“Tomorrow’s our anniversary,” I reminded my husband.
A simple statement, but strong enough to make grown men cringe, relinquish the clicker, lose interest in their beer, and mumble incoherently.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“I don’t care. Surprise me.”
Gift-giving is a major skirmish in the battle of the sexes. A woman’s quest for the perfect gift makes the Crusaders’ search for the Holy Grail a mere scavenger hunt. Women delight in searching for the perfect gift. Men would prefer to defuse a ticking bomb with a plastic straw and toothpick than suffer the stress of shopping.
Men + gifts = No Big Deal.
Give him golf balls, a cordless drill, or a Yankees sweatshirt and he’s happy.
He may wonder, Why did she give me a Yankees shirt? I’ve been a Sox fan my entire life. But he’ll just shove the shirt in a drawer and forget it. I guarantee he’ll never react by stomping to the bedroom, slamming the door and refusing to speak. And he definitely won’t cry!
Women + gifts = Volatile Situation.
Without confusing psychobabble, let me explain. Last year when Hubby gave me a deluxe four-slice toaster for our anniversary, which we sorely needed, I didn’t coo, “Sweetie, how thoughtful. Now we’ll enjoy lightly browned bread instead of cinders for breakfast.”
Instead, I thought, a toaster! That’s about as personal as a telemarketing call. I thought I was his love cherub. I spent the rest of the night sulking in the bedroom watching Sleepless in Seattle for the umpteenth time.
In the den, my perplexed spouse mumbled, “I did what you said. I bought a surprise. I can’t win.”
To navigate the gift selection minefield, I offer men these suggestions:
First, don’t be misled by statements like, “My curling iron belched out a 10-foot flame today and scorched my eyebrows,” or “The blender exploded. Shot tomato sauce all over the kitchen. Looked like Jack the Ripper was here.” These comments cause a man’s ‘fix-it genes’ to mobilize. I’ll get a blender for her birthday, he thinks. Well, think again! Women don’t want tools for presents. This means no leaf blowers, power saws, rice cookers or anything with a power cord.
Second, crotchless panties and pasties are a waste of money unless the woman in your life wears these on a regular basis. If she generally sleeps in a turtlenecked suit of armor, gifts from Simon’s of Sleazeville will not get your desired result.
Third, use caution when buying clothes. Sizing is critical. If it’s too small, she’ll ask, “Whatever possessed you to buy this size? A pygmy couldn’t get one leg in these slacks.” And God forbid you buy something too large. “What’s this? A size 43XXX, do I look that big?” Warning: Never answer that question!
Fourth, avoid gifts from the automotive department. My friend Denise vividly recalls her first anniversary eighteen years ago. Her beautifully-wrapped gift held an air filter for her aging car. She prayed, for her husband’s sake, it was a joke. Next he produced a small box. Was it keys to a new car? A diamond bracelet? Tickets for an exotic vacation? No, it was a gift certificate to Monkey Joe’s Speedy Lube. Women never forget gifts like that, nor do they let the giver forget them.
And finally, avoid DUPs. (Disgusting Utilitarian Presents.) If you’re not sure what qualifies as a DUP, reread the first and fourth suggestions. Other DUPs to avoid are:
Medical supplies: Including heating pads, aspirin, ice bags, bandages and any drugs advertised on TV. These items are not funny, even as gag gifts.
Kitchen gadgets: Especially ice picks, nut crackers, and sharp knives, as they can easily be used as weapons.
Garden items: With or without cords, they are classified as tools. Go ahead, buy that new snow blower, garden tractor or chain if you must have it, for yourself. Don’t try to pass it off as a gift to her. Never give weed sprays or pesticides; your next drink might taste strange.
A prudent man tucks away several small gifts to save his butt in an emergency. My husband learned this trick years ago. So, last week when I said, “Remember what today is?” followed by an icy stare, like a good Boy Scout he was prepared. Minutes later I accepted a bottle of my favorite perfume.
“How thoughtful, but I bet you forgot your proctology exam is today.”
Well, what can I say? His butt’s beyond saving!