JJ Vincent wishes that more men would get exactly what they want during the gifting season.
I love telling people what Santa brought me. He just has this knack for knowing what will make me very happy, and some of the people around very twitchy.
It all started with an office party/Dirty Santa. You know the game – steal from someone or open an in-the-pile package.
My number came up. I opted for an in-the-pile pick. It was a heavy bag, full of……glitter nail polish, nail rhinestones, scented candles, a bath fizz-bomb, a leopard-print-high-heel-shoe ring holder, snowman slipper socks with bobbles on the heels, two wine glasses, and a singing Christmas necktie.
And the tension in the room jumped from an anticipatory 3 to an uh-oh-uncomfortable 9. Because the least appropriate person possible got it. I could see it in their eyes. If a “manly man” had gotten it, they would have laughed hysterically. If a woman had gotten it, there would have been nods of approval. But the rather effete…ok, the hand-flapping, limp wristed, tendency-to-squeal gay guy…got it.
What’s the PC response? Is there a good response?
And it only got worse when I was honestly, effusively happy. Because as I told them, when flip-flop season happens, my toenails go to glitter and rhinestones, I love squishy socks, the candles are donuts (cue Homer Simpson impersonation), I can laugh at the shoe and tell them that leopard is not my color (setting of a mini-argument with one of the guys), and I could threaten them with the tie.
And so the confusion hovered for a moment, until they moved on. The perfect person got the box. The one person in the room would would use almost every item in it. The worst possible person to get it, because it drew immediate attention to why, by their standards, it was a perfect fit. Because I am the stereotype. And although I openly admit it, someone else saying it is still taboo.
Fast forward to Christmas morning. I posted this to my Facebook:
Woke up to presents including camo-and-pink Hello Kitty Slippers, the Complete America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (14 seasons), a bacon wave (and bacon), three bacon t-shirts, pink-and-blue striped toe socks, flavored chapstick, oven mitts, kitten-covered jammies, a fluffy pink bathrobe (now I have 2), a new camera, a rubber duckie, Just Dance 2014, and the set of items that made me very happy, thus proving that I am, indeed, an adult…black socks, white undershirts, and plain boxer brief. From his mom.
9 likes. 8 girls, 1 guy.
I’d really like to know what some of the other guys thought.
I’d really like to know, because there are plenty of items that you would not expect an almost-40-year-old man to want, much yet be effusively happy over.
Tradition says that men want golf clubs and power tools and home improvement items and leather jackets and fix-it kits and ties. They might want a piece or two of jewelry, maybe a new razor or other select grooming products. Video games, electronics, gadgets and holders, movies, things for the outdoors and the grill. Slippers, pajamas, something for the car. Sports memorabilia, school memorabilia. Outerwear, hats, sweatshirts, jackets. Something for the bicycle or fireplace. More of a collection. Maybe a little whimsy.
Men ask for these. I’ve seen the lists. They get them. I’ve seen the smiles. Some of them are genuine. Some of them are expected. Some of them are forced. Some items are enthusiastically used, or properly used, or politely put up and forgotten.
And if they don’t ask, this is a traditionally acceptable list, making traditional assumptions about what men are supposed to like.
What I want to know is this. If men could make a real list, a list of things they really wanted, with a promise that no judgement would be passed, what would they ask for?
Would the power saw and Newest First Person Shooter Game guy ask for a back massager and some hand lotion? Would the father expecting another gross of golf balls (his favorite hobby) ask for some model cars like he had when he was a kid (and extra glue)? Would the guy tied to his cube and expecting another fancy coffee mug beg Santa for a Nerf gatling gun, bright green? Would the token gay, used to getting candles and rainbow magnets, ask for the Die Hard Box Set or the Greatest Horror Flicks of All Time Calendar? Would the man who climbs poles all day be overjoyed with a gift certificate for yoga classes?
When I talk to the guys I know, I hear that Santa brought them a lot of expected gifts, both what you would expect a middle-aged man to get, and what you would expect him to ask for.
I would love to hear that someone else got exactly what they secretly wished for, and that no one felt awkward bringing it up the next day.
“Hey, Joe, how’d you like that pastel set?”
“Great, but I don’t think my wife will ever forgive me for what I did to the coffee table.”
“Hey, Mike, this is great!”
“Like it? Santa brought me the new springform pan I wanted. Got a bundt pan, too.”
“What about those play-off tickets?”
“Yep. He hid them in the box with the purple snuggie.”
“Man, I wanted one of those. I got another flashlight.”
Photo courtesy of the author