2006-06-15 / Sam Bari

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

Dad's day shopping made e-z
By Sam Bari

Father's Day is this Sunday. If you haven't bought anything for your dad, husband, or other significant fathers in your life, don't panic. Shopping for men is easy and the rules are close to idiotproof.

Men, forget all rules that apply to buying for women. Women, forget all rules that apply to buying for you.

If you want to buy clothing for men, just look in their closet for something they wear frequently and check the size. Whatever the size is, that is what makes them comfortable, so buy them clothing that is the size indicated on the garment. They won't care if the size is written in a broad stripe on the outer seam of their trousers. If the lettering says, "Fat Guy 50 waist, 30 length," they will be pleased to know their pants are the correct size. This practice, however, is not advised when buying for women.

When you see a man who has been happily married for half his life, you will rarely see his wife wearing an article of clothing he has bought for her. The reason is that most of his purchases don't fit, have never fit, and aren't ever going to fit. He only buys clothing of the same size she wore when he married her. You might say that doesn't make sense, but believe me, that kind of thinking is responsible for many happy marriages. The man's wife knows that he knows she is much too large to wear size 6-8, as she did when she first wed. However, she appreciates him not acknowledging that he knows she is a size 14, and she is happy to show her appreciation. So, gentlemen, the next time you buy clothing for that significant other in your life, remember, they don't think like you. Buy to make them happy. If you ladies are buying for men, purchase sizes that fit. Okay. Enough on clothing.

Gift cards and certificates for men are not just okay; they are welcomed. The operative rule concerns the source of the certificates. Men like stuff - manly stuff. You know what I mean. Stuff from stores Tim Allen would recommend. Stuff that's sold in hardware stores, sportinggoods stores, and the like. Think "Tool Time" and you can't go wrong. A gift certificate from Jamestown Hardware would be preferred over, let's say, one from Neiman Marcus.

If you give a man a $30 gift card to buy the rake and pruning shears of his choice that you thought he needed, he will figure out some way to justify using that card to apply to something he can ride. It'll happen every time. If he says he needs a hoe, in his mind, the ideal hoe is a backhoe with a front-end shovel loader delivered on a flatbed truck. He'll want the optional tank treads; anything less would be inadequate. If Caterpillar, or minimally, John Deere isn't visible in large block letters, he might be disappointed. It doesn't matter that he lives in an apartment and his gardening is limited to a window box. He still wants it. You must understand that most men want male children so they can play with their Tonka toys.

Now listen closely, this is important. If the fathers in your life like to fish, whatever you do, do not buy them fishing gear. Give them the gift card. I don't care if it's from Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shop, or Cabela's it doesn't matter. Give them the gift card. Men like to buy fishing gear themselves because everything they use to land a fish is a big secret. If they catch something on a polka dotted, yellow-tailed, superwiggly, flashamatic lure, they want to say that they specifically chose that lure because they know something that nobody else knows. Don't ask. I fish, and I don't understand it either. Let's just say that men like to touchyfeely their fishing gear and make the actual purchase themselves. Just give them a gift card and forget about it. Make your life easy. Okay gift cards are covered.

And lastly, what not to buy. Whatever you do, if you want the fathers in your life to be happy, do not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do not buy them a tie. Try to understand, most men hate the fact that they have to wear that particular useless accessory that was designed to make life miserable. And those who must wear one because of occupational considerations want to choose their own. Try to relate it to a knight of old choosing his colors. It's a personal thing. It's part of that system we just can't understand.

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