The Gift of the Man-Guy

As I prepared to go to bed on Christmas night, I surveyed the room where Santa Claus had vomited the previous evening. Strewn about the floor lay books, a play stethoscope, various musical instruments, and several plasticy hunks of play food, one which looks like raspberry corn-on-the-cob. The day was as great as could be expected. My older child was ecstatic as he discovered one thing after another that Santa had mistakenly brought to him, a boy who willfully placed his name on the official naughty list. My infant son received an assortment of chew toys and onesies and all of the butternut squash that the North Pole elves could process. I received some nice clothes, stereo speakers, expensive electronic gadgets, and some great board games. Just before I went up the stairs for my few moments of slumber, I remembered that there was one more person in our family that it would seem Santa forgot; the one person that I wanted to enjoy this holiday as a truly special time-- my dear, sweet, and annoyingly impossible-to-shop-for wife.

I wasn’t always so bitter about a gift-giving occasion for Miranda. In what has come to be known as “The Days When You Used To Do So Many Things For Me”, gift giving was an art form that I was sure I had perfected. Before we started dating, I gave Miranda a little ceramic sunflower that had a round picture frame where the flower’s head would be. I cut out words like “Funny” and “Hope” and “Sunshine” so that she could put new words in the frame every day. I also cut out pictures of myself as well as Brad Pitt, so she could apparently portray the opposite ends of the “Men Who Are Good Looking Without Shirts and Who Can Pull Off a Goatee” spectrum. I think she put it up in her bedroom and, though I am sure she didn’t change the word in the frame daily, I think that she looked at it and thought of me. My plans were beginning to come to fruition.

Contrary to my wife’s beliefs, we started dating soon after this. I took her out to nice and exotic restaurants. On the night we first kissed, we went to a Peruvian restaurant, I cut the chicken off of the bone for her, and then we made our way to the symphony. When it finished, we held hands underneath an umbrella as we rushed back to our car with only the sounds of falling raindrops and our panting laughter trailing us. I wore a suit and I stood out in the rain in front of her house not caring that I was getting soaked. I was, after all, a master of this date thing and as smooth as Cassanova on prescription pain meds.

Later dates included ice-blocking in the park, bowling, visiting museums, going to plays, and other activities which involved heavy doses of cultural stimulation. Flowers, trinkets, little notes, and jewelry came as milestones in-between the momentous dates. Before I left for college one semester, I bought a ridiculously expensive gold necklace. I bought it from Fortier’s, not K-Mart as I was accustomed. It meant a lot to me to devote that significant a portion of my paycheck(s) to the girl I could see myself marrying one day. I gave it to her, she acted grateful, and for the next 6 ½ years, it would remain in its case. Despite my constant reminders of the food and important textbooks I had to sacrifice at school, or how beautiful she would look wearing it, or that I could have made a necklace out of Fruit Loops and we could have left that in a case forever, in its case it remained. A small hiccup, I thought. I continued on with my courtship only slightly fazed.

The coup-de-grâce came as I gave her the ultimate gift, a wedding ring. What will stand to this day as the greatest and suavest achievement of my life, I proposed to my wife under the Eiffel Tower in Paris on a beautifully clear September evening. It was a scene that would make Kate Hudson fall in love with Matthew McConaughey all over again. Today, I love looking at the ring, as it is hidden amongst the Q-Tips in the bathroom or the spare keys in the kitchen junk drawer, and thinking about that special time. “It is because I don’t want it to get dirty,” she often claims. I always agree with her with a nod that signifies understanding as I twist my own ring up over the flesh that has grown around it in the 5 years that it has remained securely on my finger.

In the years that would follow our impending engagement, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Days, and Christmases passed and with them, wrapping paper was torn off of presents that signified only good intentions. I thought that my wife would really love the lotion and body spray gift pack. The gift certificate to the theatre would be a great opportunity to go out together. The motorized neck massager could help with her migraines. If not, then the professional spa massages would. All of these and countless other gifts were left unused. Of course, it is difficult to get a massage while pregnant, the Shiatsu massager felt weird, there is never enough time to go see a play, “Pearberry” just isn’t her scent, and a pure gold necklace doesn’t match anything that she usually wears.

Over the years, the dejection has taken its toll on me. I have practically given up on presents. I bought her a body pillow for her birthday because she had expressed a desire for one. I didn’t know that the desire was for it to lie under our bed collecting dust. I can no longer take her out to dinner for any event as one drop of milk, wheat, or soybean could turn a breast-feeding baby who cries most of the time into one who cries all of the time. The Christmas season came and, as one who is persistently dejected often does, I assured myself that this year would be different. This year, I would finally give my wife something amazing, something incredible, something that would stop making her compare the glory days of our courtship where she received tulips just because it felt like a tulipy day to the current days of drudgery where she is lucky to get a pinch on St. Patricks Day. This year would be great.

For Christmas, I got my wife a gridle to make my pancakes and bacon in the morning, neither of which she could ever eat. I got her an apron and a pot holder so as not to burn herself whilst getting dinner out of the oven for me. I got her two Wii games which she will never play but which I think are rather fun. And I got her two slipcovers for the Wii controllers which she will never use as she will never play the aforementioned games. Yes, I did it again. Good intentions mingled with my subconscious selfish desires and Miranda was, as it would seem, again the victim. I love my wife more than anything in this world, I have just lost the ability to show that love in gifts or outings or anything of even the most remote interest. If it is the thought that counts, I am still not sure where I stand. Of course, Valentines Day is approaching and, though I should have learned my lesson by now, I think that the red Snuggie and the subscription to Sports Illustrated (with the Swimsuit Edition included, of course) will finally break my streak and prove my undying, dejection-proof love.


Wendy said...

Ooh Cameron, Give yourself some credit. I think taking a crying baby every morning at 3:30, or whatever insanely early hour it may be, says a whole lot! I wouldn't have let her marry you if I didn't think you wouldn't try your hardest to show it.

Kara Thacker said...

this is Matt Thacker. I understand your pain. After so many christmas' of doing wonderful things for my wife this year i drew a blank. Christmas day as we were visiting my Grandmother I overheard my wife talking to some family members when she made the comment in sort of a disgusted tone that "yeah I dropped several hints to my husband for the 'Twilight' books and guess what santa didn't bring me." So i think you know what I was doing the day after christmas. :(

Brian R said...

Great writing as always. I had convinced myself that you weren't blogging because it wasn't showing up on my google reader, but I was apparently very mistaken. Now I just to find some way to actually read it without it working in my reader.

hannah banana said...

Good Blogging, Cameron. Hey, add us to your other family blog so we can check out what you guys have been up to. Our e-mail is