True, Madame Sarkozy might love it. She is, after all, a tastemaker. Still, we wanted to see what they had at a few smaller shops. Hmmm. A bobble-headed decoy owl? Perhaps Carla could use it to keep pigeons off statues of her husband? No...
Then we came upon the Goodwill Gospel Store, which promised that we'd be able to "Give a Gift with Spiritual Importance."
"Look, hanging in the window!" I screamed. "It's the gift that perfectly reconciles Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's rock 'n' roll, freewheeling past, her new diplomatic role as a high-profile political wife, and her much-maligned singing career!" It was perfect: a tambourine in the shape of a peace dove. It really said it all, and for the low, low price of $21.99.
With that, we turned to the grueling task of shopping for Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Since they are quintessential show people and are no doubt on the road a great deal of the time, living out of Louis Vuitton steamer trunks in six-star hotels with SWAT teams of hair and makeup artists, we wanted to find them something that would strike the right balance of sophisticated flair and down-home comfort.
We came upon a $14 pair of boxer shorts covered with bags of money hanging on a rack in front of a clothing store (unlike Phat Albert, many of the smaller places have no visible names), which we thought Mr. Z might appreciate. Another nameless discount store had a fantastic 3-D chart for identifying the different hair bun attachments it sold. Perhaps, we agreed, we could buy Beyoncé half a dozen of the various $7 "donut buns" and throw them into a Krispy Kreme box for extra whimsy! But neither of these options was really singing to us, maybe because they didn't speak to the couple's celebrated togetherness, which was the original sentiment behind buying them one gift.
"Oh, stop—these are it," Charlie suddenly enthused as we passed a small, anonymous shoe store. "These bandanna slippers are absolutely Runway Collection 2009!"
"Actually," said Gary, "they are really nice."
The price: $19.99.
We decided to buy red slippers for Beyoncé and blue for Jay-Z. Besides satisfying our criteria (snazzy yet relaxing), since Mr. and Mrs. Z "tied the knot," this matching-scarf footwear could serve as a lasting symbol of a peaceful Hollywood marriage.
I was very pleased so far...but I didn't feel we'd completely succeeded with Brad, so we wandered into a store called Gran Bwa that featured items of a West Indian nature.
"Hey, these could be great for Brad," said Gary.
The air in the room started shimmering, because he had, indeed, found some divine objects: a stack of six child-size straw porkpie hats. They were utterly hip, as if designed for miniature jazz musicians. We figured if Brad could manage to get all of his adorable children to wear the hats at the same time, like a global version of the Partridge Family, he could sell the photo to a tabloid for more than $4 million and donate the proceeds to the charity of his choice.