey.

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Once you install it, this cute little “h” quietly follows you around the internet and shows up when you’re buying stuff, and it tells you if you’ve found a good deal, or if you’re being a tremendous sucker and can save money somewhere else. Very unintrusive, occasionally super useful. Like when you’re . . . shopping for 72 fahrt bohmbs for under $10.

Onward and upward!

Feast your peepers on this onward-and-upward-style Leather Pencil Pouch, $19.99, side view:

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Several of my friends assure me that this is the pencil pouch to have. It comes in black or brown and is elegant, versatile, and durable, and will stay with your child in and out of years because it has a homing device* for when the little peabrain leaves it on the bus again.

*Not really. But it’s very nice!

And here is one that is, on the other hand, shaped like a banana.

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Me not going to lie to you: me not think this would fit an awful lot of pencils in it. But, it is shaped like a banana. $6.97.

Bonus idea: Pencil case shaped like a fish, and the inside of it looks like a fish inside. Boy, oh boy.

Pencils! You will need pencils. Compliment Gallant’s excellent penmanship and studious diagrams with a top-of-the-line Pentel P205 Gilded Series Mechanical Pencil for Drafting:

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This is, according to my Gallant-type friends, “the queen of mechanical drafting pencils,” and very lovely she is. Comes in your choice of colors, with a gift box. There’s also a less deluxe version (non gilded, no box) for $10 less.

Or p’raps you’d rather just take that fancy pencil and let your natural stabbiness shine through with something a little more cheapski and in bad tasteski like the Dead Fred Pencil Holder:

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$2.88. And check out the dead man’s book mark, the rubber band mummy, and Splat Stan the tragic coaster. I do not approve of Stress Ball Paul, though. I ain’t squeezing that.

But fountain pens! Oh, how I love fountain pens. If you have a spare $55 lying around, gathering dust, maybe throw it at the TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen with EF nib.

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Ain’t she purty? Think of the calligraphizing you can do. Everything looks smarter when it’s written with a fountain pen.
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 Eh? Eh? $5.41.
I guess I have a bit of Gallant in me, because I find this stainless steel, BPA-free, three-part, stackable lunch box set immensely appealing. Look how shiny:
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Just think . . . I wouldn’t have to buy 200 sandwich bags every stinking week. $24.95 for the set.

Or, for a different kind of elegance, we’ve had luck with this style of neoprene lunch bag:
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You can throw it in the wash, and this one is quite large, and has a lifetime guarantee. There are endless styles of neoprene lunch bags in every pattern and design, priced from less than $10.

Or, for no kind of elegance whatsoever, you could supply your child with this demure little number, which, the company helpfully notes, is “larger than an actual eyeball.”
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$14.66, and surely worth every penny.

To be honest, I couldn’t decide if this next item would be best for Goofus or Gallant, so let’s just ask :who among us does not need a Crocodile staple remover?
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How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little staples in
With gently smiling jaws, $9.95.

Pair it with this dragon head stapler (uses standard-sized staples), and let them fight it out. $15.99:

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Is it okay with you all if I drop the Goofus and Gallant/classy and silly thing and just post a bunch of awesome stuff? Whew.


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Now you know! And it changes color when you touch it! $25.95.

That famous picture of Albert Einstein making that goofy face is ju-u-u-u-u-u-ust about all worn out, but before it goes, here’s something:

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$10.17, but it’s not a toy. So only put paper clips on Einstein’s head without having fun.

Whether there is a uniform or not, most schools frown on wearing underwear on the outside like Superman and Batman do. But that shouldn’t stop your kid from being a secret superhero on the inside:

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No kidding, this could actually help a nervous kid through a tough day if everyone thinks he’s mild-mannered elementary school student Nerdy McPunchmyface . . . but he knows he has a secret identity.

And, this being 2016, superhero underpants come in adult sizes, too, for men and women; but I’m going to let you do that particular internet search yourself.

Next: Gorgeous little bags and clutches. My friend Elisa, who is the manic genius and agile fingers behind Door Number 9, has an amazing variety of hand-made pouches, bags, and wallets in various sizes. Maybe your kid can’t stop raving about Hamilton? Here’s a gorgeous little fully-lined zip clutch in the shape of a letter to Eliza Hamilton:

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Best of wives and best of women. Ahhhh. Or here’s a smaller zippered pouch for a kid who knows his chemistry:

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Heavy metals, ha! We love Door Number 9’s lovingly handmade, awesomely thinky products, including religious goods, badge holders, tea wallets, jewelry, original art, and more.

So, backpacks have gotten weird, huh? Here’s one I haven’t seen anyone toting around:

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Blocky! There are also, of course, backpacks studded with bubbles,

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backpacks to transform you into a metallic turtle bristling with spikes, and of course a Pangolin backpack made of recycled innertubes:

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Lest you should worry you’re not getting your $240’s worth of value from this backpack as seen on X-MEN: Days of Future Passed, one reviewer says he did fit a medium-sized watermelon inside.

Back in the sane world, I want everyone to have this fish backpack. EVERYONE.

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$17.99, and you can choose tons of colors. Looks like it doesn’t hold very much, but how can you be gloomy with a flashy, happy, fishy coming along to school with you?

Speaking of tons of color, I can’t believe you were thinking of sending your child off to school without a Zen Chicken Meditative Coloring Book.

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$10.26, you monster.

You already planned, however, to stock up on bull erasers, $5.49 each:

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Doesn’t this seem like the best possible way to rub out your mistakes? Or, for goodness sakes, a handful of these peanut erasers, $3.50 the set.

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Did I just find myself scrolling down to the bottom of the page to find out if they were nut-free? Yes, I did. And that’s the most back-to-school thing of all.

Maybe your kids will luck out and get one of those teachers who insists that kids use silent hand signals — two fingers, quiet coyote, and so on — to let the teacher know what it is that they want before they even speak. So, this is needful:

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Me, teacher! Call on me! $13.99. Call on me!

And last but not yep: Door Number 9 just listed a flock of hilarious alien earrings like this pair:

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These kill me. Back to school,

yep yep yep

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