July 21, 2004

Gifted At Romance

So, I was flipping through the cable stations last night, and I came to a startling conclusion. Namely, Hollywood makes it really tough on us guys when it comes to buying gifts for the other gender.

Now, I've gone off, at length, about the problems I have with movies and television when it comes to romance and how they prop up this belief that everyone can fall in love in a few days and then get married within a week and then roll the credits, leaving the audience thinking that everything worked out happily ever after.

What they don't show, of course, is when the girl walks in on the guy in the bathroom, vigorously pounding his pud to the latest issue of Maxim, or when the guy happens to discover that the girl picks her nose and eats her boogers, or the secret horde of human ears she keeps under the bed.

In other words, Hollywood never shows all the stuff you just learn over time that colors your opinion of a significant other and you decide whether their many human idiosyncracies still don't decrease your love for them. This goes a long way, I think, in explaining why celebrity marriages last about as long as a popsicle on a hot day.

Like I've said, it takes a few years, two at least, before you even have an inkling of what the hell is truly going on. So, if you're engaged after a year? Good fucking luck. See you in divorce court, folks.


My gripe today is centered more on how Hollywood sets the bar too high for men when it comes to gift buying. Because, I'm here to tell you, the movies just aren't fair in this regard.

Now, I should point out here that I'm a crappy gift buyer to begin with. I can do the flower thing, and I can do the wine thing, and I can do the dinner thing. Those basically represent my strengths.

Yet, according to the movies, my strengths are pretty minor league stuff. In the course of my channel surfing last night, I saw men buying women expensive necklaces, gaudy bracelets, ornate dresses, cars, exotic pets and on and on and on.

Now, I would normally have no problem with such fictional gift-giving. They're just movies after all, right? Well, the problem is that, gradually, such egregious displays of gift-giving start to work their way into the female subconscious. Such gifts start to be considered rational and a true expression of love and devotion. An expensive necklace means you really love a person.

I imagine it didn't use to be this way. I imagine that, back in the days of our cave-dwelling ancestors, gift giving was probably a far more pragmatic exercise.

Og, the village elder would, perhaps, kill a deer, drag it back to the village, and present it to Oglette in an attempt to win her favor. Oglette, in turn, would skin the deer and make a nice jacket out of the hide and present it to Og in an act of acceptance of Og's affections. I miss the days of Og and Oglette because they knew what really mattered.

If Hollywood movie writers had any common sense, or felt any obligation to make the human dating and mating process just a bit easier, they'd stop setting such impossible romantic expectations. They'd sit back and think, "you know, building a love boat out of trees planted as a child sure is a gigantic romantic gesture, but do I really want to contribute such craziness to an already horribly difficult and unrealistic dating realm?"

Instead, I think writers should step back and start lowering the bar a little. I think it would refreshing if Hollywood started showing the reality that even simple gifts, like wine, flowers and dinner, actually cost a whole shit of a lot, especially over time.

Instead of showing a guy dramatically unveiling an expensive music box that's about as useful as an ingrown toenail, it would be nice to show a guy giving a girl something a bit more pragmatic, like maybe a tee-shirt or possibly a Britta water filter, and then flashing over to the girl, who is beeming with gratitude.

Eventually, if movie writers play their cards right, within a decade women the world over will think that getting a bar of soap and some toothpaste represents a wonderful display of affection and love from their significant other. Hopefully, we'll get back to a time when dinner, wine, a movie and flowers represent the high end of gift-giving and people will really start to recognize how valuable and thoughtful such acts are.

And with a little more time, we'll get back to the deer-killing aspect of dating, which would be sweet.

Posted by Ryan at July 21, 2004 12:41 PM

Thank God those movies haven't brainwashed my girlfriend yet. She's pretty damn happy if I simply buy her a new video game, comic book, or movie. Often, what I end up getting her is something that I enjoy too (or can use). Sure, I get her dinner occasionally and other girly things, but she's overjoyed when she gets anything.

Case in point, the last present I got her was two volumes of the comic book Tellos. She loved them and I'll also get to enjoy reading them when she's done.

*Sigh* I love this girl, and not just because I can enjoy the presents I buy for her :-)

Posted by: Rick at July 21, 2004 12:56 PM

Yeah, but she still hasn't come clean about working at Clements, so you'd better keep your eye on her.

Posted by: Ryan at July 21, 2004 12:59 PM

They should be happy to receive anything other than something to cook or clean with much like I'm happy to receive anything other than something to paint the ceiling with.

If you get your wife a mop or vacuum cleaner for the holiday gift (birthday / anniversary / mothers day / christmas), then you get what you deserve. However, even if she asked for it, you are still going to be in the dog house. No amount of groveling will help because you were dumb enough to fall for one of the oldest tricks in the devious female trick repetoire.

Posted by: MojoMark at July 21, 2004 01:54 PM

For some reason this reminds me of Christmas when I was a teenager. When i was a little kid, Santa had no problem coming up with a bunch of cool little toys, games, and puzzles to stick in my stocking.

When I hit my teens, I started finding things like bottles of vitamins, travel-size shampoos, maybe a soap tray, etc. It was enough to give a person a complex, ya know?

These days he brings me lottery tickets.

A little closer to to the topic...

My fiancee is an auto mechanic, and very easy to buy for. I get her flowers, she's happy. Earrings? Happy. Comic Book? Happy. Cheesy Sci Fi DVD? Happy. Socket Wrench? Happy.

Vacuum cleaner? RUN FOR IT!

Posted by: Strider at July 21, 2004 02:23 PM

First gift my husband (boyfriend at the time) ever got me? 12 gauge shotgun.

I knew right then and there I could kiss diamond jewelry, Bentleys, and endangered species good-bye.

See you at the Blogger Party!

Posted by: Cathy at July 21, 2004 05:14 PM

Some of the best presents I've ever gotten were: a backpack with frame, a swiss army knife, a butt pack with hidden holster, and a jack plane.
(I'm a little different I guess), don't get me wrong I like jewelry too, but I use the other stuff more.
And I finally figured out that if I get my hubby stuff that I can use, it works out for both of us, "he" has a complete wood shop, that works out good for me being that I'm the only one that uses them, but he gets bragging rights. He buys me stuff for the yard because I do all the gardening, and that works for me too. And this spring he bought me one of the wagner power rollers when I was repainting the master bedroom. Yeah baby!
This year I think I want a face lift though, now there's some contradiction at work huh?

Posted by: Donna at July 21, 2004 10:46 PM

My favourite gift so far has been a toaster the ex got for me. We've parted amicably, but my lovely golden slices of toast always remind me of the good times. I dont understand what is wrong with hoovers, I'd love to get one as a gift right now. I like utilitarian things, I'm afraid of getting jewellery or stuff, most men buy really ugly stuff most of the time.

Posted by: plumpernickel at July 22, 2004 03:53 AM

Hubby and I have settled on xmas gifts only. No bday or anniversary gifts. He gets the expected flowers and candies on those days and the other expected holidays and I am happy with it. I figure why try to bust your brains on buying the perfect gift (so you think) and the other person not liking it. I love flowers and chocolate so I'm happy and he always picks the perfect bunch of flowers and box of chocolates. It has worked well for us for 10 years now.

Besides you should learn to like those little unexpected gifts you get. Like Dairy Queen Blizzards when you have had a bad day. Amazing what a little unexpected ice cream can do for a bad day!

Posted by: Machelle at July 22, 2004 08:17 AM

i've pretty much given up on gifts for anyone because a)expectations get to high and b) we all have enough crap already.

if i see something a friend or family member would *really love*, i buy it for them no matter what day it is, and if i don't see anything i want to give that person around Dec. 25th, i don't give them anything. if people want to give me gifts, fine, but i really don't care. in fact, i *hate* getting stupid, useless, token gifts. i just end up giving them to the Goodwill anyway.

Posted by: leblanc at July 22, 2004 05:45 PM
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