Monday, December 22, 2008

There's no time like the present

The holidays are coming up and that means presents. Not to be conceited or anything, but when you’re as popular and cool as me, it means lots and lots of presents.

But to be totally honest, getting any amount of presents always makes me a little nervous.

I know anxiety is not a normal response to getting free stuff, but I think it started when I dated this girl who was always buying me “presents,” only they weren’t really presents. They were clothes and shoes, and after a while I put two and two together and realized that she wasn’t being nice at all. She just hated my style (or lack thereof) and was trying to fix me fashionalistically.

That is just insulting. When your significant other starts to dress you, you can know with a surety that:
1. You are married, or have given up way too much control.
2. You look stupid.
3. The good times are over.

Really, she was giving presents to herself because now she could be more comfortable showing her newly fashionable boyfriend to her family and friends. When I discovered her sinister plans, I started giving the stuff away.

Her: “Did I just see your brother wearing those shoes I gave you?”

Me: “Yup.”

Her: WHAT!? Why?”

Me: “Well, I didn’t really like them, and I wasn’t ever going to wear them, and he needed some shoes. So I gave them to him.”

Her: “Do you have any idea what those shoes cost?”

Me: “No. It’s a shame really. I mean, what am I going to wear now to hang out with your friends? I guess I’ll just have to wear some of my old stuff that you hate.”

Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end. Now I worry when people give me stuff that they’re trying to “fix” me with their gifts. I’m still all cranky when someone gets me clothes.

And if I get cologne I think, “What’s wrong with how I smell?” Or, if they give me some music I wonder, “You don’t think I have good music taste?” Or, when I get a book it’s like, “Oh, so you’re saying I’m ignorant now?”

Another nerve-racking thing about getting presents is the obligation to pretend to like whatever it is you get, even if it sucks. Oftentimes, the giver is there watching you unwrap the stuff, so it’s like being in a live play.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but in some cases I have felt like, “Awesome. Some stuff I don’t want or need, and am now expected to wear or use or else you’ll get offended.”

I think the trouble comes down to the “surprise.” Why must it always be a surprise? Can’t we just ask each other what we’d like? I don’t even like surprises. My need to be surprised will always be overshadowed by my need for stuff that I like and will actually use.

The last thing about gift-getting that gives me holiday stress is it can make you feel old. You can tell just how old you are by the presents you receive. The more practical and boring your gifts are, the older and more used up you are. That is Jesse Barben’s Law of Presents and Aging. Take typical man gifts like an electric razor or a tie. Super practical and super useful, but zero fun. If you're getting them, it probably means you have reached an age where you are zero fun too.

I know it’s really not all about presents. Really, it’s all about me.