Shop ‘till you drop
By John Gray
Close your eyes and picture it. The two gladiators line up nose-to-nose, weapons in hand, feet planted for traction, both clench their teeth and wait for the signal. Then it happens —suddenly, they spring toward each other; the ground shakes, birds scatter, worlds collide. Ah, but this is not an epic struggle for good or evil, but for a black and tan Dooney & Bourke handbag, which is 50 percent off by the way. You see, I’m not describing a day in the NFL or the latest Russell Crowe movie, just a typical Saturday afternoon at the mall. Welcome to December where the weapon of choice is a credit card and the battlefield is any store with a one-hour sale.
Perhaps I exaggerate just a little, but holiday shopping has become a full contact sport. Think I’m kidding? I dare you to cut off an elderly woman in the Christmas Tree Shop. I did. Once. Have you ever been hit with a wicker reindeer? Let me tell you there’s nothing “Merry” about it. Let’s just say Rudolph’s nose wasn’t the only thing glowing when I left the store.
But enough about me; let’s talk about you and your holiday shopping. Each year in January when the credit card bills arrive you say to yourself, “Never again.” You promise yourself that next year will be different. You will not spend that kind of money on the people you love. In fact, you just might make your gifts next year. Yeah, that’s it. You’ll knit blankets, take up ceramics, or maybe even buy those rubber-stamps and make your own holiday cards. Or, you’ll purchase a bunch of baskets real cheap and fill them with your world famous chocolate chip cookies. These are all wonderful ideas—on paper. Then of course you wake up a week or so after Thanksgiving and think, “I don’t have time for this.”
Since your name is not Mrs. Field’s and you will not be baking 1,200 pounds of cookies, let’s get real and come up with a strategy for shopping. I’ll start with the men.
Men of the Capital Region, repeat after me—”Gift certificates.” There. You’re done. Wasn’t that easy. Wait, wait, wait. I can see some of you shaking your heads thinking that is one of the most unromantic, thoughtless gifts on the planet. To you I would say this: Would you rather have Ginzu knives that can cut a tin can, or a fish that mounts on the wall and sings “Take Me To The River” when you walk near it? Is that really what you want? Because trust me, that’s what you’re getting.
When men shop they get stupid. Some would argue it extends beyond shopping, but we have limited space here. Men walk into the store using the following logic. “Hmm. If they put this item on a table right near the door it must be a hot seller.” They also think, “You know my wife and I split up to shop and agreed to meet at the food court in three hours. If I buy all this stuff right near the cash register then I’ll be done early. That leaves me two hours and 50 minutes to go to Hooters and watch the…. game.” (See, you thought I was going to say girls.)
Here’s another tip for the guys—don’t buy her anything that will help her lose weight. Treadmills, a gym membership, liposuction. Trust me on this one. Don’t go there. And stay out of Victoria’s Secret. It’s not okay to hold skimpy lingerie up to a woman you don’t know and say, “Hey she’s about your size. Would you try this on for me and let me see how it looks on a real woman?”
Now women are smarter than men and need much less guidance. However, I do have a few pointers. No more ties. And please stop with the underwear. We know the stuff in the top drawer has more holes than our nation’s borders, but we love them. Our mom’s always bought us underwear and it’s embarrassing. So stop.
On the flip side, anything we can swing through the air and potentially hurt someone with is good. Golf clubs, baseball bat, chainsaw. Beer is also acceptable. In fact we’ll consider it “six little gifts” if you like. Yankee or Red Sox tickets are great. If you can get us a game where those two teams play each other, all the better. And this is asking a lot, but if there’s ever a game where the players are armed with chainsaws—perfect. (It’s a guy thing.)
Whether you’re a guy or gal it’s important not to lose sight of what the holidays are really all about —returns. Don’t you dare lose that receipt because nothing says Merry Christmas quite like telling a person to their face, “I love it” and then running straight back to the store December 26th and saying to the sales clerk, “Make it go away.”
As for me? Each year I ask my family for the one thing I want but will never buy for myself. A half-pound bag of M & M’s. Plain of course. Go ahead and laugh, but no matter how many gifts I may have under the tree that’s always the first one I open. I get that from my Dad I suppose. Every year he asked me to buy him a big Hershey’s chocolate bar and every year I told him it wasn’t enough money to count as a gift. I thought he was trying to save me some cash, but now I realize it’s truly what he wanted. And let’s face it—a pound of chocolate beats a singing fish every time. Happy shopping and beware of angry women armed with reindeer.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writing at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org