Feed on

Objects of Desire

What does your stroller say about you? If your answer is “I have a baby”, you have clearly ignored or withdrawn from the stroller competition. Well done!

I am made of weaker stuff and have gotten sadly caught up in both what I need in stroller (that is, basic performance issues) and what I want in a stroller (that is, style and, if I’m honest, brand associations). I’ve now chosen a stroller three times, and each time has taken more thought than I ever thought possible, as I’ve weighed the form, function, and statement of various models.

The stroller Matt and I both really wanted in the first place was a Bugaboo. Friends have one, and it rolled like a dream and was a beauty to behold. It wasn’t meant to be, however, because the Bugaboo is an exotic creature here in Kentucky and says things about its owner’s social status that are at odds with our life. Then there’s the small matter of its price. If our parents found out we dropped $800 for a stroller, they’d have had a collective stroke. And if my friend Cindy-the most doggedly anti-consumerist person I have ever known–found out, the teasing would have been merciless.

So we eschewed the Bugaboo and got the practical Graco for one eighth of the cost. The thing is, the Graco was not built for open grass, gravel paths, dirt trails, or busted up sidewalks in hundred-year-old neighborhoods. Which is to say, it wasn’t designed for the beating I gave it. So last fall, I upgraded to a Revolution Bob. It rolled fantastically, turned on a dime, and cost just enough to seem like an indulgence but not so much that I had to lie about it.

Now I’ve just purchased a new umbrella stroller because the Bob is bulky for quick trips, and our $20 umbrella stroller-the one Matt purchased at 1:00 a.m. at Wal-Mart the night before a flight last year- is rinky-dink and too short. My new umbrella stroller is a Maclaren. It’s well made, stylish, and British; embarrassingly, this last bit add to its appeal for me. I also got it for fifty percent off the list price by surfing e-Bay for 2007 models. They rev these sucker each year like cars! Can you imagine?

I am well aware of how ridiculous this all is. Somehow, all over Louisville and the US, people are getting by just fine with the Gracos, Jeeps, Chicos, and even rinky-dink $20 umbrella strollers I have convinced myself aren’t quite up to the job. Across the world, people somehow manage to convey their kids around by strapping them on their backs with odd lengths of fabric.

But you know, perspective is a funny thing. I have recently run across the ne plus ultra of stylish strollers, the stroller next to which all others fade and appear economical and modest: Behold the Silver Cross Heritage Balmoral Stroller.

This, I tell you, is the logical extreme of stroller one-upmanship. I love the Balmoral in all of its painted with three-coats of high gloss laquer, assembled by hand, constructed with a steel suspension, equipped with a numbered plaque, costing $2,995 glory. What better way to win the stroller wars, to silence those advocating the relative merits of the Bob vs. the Bugaboo vs. the Xplory vs. the Maclaren vs. the Quinny than to convey your little heir (and surely”heirs” and not “babies” ride in these suckers) in something this simultaneously glorious and ridiculous.

Can you leave the Balmoral on your porch over-night? Outside a cafĂ© while you eat? Can you gate-check it the airport or wedge it into your trunk? No, no, no, and no. All of which adds to its impractical charm. The Balmoral’s grandiosity is surpassed only by its design limitations. So far as I can tell, unless you are living on a grand estate along the lines of the Palace at Versailles, you will be afraid and unable to take the majestic Silver Cross Balmoral with you.

That fine English actress Helena Bonham-Carter has one only adds fuel to the fire of my longing. That horrid LA “actress” Tori Spelling also has one keeps this instinct in check. I long to see someone push this here in Louisville, so that I may simultaneously envy and deride them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.