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Monday, 22 December
Christmas Gifts That Have Been Largely Unappreciated

AGE 5: I think this is when I got my first taste of . . . what? Feeling left out of things, I guess. When you're a little kid, your parents of course think it's just cute as hell to sign your name to presents to other people, who then feel obligated to thank little you ostentatiously, while you sit around feeling kind of confused: "I didn't give you dick. I don't have any money! And if I did, I'd probably spend it on, like, jerky. Plus, go away, as I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to nap or pee or both."

But at my age 5 Christmas, I think I must have gotten a little bummed out with people sticking my name on gifts I didn't have any say in, because I ended up taking this terrible little plastic horse--it may have been Pokey--and wadding up a bunch of wrapping paper around it, and then presented it proudly to my grandmother. She of course made a grand show of acting as if it was the greatest gift she had ever received--in fact, I believe she displayed it on her mantle for a while--but of course it was just a wretched little plastic horse.

It took all of two days for me to regret giving up my beloved horse; I soon wanted it back, and whined to my parents about this, and they took a bit too much pleasure in informing me that I had screwed myself: "You gave it to grandma, and she took it home. It's gone!" They watched merrily as I grieved over my fucking horse, probably not suspecting the lesson I was starting to learn: Giving things away is lame.

AGE 6: Trying for another out-of-the-park homer like the previous year, I rather cynically wrapped a crummy kitchen magnet up in paper, planning on yet again delighting my grandmother, but this time with an item that I couldn't care less about. Unfortunately, my father caught me in mid-fumble-wrap. He snarled, "Nobody wants this shit." I was horribly wounded: MY GRANDMA WOULD HAPPILY ACCEPT ANY SHIT I SAW FIT TO GIVE HER! Which was true, but that hardly excused grabbing some random piece of crap and pretending it was a diamond ring. I pouted for a long time, mostly pissed off because my transparent ruse had so easily been seen through.

AGE 18: Is there anything sweeter than a high school girlfriend? And is there anything more utterly soul-crushing than when she dumps you and then takes up romantically with the scuzzy guy who occasionally likes to punch you in the face? I was lucky enough to find out! The gal and I had spent a thrillingly erotic evening in my Chevy Monza once, enthusiastically making out to Depeche Mode's album-length ode to depression, Black Celebration. I honestly don't know what I was thinking: the album is like a 70-minute-long dirge; it's about as romantic as an autopsy. But hey. So for Christmas, I got my gal a copy of the tape, as a sort of memento of our Night of Luv. I got it back soon enough, along with a note that said she was breaking up with me. A note that she left in my car. The tape was sitting there with the note, a sort of unspoken rebuke for subjecting her to such terrible make-out music; and she and scuzzy-guy-who-hit-me were an item mere weeks later.

(Silly addendum: I was really crushed over her dumping me for, like, months. Then, out of the blue, she got a frighteningly terrible haircut and perm . . . I mean, it was bad like nothing you've ever seen. It was the Weekend At Bernie's of haircuts. And when I saw it, it was like a switch had been thrown: I was magically, instantly over her. It was amazing. If only every ruined relationship were that easy.)

AGE 33: Two-fer this year. Lovely.

First off, our friend and downstairs neighbor, R., always gives us great gifts, usually very thoughtful and unexpected and cool. So that's kind of a pain in the ass to live up to, you know? I mean, there's only so many years that you can lamely just say, "Look, I just got you booze again." So last year, I was scouring around for good ideas, thinking about what a cool gift would be, when I stumbled upon it: I spied in my local music store a box set of AL GREEN! AL FUCKING GREEN! Everyone loves Al Green, and it surely stood to reason that our neighbor, a 40-ish music-loving gay man, would be thrilled to have such a gift.

Later, I watched happily as he unwrapped it, and then turned it over in his hands, like he had tripped over a meteor, or a dinosaur bone. I was certain he was kind of awed by the UNEXPECTED COOLNESS of this marvelous gift. "Wow," he said. "Who is Al Green?"

I shit you not.

The second instance of fucking it all up was with the wife's younger brother, who is 24. Naturally, I wanted to be the cool older brother-in-law, and bestow upon him some cred-building thing that would make him think, "Wow, what a mensch!" (Note that this is already Mission: Hopeless due to my pathetic usage of "mensch.") Knowing that he's a movie freak, I began patrolling the DVD racks, searching for that perfect movie that would say, "You'll smack yourself for not thinking of this terribly cool movie!" And then I found it. I stared at the box for a moment, siezed with glee--he's going to be poleaxed by the coolness of this fucking movie and will worship me as his utterly hip brother-in-law!

And that's how I ended up giving him a copy of An American Werewolf in London, saying, as I handed it to him, "I thought of you immediately when I saw this." I pressed the wrapped DVD into his hands like I was handing him a baby son. Bring on the coolness! He'll tell all of his college pals what a boss guy I am. 23 skiddoo!

A week later, on the voice mail: "Hey, guys! Hope you had a good Christmas. Give me a call sometime, and thanks for all the stuff! I . . . uh . . . hey, Skot, I'm not sure why you thought of me when you saw that DVD . . . but thanks, man . . . uh, it's pretty cool."

Later he told me he thought I was maybe "trying to tell him something" by buying him the movie--always a wonderful impression to make on your in-laws during the holidays. "Merry Christmas! I suspect you are a lycanthrope!"

This year he's getting a gift certificate to Best Buy. I'm guessing he'll race down there and buy a fresh copy of How To Deal With Your Awful Putz of a Brother-In-Law.

Fuck this. Next year, everyone's getting a refrigerator magnet.


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Comments

last night, i gifted the hostess of a semi-depressing christmas party the Ice Age DVD...the exact same DVD she had given to another guest at the party moments earlier.

worse, she had yet to open the DVD player i knew she was getting, so it kind of ruined the surprise.

no wonder i got a refrigerator magnet in my stocking -- i deserve it.

Comment number: 004105   Posted by: boomer on December 22, 2003 11:56 AM from IP: 209.142.45.10

Your brother in law will grow to love the movie Skot. He'll be 27 and digging through shit he's unpacking or his parents just dumped on him to get all that horrible shit children are wont to leave in attics and he'll say "Holy fuck, that Skot sure is a dick."

And then, because by then all his hipster friends will have talked about it repeatedly he'll pop it in the ol' player and watch it again and say "Holy fuck, that really is a wicked horrible movie but in such a good way!" and think "shit, that Skot, he was all tryin' to help me be cool and stuff and I totally didn't get it. I suck!"

(although really, a "this is a wonderfully cheesy crapfest, watch it with lots of beer and pot coursing through your bloodstream" warning would probably have been appropriate. Though not on the card)

Comment number: 004106   Posted by: rob drimmie on December 22, 2003 01:00 PM from IP: 65.48.133.67

For my 30th birthday, my wife shanghaied me with the help of many people and I found myself with her at the airport, where we boarded a plane. There, we met another plane on the way to Paris. Yeah, the one in France. Oh, and my parents were on that plane as well, since she bought them tickets too. So, on a day that I figured would end at best with a nice meal, beer, and deliriously happy sex, I am now in a foreign country, showing my folks the sites in Paris.

For Christmas I could purchase a sizeable tribe of actual humans to do my wife's every bidding -- servitors bred with only her pleasures in mind, falling over themselves to ensure her every possible desire is met fully and immediately -- and never catch up with that trip. Great trip, I'm fucked for life.

My only recourse, at this point, is to buy Versailles. "Here, honey, I've purchased a castle for you!"

Comment number: 004107   Posted by: ColdForged on December 22, 2003 01:21 PM from IP: 66.152.60.98

I'm still laughing my ass off at the AL GREEN boxed cd set. Wow. Wow!

Anyway, I don't feel so bad about the lame gifts I'm giving to my family this year due to serious lack of funds. At least you can afford shite gifts. I have to give giant bars of chocolate with gold curly ribbon because I'm so poverty-stricken.

Comment number: 004108   Posted by: Tracy on December 22, 2003 01:35 PM from IP: 24.136.221.1

Wait ... wait ... I don't get it. Who IS Al Green?

Comment number: 004109   Posted by: Howard on December 22, 2003 02:07 PM from IP: 216.99.213.80

One of my coworkers has been begging me for months to buy him a refrigerator magnet shaped like the state of Iowa.

Comment number: 004110   Posted by: yami mcmoots on December 22, 2003 07:57 PM from IP: 68.120.231.250

When I was in my 20s, I bought the coolest-ass gifts around. People salivated waiting for a gift from me. I even wrapped them creatively, turning packages into little houses or packages addressed to Santa.

Jesus, don't turn 40. Your coolness goes straight to the shitter.

Comment number: 004111   Posted by: Bet on December 23, 2003 07:11 AM from IP: 205.242.228.44

The only cool DVD you can give a kid (those under 30) is Repo Man. Three things immediately happen, it says that you were once punk rock, it shows the little poser that he isn't as cool as he thinks he is since he's never heard of the Angry Samoans, and allows you to say "let's get sushi and do some crime" any time you go to dinner with him.

Or you can give him the Depeche Mode tape, I bet he'd love that.

Comment number: 004112   Posted by: Edward on December 23, 2003 08:51 AM from IP: 4.21.45.3

Eff anybody who doesn't appreciate the utter hipness that is An American Werewolf in London. Eff them right in the ear.

Comment number: 004113   Posted by: Keri on December 23, 2003 12:00 PM from IP: 209.219.84.232

Nobody wants this shit. And who is Al Green?

Maybe yer b-i-l thinks you're telling him he's going to get the big C and make tracks to hang with Warren Zevon. Happy Holidays!

Comment number: 004114   Posted by: mike on December 23, 2003 03:56 PM from IP: 64.58.162.209

Okay, all you non-brothers who don't know who Al Green is needs to run to the nearest used CD shop and pick up a copy of, oh, I don't know, anything.

We'll wait right here for you to make the purchase, and then for you to listen to the dulcet sounds of Mssr. Green.

Comment number: 004115   Posted by: avogadro on December 24, 2003 09:00 AM from IP: 24.75.116.136

Skot, I too have been hurt by girls and Christmas. You are my brother and I love you.

Al Green taught James Brown how to dance and hurt women. One found Ghod, and the other the devil. Life is a coin toss.

Comment number: 004116   Posted by: Johnny on December 30, 2003 07:36 AM from IP: 163.192.21.3

cat friends

Comment number: 004117   Posted by: cat friends on July 9, 2004 07:36 AM from IP: 217.65.88.175

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