Thursday, May 2, 2013

I May Be a Man...

when it comes to buying gifts. Ha! Almost got you there. Yesterday, the Baby and I were in the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A and a man sporting numerous gold chains walked by our car and into the restaurant. Eagle-eyed Baby had an opinion:

Baby: Why he wearing all that jewelry? (she really does talk like an Asian dictator speaking English)
Me: Maybe he thinks that it looks nice.
Baby: Maybe he forget that he is a boy.
Me:  Do you forget that you're a girl?
Baby: No!
Me: Me either. I'm pretty sure he remembers that he's a boy. He just likes to wear a lot of gold chains.
Baby: I think he forget that he's a boy.

So, I may have unintentionally lied to the Baby because there is a time when I forget that I'm a girl, and that's when I have to buy gifts. I become the biggest bro and I just want to buy a gift card (better yet, a crumpled envelope full of wrinkled dollar bills) and be done with it. This is an unfortunate quality, especially at this time of year when we have Mother's Day next weekend and end of the school year teacher and coach gifts to purchase.

Smoking Mittens for everyone! Don't smoke?
Well then, you've already won.

I was Vice President of my class in college, a job which required me to send a form letter to literally every famous person in the United States and beg them to speak for free at graduation. So for all you who cringed at Susan Sarandon's left wing speech at commencement, too bad. Donald Trump turned down our generous offer of a Rutgers t-shirt and coffee mug to schlep to New Brunswick and deliver a speech in the rain to a bunch of drunks. The year after I graduated from Rutgers, the dean of our college retired. For some reason that I can't recall, the President of my class decided to go to his retirement party and take the dean some gifts on behalf of our class. After the party, he called me (I was in Texas) to tell me about the "awesome" gifts he had selected:

President: I got him one of those posters from the mall. It has a picture of a sailboat and it says, "Teamwork" at the bottom.
Me: So, you got him a Successories poster about teamwork when he's retiring....hmmm. Okay, is that it?
President: Of course not. I got him some slippers, 'cause he's gonna be relaxing and hanging out. But they're great because they're shaped like fish.
Me: Ohhhhh. Fish? Does he fish?
President: I don't know, but they're awesome.

I fear that these are the fish slippers in question.

Me: Okay, is that it?
President: One last thing, a Rutgers beer mug. So he can kick back in his slippers and drink a beer.
Me: Well, he's a recovering alcoholic, but I guess it's the thought that counts.

By the way, Mr. President is now a highly regarded fertility doctor in the Philadelphia area. He is apparently better at giving the gift of babies than he is at giving retirement gifts. I shouldn't criticize because he was nice enough to buy the gifts, which is more than I did. Given my gift-buying problems, I should understand when others falter in gift-selection, but instead I roll my eyes and act like I would have done so much better if I'd only the time or the inclination. It's just another one of the lies that I tell myself, like, "the children will appreciate you telling silly stories about them on the Internet," and "bacon is good for you."

If you type, "bacon" into Google Images, the first autocomplete suggestion
is bacon flavored condoms. Really, now we've thought of everything.
Turn off the lights when you leave.
Dad has a tendency to give very unique gifts. This can be great: probably half of the pictures on our walls are from him. It can also be a little strange. About eight years ago we got a mysterious package with a return address of somewhere in Ohio. I took a gamble that it wasn't full of anthrax and opened it up. I almost fell over from the smell of cigarette smoke that permeated the wrapping. It was a ten-year-old framed poster from the Decatur Arts Festival. The frame was broken. The poster itself was discolored and somehow the whole thing smelled like an ashtray. I did not know that it was even possible for a framed picture to smell like cigarette smoke, but apparently so. I quickly wrapped it back up and put it in a garbage bag while I decided what to do with it. At the time, I was busy visiting a bunch of doctors because an ophthamologist suggested that I might have a brain tumor. I am mentioning this, because I think it might be relevant to my state of mind. I decided that the old poster was an evil talisman and had to be disposed of immediately. The K, bless his heart, put the poster out on the curb and we watched as some unsuspecting man took it. The good news is that I didn't have a brain tumor. The bad news is, I never saw that man again.

A couple of weeks later, Dad called and asked if we'd ever received the poster. He had bought it on Ebay from someone selling the pictures off the walls of a bankrupt bar in the midwest. I told him that it wasn't in great shape (true) and we would have had to reframe it (also true) and that I hoped it hadn't cost too much because we decided it was too much trouble and tossed it (kinda true). I didn't mention that it had put a voodoo hex on the house because I didn't want him to worry. A couple weeks after that, we received another mysterious package in the mail. This time it was from Florida. It also reeked of cigarette smoke, but it was definitely not another picture. It was super heavy and bulky. I opened it up and was surprised to find an ancient Underwood typewriter. Like this:

Notably, typewriters are also able to absorb cigarette smoke. I called Dad.
Me: Um, did you send us a typewriter?
Dad: No! Did you get it?
Me: Yes.
Dad: Oh no! I wanted to have it sent to me. I must have forgotten to change the address after I sent you the poster.
Me: So, this is your typewriter?
Dad: Yes, I got it off Ebay.
Me: Yes. I figured. Is it from the bankrupt bar, too?
Dad: What? No. Why?
Me: They smell the same. What do you want me to do with it?
Dad: Can you send it to me?
Me: If I can lift it. What are you going to do with it?
Dad: Type. The guy said it still works! Can you believe it?
Me: Not really. There's this new thing called a computer that people think works better than a typewriter.
Dad: I know that. Silly.

I know the typewriter isn't really a gift, but if I've proved anything in the last six months it's that I love a good tangent. Also, that I love a good generalization: Men like to help women when they've crashed their cars and need help in the gift department.

One reason I think men have a harder time giving gifts than women is because magazines targeted at women often have gift selection suggestions. Men, if they're reading these magazines, it's only because they are waiting for their wife at the ob-gyn and there is literally nothing else to read or because they think there's an off-chance they'll find a picture of Mila Kunis topless. They will not dwell on the Mother's Day gift guide featuring 47 different present options for Mom. (You're welcome.) I happen to avoid these magazines because they just enforce my feelings of being inadequate at, well, everything. The last time I read Real Simple, I realized that I do everything wrong from drying my hair to selecting salt. This is not a good feeling. It's probably the same reason that I hate buying gifts: I don't like being in that place where I feel really inept and clueless. Then the temptation is to just fully commit to the bad gifts because even if I can't pick out a good gift, I am really great (gifted, maybe even) at picking out really bad gifts.

So, Happy Mother's Day:

Happy Teacher Appreciation:

Thanks for being a great coach:

Even if I haven't given you any good gift ideas, I hope I've made you feel a little better about whatever you end up choosing. It couldn't be as bad as this:

1 comment:

  1. I used to work with an editor who chain smoked. She would fed ex me copy and it wreaked as soon as I opened the envelope. Just so I don't hurt anyone's feelings here, I buy my own gifts. As far as I'm concerned, everyday is my birthday or Mother's Day.