December 19, 2006

A Snooper's Christmas

There was a time, in my more youthful youth, when I was prone to snoop around for Christmas gifts. I simply couldn't resist the allure of the "Great Annual Gift Snoop."

Part of the allure of the "Great Annual Gift Snoop" was passed on to me by my brother, who often employed me as a lookout while he snooped. I was an eager student of the snooping craft, so I watched my brother carefully, determined to develop and improve upon his snooping skills.

By the time my brother had lost interest in the "Great Annual Gift Snoop," I had become frightfully gifted at snooping. Man, oh man, could I snoop. I knew ALL the best hiding places for gifts in the house. There wasn't a hiding spot utilized by my parents I didnít know about. I knew under their bed was the preferred gift sequestering locale. I knew all my mother's tricks, like trying to hide gifts behind boxes and blankets. I could avoid detection better than the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. I was the Snoop Ninja of my generation.

My snooping went far beyond mere gift locating skills. I learned to ask my parents leading questions, or generally just say things that would prompt them to accidentally reveal some aspect of their gift. For example, I would say something like "I've been thinking about buying a Boba Fett Star Wars action figure." If my mother responded with something telling, like "why donít you wait until after Christmas," oh, I KNEW.

I also became amazingly adept at peeling back tape from wrapping paper, so I could undo gift corners to get a peek at the treasures hidden beneath. I actually went so far as to build "forts" out of the presents that werenít mine, so my parents couldnít see me within my fort, conducting meticulous gift autopsies on those presents bearing my name.

At some point, I think my mother realized I had become snooper-ific, because she would occasionally wrap my gifts twice, which made it virtually impossible for me snoop without leaving tell-tale signs. I probably could have figured a way around that newfangled anti-snooping measure, but it was at around that time that the snooping bug started to diminish. By the time I was 12 years old, snooping simply didn't hold that much interest for me.

As with any great skill honed to perfection, however, I've never really been able to give up snooping entirely. I even find myself unconsciously snooping to this very day, which drives my girlfriend absolutely crazy. Earlier this month, for example, I noticed she was using a different cellular phone, but when I asked her about it, she became all defensive. Curious, I went online to find out more about the phone she wouldnít let me look at. It was then I noticed a cellular phone plan that featured TWO phones for a slightly increased monthly rate. Imagine her irritation when I went and stood in front of the Christmas tree, looking down at the presents.

"What are you looking at?" she asked.

"Iím just trying to figure out which one of these has my new cell phone in it."

To say she was upset with me would be a severe understatement.

Then, last weekend, my girlfriend and I were at the local mall. After about an hour of shopping, I decided I wanted to go to a store to look at leather jackets. In particular, I wanted to see if they still had the one in stock I had my eye on about a month earlier. Since I was in a spending mood, I figured I may as well treat myself to that jacket.

"You should wait until after Christmas," Melissa suggested. "It'll probably cost less."

Now, there was some logic and sense to such reasoning, but little silver bells from Christmases past started jingling in my mind, and I realized Iíd heard words very similar to those just spoken many, many snooping years ago.

"You bought me that jacket for Christmas, didnít you?" I asked, not really thinking about it.

Now, as I said, I wasnít really thinking about what I was saying. I didnít MEAN for it to bother her, but boy howdy, was she bothered.

"You just had to go shopping for yourself!" she said. "You can never go shopping and not think about buying something for yourself, can you? You just had to spoil the surprise!"

Although there may be some truth to the accusation I canít go shopping without thinking about myself, I steadfastly denied my intent was in any way meant to spoil any surprises. If there's one think that I hate spoiling, itís a surprise.

In the end, she forgave me for my accidental snooping, and I agreed to be surprised, no matter what I may or may not have guessed. Itís Christmas, after all.

And I hope you have a merry one.

Posted by Ryan at December 19, 2006 03:55 PM | TrackBack

My mom made snooping too easy. She kept a list on a yellow notepad of what gifts she'd bought for which kid.

Posted by: DG at December 20, 2006 08:06 AM

If I had to contend with snoopurbation from my SO, on this scale, I would lose the will live generously and he could look forward unendingly to J.C.Penny gift cards with a reused stick-on bow.

Posted by: kg at December 21, 2006 04:18 PM
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