It started, as these things so often do, with Neiman Marcus and a pair of cupcake cars.

Bag Lady wanted the pink car with the white frosting piped along the top. Shopping Siren drooled over the chocolate one with the rainbow sprinkles. OK, so we didn’t have $25,000 each to spend on cupcake cars (with matching candy hats!). Nor did we have a need for vehicles that go 7 mph (and come with matching candy hats!). But we were intrigued. Delighted. A little hungry.

And inspired.

If Neiman Marcus can find a selection of fantasy gifts for its Christmas catalog, so can we! Fine, we don’t have a catalog, per se, but we do have a shopping column — and we think that’s even better. So what if we also don’t have the ability to comb the country for the highest end of the high-end gifts ($20,000 artisan wine experience, anyone?). Who needs that when we have the Lewiston-Auburn area and its host of Unique Things We Normally Can’t Afford?

And so what if we don’t have millions of dollars to spend this holiday season? We don’t need money to dream.

Good thing, too.

• Center court season tickets to the new Maine Red Claws,, $600 each
A sweet seat to all 24 home games, an invite to the “exclusive draft party,” plus 15 percent off merch. Go team!

• A balloon ride at 2010’s L-A balloon festival,, $250 (our estimate)
The dates for next year’s festival have been announced (Aug. 20-22), but prices aren’t up yet. People who booked early last year paid $200 a ride. To factor in inflation, we suggest putting aside $250 per person. Spend the extra on wine, chocolates or teeny non-war-torn diamonds.

• Help the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society,, $19,000
fund the cat and dog kennel sponsorship program: $17,600. Sponsor a pet on the Web, a pet on the Adopt-a-Pet Page in the paper and a full Web
site, all for a year: $657. Become a sponsor-level donor: $500. Buy toys, blankets, food, litter and other essentials from the shelter’s wish list: $243. Consider it a la cart; opt for whatever your fantasy budget allows.

• Learn something new every day, Fiddlehead Center for the Arts in Gray,, $923
Based on Fiddlehead’s fall session, our dream schedule would look something like — Monday: Beginner knitting. Tuesday: Beginner/intermediate pottery. Wednesday: Mix of media art class. Thursday: Beginner Spanish. Friday: All-levels yoga. Saturday: Belly dancing lessons followed by flamenco dancing lessons. Sunday: Siesta. Todo el dia (all day).

• Charter a plane for four to New York City, Twin Cities Air Service LLC,, $2,800 round-trip plus $55/hr. wait time; an additional $300 for an overnight trip. Wheels up in Auburn, touch down just outside the Big Apple, shop ’til you drop. Spring for tickets to “Naked Boys Singing!” off Broadway and it’s officially a Weekend To Remember. Really, is there any better gift?

• Spa day, Sarah Jeanne’s Family Hair Care and Day Spa in Lewiston,, $225
Indulge with a one-hour massage, one-hour customized facial, hair styling, manicure, pedicure and a healthy lunch and beverage. Live like a queen! Or a king! (Without fear of being unseated or beheaded. Yeah!)

• A personalized Maineiacs seat at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee,, $200
For the uber fan. A 20-inch decal screams “I SIT HERE” — or whatever less screamy message you choose — and the money goes to the Maineiacs Education Foundation.

• Cleaning services for home or office, K+L Green Clean in Lewiston,, starts at $40 and up
The first selling point that caught our eye: They do cat boxes.
The second? They offer gift certificates.
They also use low-fume, environmentally friendly products. But frankly, they had us at cat boxes. Who hasn’t dreamed about someone else taking over those? And doing the dishes. And the laundry. And vacuuming. And …

Best find: Private showing, Flagship Cinemas in Lewiston,, $15 per person/$300 minimum
Pay for the “Director’s Cut” package and you get a private movie showing, bottomless popcorn and soda, pizza, cake, ice cream, movie poster (if available) and a tour of the projection booth. You don’t have to be a paparazzi-stalked star to enjoy the perks of one.

Think twice: Are you kidding? It’s fantasy! No regrets.
All the same, no selling blood or tissue for any of the above.

And let the fantasy continue
These were our picks; what are yours? Drop us an e-mail, being as specific as possible. If we get enough examples — a year’s worth of car washes, maybe, or flowers every week for 12 months — we’ll devote a second column to it. And if you’re currently driving a cupcake car, pull over and call us. Really.

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who dream of giant cupcakes every night) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] or [email protected]

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