Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things to Avoid: Buying a Star for a Friend

I was looking for a unique gift to give a friend.

Maybe “friend” is too strong of a word. We are not yet “friends”, at least not in the truest sense of the word. I would classify us as “acquaintances”. However, I have a feeling that this acquaintanceship period of our relationship is about to mature and we are going to cross over the threshold into friendship. To make sure this happens, I want to find a great present that displays how funny and clever I am, without spending a lot of money. The problem is this: I am not entirely confident about the likes and dislikes of this person or the things she would like or not like to receive as a gift.

As I was searching I stumbled upon an internet company that claims to sell stars that you can purchase and name. I was intrigued. This could be a great gift, even for the person who has everything. What are the odds that they already own their very own star?

So I began to think about this in earnest. How would this work? Do I get to choose precisely which star I want, like choosing the perfect plum in the produce section of the grocery store or is a star doled out to me at random? Do I get to choose a hot, bright blue white star at the beginning of its celestial life, or would I be assigned a dimming red giant, a star that could go supernova and blow up any day now? And if it did suddenly give up the ghost in a cosmic explosion, would I get a refund or would another star be assigned to me? What is the warranty that comes with a star?

And further, do I get to choose the star’s location as well? Like a house, I am fussy as to the neighborhood that the star is in. Would it be in the posh constellation “Leo the Lion” or the less than cool constellation “Cecil the Hedgehog”? Where this star is located says a lot about the person you are… I would think.

Then finally, if you get a star named after you, do you actually own the star? Do you get a deed of some sort? Do you get any particular rights that come with owning a star? For example, if planets are discovered to orbit your star, do you also own them and any real estate if any of those planets are deemed habitable? Are there any taxes for this?

This lead to a terrifying thought: What if life was discovered on a planet orbiting a star that was named after you?

I could see the headline now:

WE ARE NOT ALONE! Conclusive Evidence of Extraterrestrial Life Discovered
August 2, 2020. A binary code message recorded last week was confirmed today by astronomers to have originated from Beta Bernice Smith, the second planet orbiting the star Bernice Smith, a G class yellow dwarf star much like our sun. This star, which is barely visible to the naked eye, is 243 million light years away and is located in the constellation Lyra. Bernice Smith, for whom the star was named as a birthday present nearly a decade ago, could not be immediately reached for comment.

I suspect that if this were to happen, I would feel much the same way I would feel if I gave someone a lottery ticket as a gift and they won. I would feign being thrilled for them, but then I would expect them to share at least half of their winnings with me. This is why it is my personal policy not to give lottery tickets as gifts. And perhaps, this should also be the reason not to buy a star for an acquaintance.

So, I decided not to give my friend a star for their birthday. However, if you feel so inclined, you can name a star after me. I think “Calvin” is a great name for a star, as long as you don’t mind getting a gift certificate to Dunkin’ Donuts from least until I get to know you a little better.

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1 comment:

  1. Calvin in the best name for a star. Because when they find out who owns their star, the aliens of a neighboring planet will want to come visit us and since we share a name with their star we Calvins will be GODS to them. Or they will make us their pets. Either way we get a really great basket bed with our names on them and you know finding ANYTHING with our names on them is a bitch.