Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gift of the Manguys

I found this earlier today and laughed my head off (well, practically - if I was really missing my head, would I be typing this right now? I don't think so.) It's by Peter McKay, who cracks me up with pretty much every column he writes.

Creators Syndicate – We are now in the middle of the most stressful period of the year for your average American husband. It's the month when men are forced to wander the malls aimlessly, looking for something, anything, they can put under the tree on Christmas morning that will meet their spouse's expectations.

You see them clumping around, eyes glazed, like zombies with credit cards. In their daily lives, they might be engineers, lawyers, police officers, firefighters or even brain surgeons, but when it comes to Christmas shopping for wives, they're like deer facing an oncoming Mack truck. It would be as if you approached a normal everyday person and told them they had to compose a symphony or translate a passage of ancient hieroglyphics: The whole operation is too complicated to even begin thinking about.

Young guys can get away with gifts that show sincere thought and dedication but cost nothing. Years ago, when we were moving, we'd put all of our available cash down on our house right before the holidays. That year, I gave my wife a meticulously constructed little model I'd made of our new home. (I got her a house for Christmas, get it? Get it?) She loved it, and understood that we had no money for anything else that year, but we both understood it was a one-shot deal. Had I come to the tree the next year with another cardboard model of a house, she would have crushed it with one foot, like Godzilla going after a Japanese apartment complex.

Sure, there are some men out there, really rich older guys, who can be incredibly extravagant at Christmas. They're the ones they aim those luxury car ads at, the ads where the wife wakes up Christmas morning, pulls back the drapes and finds her husband has parked a brand-new silvery sedan, complete with a huge red bow, in the driveway. For 98 percent of American families, the kind who cringe when they open the bills, the joy would last for about 9.5 seconds, until the wife noticed the payment book under the tree and realized the kids weren't getting braces anytime soon and they'd both have to bag lunch at work for the next 48-54 months.

For those of us husbands who do our Christmas shopping at the mall instead of the car dealership, life is more mind-numbingly difficult. For husbands, getting a Christmas present says: "Hey, buddy, here's something free!" For wives, a Christmas present says: "This item symbolizes what I think of you!"

With pressure like that, nothing seems right. Clothes are a nice idea, but no husband in his right mind will actually pick out clothes for his wife. Select something far too small, and you've gotten a gift she can't wear. A size too big, and you'll get that evil stare that means "and just how &*(%)$ big do you think I am, mister?" Pick the exact right size, and you're in just as much trouble, as no woman on earth wants you to know her right size. The only way to win would be picking exactly one size (no more) too small. It's like trying to knock over a stuffed clown on the midway. You can't win, so don't try.

Handbags might seem like a good idea, until you go into the handbag department and find out there are hundreds of choices, each in a different size, style and label. With handbags, however, each designer means something, too. The bag has to look expensive, more expensive than you'd normally think a woman could afford, but not so expensive friends would assume it was a fake. Just trying to figure it out makes me feel dizzy.

Most years, I end up folding under the pressure and going to my old standbys: Bubble bath, slippers and bathrobes. My wife now has enough of these items that she wouldn't run out unless she decided to run a day spa out of our home.

So I'll be out there, with all the other guys with just enough money so they can't get away with thoughtful free gifts, but not enough available cash to park a luxury sedan in the driveway. You can find us all standing in line at the bed and bath store, arms filled with slippers, bathrobes and, of course, bubble bath, confused and frightened looks on our zombie-like faces.

To find out more about Peter McKay, please visit www.creators.com.

I find this especially amusing, because a couple of years ago, Ande's mom asked him what he thought she could get me for Christmas. His idea? Towels. Lots and lots of towels. My guess is that he wanted us to get some new towels, but didn't want to waste HIS gift on household items. The next year, when Ande's mom asked what she should get HIM, I said, "Towels". I love that my mother in law has a good sense of humor!


Devin said...

The vision alone of all the men wandering the malls aimlessly in search of they-don't-know-what is hilarious to me....

This guy summed all that up pretty well, I think! Thanks for the laugh :)

Anonymous said...

this is about the funniest thing I've ever read