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Step 1. Out of the blue, make an observation that the house, garage, or whatever, is cluttered with stuff you never use. Continue making this observation for several weeks.
Step 2. Suddenly exclaim, “Honey, I’ve got an idea! I’m going to sell items I’m no longer using or need from around the house!” In reality, you are cleaning out junk to make room for the gear you’ve dreamed about forever (she doesn’t know this yet, but may suspect something is in the air). Gather items for a week or two, randomly removing items with sentimental value, holding them while you sip beer in the garage. Mumble to yourself and re-insert them back into the pile. Try to muster a tear or two occasionally. Appear to be in deep thought. Invite friends over to look at the pile with you. It helps to sell a guitar or two—not ones that work, of course, (in fact, you should actually acquire some at a garage sale just for this purpose… but whenever you’re asked, they’re the treasured family heirlooms from Uncle Ned).
Step 3. Only put your stuff in the pile. Make certain you find enough to sell to exceed your target financial goal by at least 20–30 percent. These funds will be used for manipulation… er, persuasion… later in the process.
Step 4. Say something in the middle of the process about how this is much bigger and more profitable than you thought it would ever be. At this point, feel free to accept her items too, but only at her suggestion. Make certain to exactly account for each item she sells. Craftier men take a 20–30 percent commission on the sale of her items, though children may need to be bribed for this to work. This is the “holdback money” you may need later for just this purpose.
Step 5. Let her make a few suggestions about what to do with the money, then volunteer, “Wow, with all the money I’m making, I could get you a new patio set, a pile of rocks for the garden, a yard gnome for the front yard, a health club membership, a ruby turtle necklace, etc., that you’ve always dreamed of.” Be careful to keep any chuckling under your breath as you lure her into your web of deception. “We’ll save the rest for the kid’s education.” Throw in some pearls (faux of course), a new set of fingernails, and some lingerie, and you’re a true hero. Now she knows you truly are the knight in shining armor that you pretend to be.
Step 6. She now realizes you are doing the work for her—what a labor of love. This impression may last for anywhere from several hours to several days. Be aware of this and be prepared to move through the next few steps in an expedited fashion. Time is of the essence, and a man who doesn’t act quickly will risk losing it all to Mickey Mouse or Chuck E. Cheese.
Step 7. Casually drop a comment: “Honey, I had a dream last night about a guitar and I realized it is the one that I... oh, never mind… it’s a guy thing... ” This is the time to improvise and to be sincere. Dry eyes will get you nowhere. She will be putty in your hands.
Step 8. Problem solved. Get out the charge card, bring home the gear, ice down the beer, enjoy! For advanced guys: it’s often best to immediately damage whatever you bought. Render it “non-returnable” before you arrive home. Zipper rash, headstock dent, Carpenter’s putty, and bullet hole decals can all be brought into play here to make a more realistic wound.
Step 9. There is no “out of pocket” expense. This is your mantra. Repeat it over and over.
Step 10. Play your new axe often! Always treat this one as special.
Brian Cravens has owned, or is in the process of arranging a second mortgage to own, virtually one of every Fender amp made in the 1960s. Many ‘60s and ‘70s Marshalls have also found a home under his roof. He helps people in the quest for perfect tone at his Sales Engineer position at Sweetwater. You can reach him at email@example.com.