My birthday is approaching. And, as if that weren't enough, I'm also getting hitched. Which presents me with a problem I face regularly (in the sense of the old 'regular' church-goer joke - he goes every Easter). Namely, that I have to figure out what I want people to buy for me.
I don't really want much. (Oh, sure, a job. I want a job desperately. But I'm talking here of physical things.) This, of course, makes it tough to buy things for me. It's not that I have everything, it's just that I have everything I want.
It wasn't always this way. When I was a kid, I wanted rather a lot of things. Mostly Legos, as I recall. Birthdays and Christmas were never a problem. Set me up with a set of Castle Legos, and I was good for days.
Somewhere in my teens, that changed. The things I wanted moved out of 'gift' range. A car, ferinstance. And I never really picked up the sort of hobbies, such as skiing, that allow for an entire reliable spectrum of gifts. Still haven't, really, although I do play golf now. Badly.
But it was my twenties, when I had the income to buy pretty much anything I wanted, that really put the kibosh on easy gift recommending. I want something, I buy it. And my wants are really pretty tame, anyways. There are lots of people who have picked up a lifestyle that allows for easy gift giving. The aforementioned skiiers, golfers, clotheshorses, and especially collectors of things. You can always give a stamp collector something they want.
Which is not to say that I don't collect things. They are just those sort of slightly dodgy and definitely insider-knowledge things that people won't buy for you. Comic books. In my teens, role-playing game accessories. See, my folks knew that that sort of thing would turn me into an inveterate geek. And, although they weren't going to forbid it, they damn sure weren't going to encourage it. I guess it worked - although I am an inveterate geek, I can also bench-press over 200 pounds and have an MBA. Although NO JOB. Not that I'm bitter.
Let me take a step back, as I just realized I've lost some of you. These people are the ones who come from a background of 'blind' gift-giving. The 'don't ask, don't tell' people. The people without gift lists. They don't have this problem, i.e. deciding what they want. They are just going to get useless crap anyways, like they have every year since their parents bought them the first Hotwheels car wash and Chia garden. To which I say, "ha-ha". You lose. At least you never had the stress of making a birthday list. Please remember, though, just because your relatives didn't believe in putting any education in their guessing is no reason to inflict that on any descendents you might be contemplating. The secret to a gift list is that it be large enough that the recipient not know what they may not be getting.
And, if you are one of those parents who get their child everything, I hate you, but take comfort in the fact that your child will grow up to be Bret Easton Ellis.
Where was I? Hell, I forget. Anyways, on a related note, I was unleashed in a Macy's last Sunday with a little bar code gun and told to zap the things I wanted to receive as wedding gifts. Whereupon my mind immediately bifurcated. Half of me began to shop carefully, thinking about the housewares that my fiance and I needed, comparing models, and frequently observing that I really should go to some other store than Macy's for my kitchenware. Williams-Sonoma or something.
Of course, my other half was thinking "hey, I'm not paying for any of this!". And it had LOTS more fun, especially armed with the little zapper gun. "Hey, look, a Lladro Noah's ark!" *beep*. "Oooh, knives." *beep*. "Hey, let's get some of those" *beep* "and those" *beep* "and whatever the hell that is!" *beep*. *beep* "Oops, just ordered another fondue pot. Hey, what happens if I close my eyes and just wave this thing around?" *beep* *beep* *beep*.
Luckily, the part of my brain actually pulling the trigger was the first part. But I had more fun trailing after my fiance and saying "beep" (thereby causing her to jump and whirl around, or, after repeated exposure, sigh deeply at my maturity level) than I had during the whole hour and a half of "Ice Age".
- Sun Ra
Columns by Sun Ra