2005-11-17 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

Gift buying guide for men
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

Gentlemen, the “season” is fast approaching, and it is time to start thinking about that special gift for your spouse, significant other, or whatever you want to call the person with whom you enjoy spending an occasional romantic moment.

Now when I say “season,” I mean that if you don’t give this seemingly simple task some serious thought, the thing “in season,” will be you — if you catch my drift. And when I say “occasional romantic moment,” those moments will become more occasional than you ever thought possible if you do not excel at the gift-giving art. So, let’s get down to business — this is serious stuff.

Buying presents for women can be as simple as walking through a minefield. You just have to know how to avoid the dangerous areas. Rule number one, and this is a very important rule — do not ask the woman in your life what she wants.

When you ask, “What do you want for Christmas, honey?” This translates into, “Why are you asking, you lazy, thoughtless idiot? Is it because you want to take the easy way out so you don’t have to actually go shopping? If I told you I wanted a watermelon, you’d probably be dumb enough to go out and buy one.”

If she smiles when she answers the question, and trust me on this one — that’s what she’s thinking.

If you want to know what she wants, ask her best friend, her mother, the kids, anyone but her. They will tell you. But if you buy this thing that she wants, you better buy her something to go with it, because in her mind what she says she wants is the last resort — it’s the thing you buy because you didn’t take the time to “look” for anything else. She wants you to give it some thought. Are you with me so far?

You would do better asking her friend, mother, etc., about what she doesn’t want, just to make sure you don’t tread in a dangerous area of that minefield we talked about earlier. You see — for some women, there are categories of gifts that you want to avoid.

For instance, go in her closet and check the tags on the collar of any article of clothing. If you see a number with an X beside it, or anything that indicates a “Plus” size, do not under any circumstances buy her clothing. That X or “Plus” on the tag means the clothing is made for fat women. She knows she’s fat. She knows that you know she’s fat. However, she does not want you to give her anything that has something in writing on it that says that she’s fat. Got it? Don’t ask why; just listen.

Whatever you do, do not buy her clothing that comes from a store with the initials LB. And that is not an acronym for L.L. Bean. If you do not know what LB stands for, ask any fat woman and she will tell you.

If you’re really at a loss, intangibles are usually safe. By intangibles, I mean you have to go all out and buy her something like — a cruise. When she opens that card containing two tickets to some exotic destination leaving two days after Christmas, you will have won her heart . . . Hmmmm . . . well maybe. There are rules about cruises too. Listen carefully.

Unless she spends more time on the links than you, do not buy her the “golf” cruise. You know the one, six ports, six exciting golf courses . . . that one is a double bogey. Because if she doesn’t play golf, she will make you pay. While you are golfing, I promise you, she will be shopping, and it will cost you dearly.

Just suck it up and spend a few hours with her doing the things she likes to do, like lying beside the pool slathered in some weird greasy sun block, while you sip disgustingly sweet drinks with paper umbrellas and fruit hanging off the side. Then go for romantic walks and watch sunsets. They’re free. Besides, it’ll all be over in a week, and you’ll be her hero. She’ll let you do anything you want for oh, let’s say, a month. Then you’re on your own again.

Anyway, the point is, if you want to buy a gift for the woman in your life that will make her happy, you gotta prove that you know who she is. This is accomplished by giving her a gift that she likes that she would never have thought of on her own. I never said it was easy, I just said I’d tell you what to do.

It’s all part of that system we can’t understand.

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