Bonus blog post!

“And I want a personal trainer, and some creepy dolls, and I want … and I want …”

And by that I mean “a blog post about bonuses.”

I’m lucky to work at a company that thanks its employees for hard work with year-end bonuses. Instead of being holiday-centered, these are performance-based in that at the end of the fiscal year, if the company hits a certain percent profit margin, all of the employees share in it — equally.

Last week we learned that we hit our goal; they’ll announce the actual bonus amount on Wednesday, I think, but the prospect of additional cash was enough to make me pull out my remedial math skills and crunch some numbers:

(P x M) / E

where P = total profit, in dollars, M = profit margin, in percent, and E = total number of employees (counted from staff directory, adjusted for employees who’ve been there less than three months). After taxes, according to my calculations … let’s say it’s not enough to fund a 17-inch MacBook Pro but still a nice development to start the new year.

I remember watching the early incarnation of Wheel of Fortune, when the winners would be presented with a room full of prizes, resulting in a manic 60 seconds where they’d stand and rattle off the items they wanted (instead of now, when they get cash). This weekend was sort of like that for me; I started daydreaming about what, after allotting 10% for charity, I’d spend my earnings — oh, yes, I consider a performance-based bonus earnings — on.

Practicality came first, of course — pay off credit cards! Add to 401(k)! — but quickly got stampeded by retail madness. I’m surprised how many items I’ve bookmarked as “things I would consider buying, if I had the money.” To wit:

Silverware by the pound

This Thanksgiving we had 10 people at the dinner tables, and when I was putting out the place settings the night before, the crazy-matchy part of me was all aggrieved because someone was getting saddled with silverware that didn’t match everyone else’s. Like he or she was going to stand up and walk out because their fork had a different handle. (Just in case, though, I put the mismatched pieces at my spot at the table.) NapaStyle has the cool idea to sell vintage silver-plated flatware that’s a collection of different patterns. Everything matches because nothing matches! I already do that with champagne glasses, so this would fit nicely, and plus I could mix in my grandparents’ silver flatware that I already have … uh, out in the garage, where I never use it because it requires polishing. Pass.

Another print to be framed

Open a coat closet in this house and chances are you’ll come across a mailing tube that contains a piece of art that needs to be mounted and framed: This print from Public School. This “Newspaper Blackout” from Austin Kleon. I think I’m still carting around a giant map of Montana, too. (My Shag lithograph and the “Phoenix” silkscreen poster from The Heads of State are pretty much the only things that have made it to the framer so far.) Being so far behind doesn’t preclude me from liking the concept of Postertext prints, which use the actual text of publications to create a scene told in the published piece. (The Great Gatsby is above, but they’ve got everything from Moby Dick to Pride and Prejudice.)

But I don’t know if I like any of them enough to pull the trigger: Dracula‘s art is pretty cool, for example, but what does it say to someone who walks in your house and sees a vampire picture? Or a guy climbing to the guillotine in A Tale of Two Cities? I don’t love any of the books enough to put it on my own wall, but if I ever become friends with an Odyssey nut, I’ll have a great gift at my fingertips. (And my friend Richie would love this poster of movie monsters.) I might, however, spring for this Periodic Table of Typefaces print that I first saw in the book Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield. (And a big public thank-you to Sharyn for making it a lovely and fitting present. I dare say her acuity in gift-giving tops even mine.)

A new mattress

When I stayed with my sister, even their fifth-wheel had a Sleep Number mattress. (I know, because that’s where I slept, so my niece and nephew wouldn’t wake me up at 6 a.m.) After I spent a half-hour trying out all the different settings, I slept like the dead. And when I travel for work, I have come to appreciate the hotels that have quality beds in the rooms.

I did not go the quality route more than a decade ago, when I purchased my mattress and box spring for like $250 at the neighborhood store, plopped a foam egg-crate mattress pad on top and called it good. Now that it’s 10+ years old, I’m thinking it’s time to replace it with a Sleep Number bed. But that’s a bit of delayed gratification, because I’d have to wait until the President’s Day sales.

A really sharp blue suit

I’ve always had the jones to own a really nice suit. I once did an article about the difference between made-to-measure suits and the off-the-rack-and-tailored kind, and it made me ugly with covetousness for about a week afterward: I wanted the sort of life where I could walk in to Neiman Marcus and be fitted for a suit that would be created specifically to fit my frame from the ground up, instead of one that already was proportioned for the Average Guy and whose alterations still wouldn’t look as custom-fit. It would be like the dude equivalent of that scene in Pretty Woman, and I wanted it in blue so I would look extra lean and lanky.

So, giddy with the promise of bonus cash, I headed to Neiman Marcus’ website and found the beautiful suit at right. I would look just like the guy model, wouldn’t I? Yes, of course I would. Totally worth the — oh, wait, no. $1,300. Now, granted, that’s what I get for browsing at Neiman Marcus and not, say, Ted Baker or Charles Tyrwhitt — but those suits look … well, less sexy, even in the companies’ own promotional photos. But where exactly would I be wearing my sexy $1,300 suit? Lately it’s been an effort to even opt for cool trousers instead of jeans. My amazing suit will have to wait until I win the lottery, which is even more unlikely for me than for most people — I never play it because I hate losing even $1 when I could have spent it on, say, a soda. (I am no fun in Vegas casinos. You’ll find me by the pool.)

For now, it’s all just fantasy. In all likelihood, I’ll use part of it to fund a weekend road trip — speaking of, wouldn’t this leather duffel bag from Floto Imports be perfect for that road trip? I’d toss it, packed with haphazardly selected T-shirts and jeans, in the back of my imaginary roadster and take to the open road …

Yeah, it’s gonna be a while before I settle down and decide what I want to buy. It’s more fun that way.

WHAT SAM WORE: 12-13-11
The sweater: Navy/gray argyle cotton V-neck, from Old Navy.
The shirt: Long-sleeved waffle-weave hoodie, from Old Navy.
The pants: Boot-fit trousers from Banana Republic. (Selection inspired by above admission of pants laziness.)
The shoes: Loafers by Rush Gordon Rush, from Nordstrom.
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