BOSTON. Lissette Neilen is busy handling a rush of last-minute male shoppers at La Boudoir, a nightgown and lingerie shop in this city’s tony Quincy Market shopping area, but she knows things will be even more hectic two days from now when Valentine’s Day presents are returned. “These guys are crazy,” she says after handing a man a dainty little bag with an unmentionable stuffed beneath colored tissue paper. “The thing he bought doesn’t have enough fabric to make a serape for a Chihuahua, there’s no way his wife is wearing it.”
And if the past is an accurate guide to the future, on Thursday the returns of high-fashion, low-coverage lingerie will be almost as great as the store’s sales. “There’s something about the male brain that goes haywire this time of the year,” says Nick di Buonodetto, who covers the erotic underwear beat for US Fashion Daily. “Does it make sense to give the mother of your children something that looks like you got it at a pole dancer’s garage sale?”
This trend, which costs retailers in the end due to the need to mark down or discard returned items, has inspired a counter-reaction that is being met with favor by beleaguered housewives who would prefer jewelry or even a dense chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day: “blockchain” nightgowns, which permit ingress only to those who can crack a secure cryptographic code.
“Blockchain was originally devised as a way to confuse people who had mastered the concept of ‘cloud software’ and were starting to gain on the tech geeks,” says Norbert Wein of Central Massachusetts University. “It’s a distributed governance system that allows for collaborative creation and distribution of value in spontaneously emerging yadda yaddas.”
In practice, the system works by requiring a consensus of a majority of a woman’s girlfriends as to whether her husband has been “good,” a standard that many men find frustratingly vague. “They get together at book group and get drunk on chardonnay, I have no right to confront my accuser much less appeal,” says Mike Herz of Wellesley Falls, Massachusetts. “It makes you envy the transparency of North Korea, where they at least let their cheerleaders out in public every four years.”
Resistance from males is likely to be futile as the new technology advances now that the so-called “double-spending” problem that has dogged attempts to create crypto-currencies has been solved. “Double-spending,” muses Emily Herz, Mike’s wife. “That sounds like a feature, not a bug.”