In honor of my wife’s upcoming birthday, I thought I’d recount the worst gift I ever gave her. This way you can feel good about yourself and my dirty laundry can air out a bit.
First off, let’s start with a face and a look. Yes, you know that look on her face when you give a gift.
You. Shoulders tense. Eyebrows up. Mouth agape.
Her. Quiet. Lips pursed. One eyebrow up. My wife raises one eyebrow more times than Spock. And she can switch it up. Just when I think I’m getting the left, she hits me with a right. Greek poets couldn’t do it justice. It is justice!
Anyway, all of this body language groans Congratulations! You just failed at gift giving! Welcome to your first year of marriage. I traded in a thoughtful boyfriend for a bumbling husbonehead.
Here’s how it went down. A bunch of years ago, I was newly married and well intentioned and kind of stupid. I know, I thought, I’ll buy my wife a bunch of clothes. She loves clothes. She wears clothes like every single day.
So I go to a store that might rhyme with “Bamerican Beagle” and walk up to a salesperson and say, “My wife’s about this size, can you help me pick out clothes?”
Now I don’t know if this salesperson got commission or was bored, but she enthusiastically commenced loading me down with a whole lot of pink things. I think I spent $200. Which goes way too far in that place.
(By the way, while I was there I noticed my favorite mall kiosk of ALL TIME. It sold hair extensions and was called “UN-BEWEAVABLE.” No I did not buy my wife a weave. They are expensive.)
Fast-forward to the big day. The unwrapping. The tension. The searching look. Okay, go try them on! I was so pleased with myself for taking the time to get such a thoughtful, personal gift. What a good husband I am. She likes it! She really likes it! I’m valid!
And that’s when I learned that a store you shopped at as a teenager doesn’t obey the same laws of physics when you’re an adult. This law is called “junior sizes,” and it is not kind. You can guess how it went. Not well. Buying one piece of clothing that’s too small is maybe forgivable, but a whole slew demands the judgment of many painful facepalms.
My wife was gracious, but I felt like a failure. Probably because I failed.
Today, I’m wiser. I listen to my wife, and she asks for gift cards. People don’t believe me, but it’s true. That’s literally what she wants. She says it’s two gifts in one—she gets to open a present and then go shopping. How thoughtful is that? I hate shopping. She loves it. Everybody wins. Dumb husband is upgraded to smart husband until next incident.
Now she uses gift cards like a normal person, whereas I do all kinds of weird maximizing that earn me a trip to one eyebrow town. If someone gives me a gift card to:
• Ebay: I spend hours looking for a deal. It’s great fun. Addicting. Unhealthy?
• A lame store: Sell the gift card on Ebay. To all my relatives: I have never done this to a card you’ve given me. I promise?
• A coffee place: Re-gift the gift card to my wife OR buy whole beans and make the coffee at home OR hide it (not in my wallet) from my wife before she takes it. And she WILL take it.
• A gas station: Rejoice in the practicality.
• A cool store: Use it like a normal person. See? I can do that.
And I really can do some things okay. Fast fast forward through more years of marriage, when I finally got the courage up to buy her some jewelry for her 30th birthday (None of this “29 forever” business at our house). Well let’s just say I did a good job, and yes, maybe a gift card was involved. And Amazon. Note to local businesses: I only went to Amazon that one time, I’m not cheating on you. I love you.
Whew. It feels so good to confess. Okay, now you go.