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JWR 2.38 - No Socks This Year?


I really enjoy Christmas, but at the same time, I’m very glad it’s over.  The presents are a stressful part.  For me, at least.  I go about shopping in the wrong way.  See, I make a list of the people I am going to buy a gift for and that’s where my initial thoughts end.  I go out and expect, as I walk through stores, the prefect gift to pop out at me and say, “Buy ME for Billy.”


My biggest problems are buying for kids, buying for my dad and buying for my brother and his wife.  Kids are tough, especially as they start getting into the double digits because that’s when they ask for things and they ask for stupid things, too.  Barbie?  N*Sync CD?  What the hell are Robotoids?  And the way I work is, I have a tough time buying something for someone that I wouldn’t be okay with getting myself.


Now, my dad is tough because you can only get the guy a gift certificate to a restaurant so many times.  One year I bought him Das Boot on tape and I would not be surprised it he has not yet watched it.  That’s just not his thing.  So, what is his thing?  Practical things that he has not yet purchased himself.  Yes, tough.


My brother and his wife are tough because they’re very religious.  And I think my biggest problem is that I over think things.  If I were to buy them a movie or a CD I’d have to know that there was nothing in them that would be offensive.  It’s one thing to be offensive yourself, it’s quite another to give a gift that would be disliked.  This year I bought them a book of M.C. Escher artwork.  I don’t think there could be a problem with that.  And to make it even more difficult, I won’t go buy them something Jesus-ey.  No Jesus fish, no Bibles, no religious reference books, no Jesus videotapes, no Christian rock, no pieces of the True Cross.


Recently I’m thinking that gifts like CDs and DVDs are a last resort.  So, what do you buy?  Well, you actually have to think about the person you’re buying for and get something appropriate.  And not only that, but don’t you think that you’d want to get them something original?  Well, to do this, you can’t just go to the mall.  Everybody’s heading to Spencer's and Fye Music and Best Buy.


So you know what I did?  I went downtown, where nobody goes.  I often hear the ladies at work jibber-jabber about all the neat little shops that are downtown.  So, I walked up and down a couple blocks on Sunday afternoon when there were very few shops open.  I really didn’t see anything that piqued my interest.  I did go into this book store because I do like books.  Immediately I saw this very pretty girl behind the register.  I walked around for a few minutes and picked up Waiting for Godot and went to check out.  The cutie rang me up and she mentioned that she had read my purchase and had a class that had discussed it from a homosexual Marxist point of view.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  But right then I realized that I knew her.  Now, usually, when I recognize someone, I’ll not talk to them, most often this is with people I knew from high school.  But this girl I did not know from high school and I was having a hard time figuring out from where I did know her.


“Where did you go to school?” I asked after she said all that crap about gay Marx.


“Eau Claire.”


I was pretty sure I didn’t know her from there although I have been to Eau Claire several times.  “Did you ever go to Parkside?”  I hate asking people this question.  I was in River Falls this one time and I saw this guy I was sure I recognized.  I asked him if he went to Parkside and he had no idea what I was talking about, so he asked me.  I told him never mind, since he had no idea what Parkside was, he certainly hadn’t been there.


She mentioned that she did take a summer English course at Parkside, but I was only in summer art courses.  I told her this and said maybe we knew some people in common, but I did not start mentioning names.  I hate when people do that.  Oh, do you know so-and-so?  Or how about So-and-so?  It’s just silly, I think.


All at once her name popped into my head.  “Is your name Nicole?’




I knew her.  And I know that we had a few conversations, hell, I knew that she was engaged before I saw the ring on her hand.  “It’s strange, I recognize you, but I have no idea from where.”


Well, I told her it was nice to see her again and grabbed my bad and left.


My excursion downtown.  They have nice restaurants that we never go to.  We always punk out and decide on Applebee’s or the Charcoal Grill, which are good, but you know how people are.  Afraid to break routine, we are, said Yoda.


One year I gave everybody pots I had made in ceramics class.  I gave my friend Adrienne who wanted to dress me in red Doc Martens and big corduroys a big ass pot with Zodiac signs all over it with a kick ass green glaze.  I wish I had that back now.  But you can’t take things back.  The best gifts are the ones that hurt.  I now wonder if she still has it.  Probably grows weed in it.


Another year I gave a few friends a copy of my thesis as well as more traditional gifts.  And those went over well.  I should plan ahead and actually create something again.


“We’re more alike than you might think.”  Almost forgot about that.


Receiving gifts has gone the way of me thinking my birthday is important.  I do like receiving gifts, everyone does.  It feels good to think that people would go and snag something for you.


Although I have a set of relatives who used to send me crap gifts.  One year I got a pair of Totes with the little strips of rubber traction on the soles and the next year I got a knit cap...that was far too small.  I put it on my teddy bear Pooky and it fit perfectly.  Gifts like that, just keep your money and buy yourself a clue.


For me, and I guess this would also pass on to those who I get presents for, gifts shouldn’t really be practical.  I’m not saying that I want one of those hats with cup holders on the sides for cans of beer and straws going to your mouth, nor do I want barnoculars, not do I want fake vomit.  On the other hands, I don’t see a welcome mat or a lamp as a good gift.  Those kinds of things are specifically geared, in my eyes, to be very personal.


The perfect gift this year would have been a set of refrigerator magnets that had illustrations like you’d see in children’s books of younger kids: eight and nine and they would have captions like: “Billy likes skinny girls, but never passes up a fatty,” or “Jimmy likes beer.  Chug, Jimmy, chug.”  That kind of shit is both practical in that it would get use, and it’s fun.


But I got some kick ass shit.  Booze, posters, pool cue, lava lamps, clock, Batman on DVD, mugs, a couple gift certificates that came in handy.


I think the most important thing to remember about gifts is not to try and get people what you think they should have, rather to try and get them something that you think they would want.  Books suck as gifts unless you know for a fact that the book you get, the person’s going to like.  Books are big commitments.  They take quite a while to read most often, and if they simply suck, as many books do, you’ve just wasted your time and money there.


Hey, it’s cool, we all do these things.  Chill.


I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a fuzzzzzy New Year.




Homerisms: “I could do a lot of things if I had some money.”


Copyright © 2001 John Lemut