What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On bad gifting

I read a post/comments (on “More on the Heat”/Set Free at that criticized the gift giving abilities of husbands. At first, I was indignant. I wanted to write a scathing reply. I wanted to defend the husbandly culture from this partisan attack.

Then the part of my brain that controls sanity kicked into gear. Like a kid caught in the act, I had to look down, mumble, and scuff my feet on the floor. I am the world’s worst at buying gifts, especially buying gifts for my wife. You know the joke about the guy who bought a waffle iron for his wife’s birthday- that was me. I know for a fact that I am the origin of several other bad gifting urban legends that are told when and wherever wives congregate.

When we first got together, I could mentally fall back on the excuse that we didn’t have much money so my choices were limited. It wasn’t my fault. It was simply economics. Unfortunately, the more money I had to spend, the more glaringly bad my choices looked. The bigger the gun, the bigger the mess you make when you miss the target. In my case, the misses are usually on the order of several miles.

When we were first married, I bought her an engraved hammer for a Christmas gift. In my defense, I was young and it was a very good hammer (a thirteen ounce well-polished model with a leather grip and excellent tempering). I tried a few times to purchase clothing for her. This has always been a disastrous choice. It usually a.) doesn’t come close to fitting her b.) is horrifically ugly or c) is “Oh, my god!” monumentally inappropriate. I should know better. Except for my suits, I don’t even buy my own clothing. When I start looking like an extra from the “Mad Max” movies, my wife goes out and buys me some new clothes. She slips them into my closet and for the sake of my families’ good name, disposes of the worst of my tattered and stained garments. I have had some limited success purchasing jewelry. Whenever I find something that doesn’t cause her smile to have pained overtones, I latch onto it like a lamprey onto a shark. For the next several gift buying occasions, I stick to this winning formula. Unfortunately, this soon wears thin (how many pairs of marcasite earrings can one woman wear) and I am once again wandering the shops in search of that elusive “not really, really stupid” gift for her. I have tried buying electronic gadgets for her. It is a strategy that works well with the kids. I carefully shop around and find the latest, greatest, neatest, with-the-most-bells-and-whistles model available. A three-volume user manual accompanies it. It and its three-volume user manual usually end up occupying an out of the way drawer within the week. Several are still encased in their sealed plastic wrapping years later. Even the animal world is against me. If I buy her flowers, the cats eat them and then throw up on the couch. I have tried spa gift certificates. I ended up purchasing a day of painful medical procedures, because the brochures descriptions were so far outside of my frame of reference.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that my beloved partner is a gifted gift giver (trying saying “gifted gift giver” three times fast). She can walk into a store and come out ten minutes later with the most unique and thoughtful items. It takes me an hour to figure out where they sell the gift certificates. Her gift-wrapping is tasteful and elegant. My gift boxes would be better served if I rolled them in breadcrumbs and deep fat fried them.

She has, however, graciously taught me how to include the one perfect accessory in all of my presents to her- the store receipt.

“Marriages are best of dissimilar material.” – Theodore Parker


Blogger Songbird said...

I will say this for my husband: no gifts could ever match those he has given me when inspired.

13/6/05 9:43 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

(Sigh)We have been married for a long time. So far, the Muse of Inspired Gift Giving has never alighted on my brow. I guess she just keeps me around for laughs.

13/6/05 9:54 PM  
Blogger Adinah said...

a good laugh or a household husband gave me a microwave one year for my birthday (Italian and food is very important).....birthdays were always some (what he thought) practical item......but he would always win points at Christmas, pulled the plug and spared no expense....good thing my b-day and christmas fall close together, less time to stew....Oh, another classic line husbands use "Look what I bought you"....(always something he needed) What a great grin that it!

13/6/05 10:14 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

I can see that I will get no sympathy from this crowd.

13/6/05 10:25 PM  
Blogger Adinah said...

understanding yes......sympathy......not likely...o.k. maybe a little. There are probably lots of gift challenged women out there too. Perhaps you can take some confort in that.

13/6/05 11:36 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

When you've been married a long time, the gifts can be gloriously impractical (diamonds) or mundane as in something you'd buy for the house anyway. For Father's Day my husband is getting a portable phone. I've saved all the cards, and think we should recycle them.

15/6/05 5:17 AM  

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