Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wish 'For Not' List

Around certain times of the year, many of us get flooded with people asking us "What do you want for...?".

The question comes around certain holidays like Christmas and Yule. It comes as anniversaries approach. We get the question in regards to weddings and graduations. Some people have gone so far as registering wish-lists for birthdays at places such as or Williams-Sonoma.

I prefer to be both easy and difficult. If somebody feels compelled to purchase a gift for me, I like it to be from the heart. I prefer something that represents a level of effort. That effort can be in the search. It can also be in maintaining how well they pay attention to who I am. I like things that are hand-made and unique. Any of the above more than suffice. I also like to be surprised. If I give people a list, I can usually expect to get that list. That is boring. It equates to asking for gift cards so I can just shop for my own gift.

If you know me, you know that cash gifts (or checks) don't fall into the same category as gift cards, in my perspective. those gifts go into one account or other. They amount to a gift of part of a large purchase, like a house. In the meantime, the money is invested and grows. So, it continues to give. I'd also graciously accept bonds, stocks, T-bills, and shares in mutual finds.

Gift cards do not accrue interest or dividends. With inflation, they actually decrease in value.

Those who give gift cards, don't be disparaged or think me unappreciative. I understand that some people send them because they intend me to use it towards a specific gift that cannot be easily mailed  at a reasonable cost. However, those few cases are usually coordinated with a phone call or a card with the intended gift stated. Besides, if my mother wanted to buy me a sweater or a sports jacket, she'd have some difficulty getting it fitted or knowing my size. (Guys, keep this in mind when buying clothing for your gals. In those cases, it may be a lot wiser to buy the gift card that will cover the item. Put the card in with a picture of the item. Make the note flattering. Then let her try it on, buy it, or buy something she might be more comfortable wearing.)

Also, do not get me wrong. The gift cards will be used. There is an amount of though behind them, many times. For example, one for Williams-Sonoma is a good choice. I love to cook. but keeping up with my growing collection of cooking utensils can be difficult. So, if somebody sends one with a picture of a gelato maker, I'll gleefully thank them and buy something else (I already have one, and love it.)

So, don't worry. Gift cards may not be my favorite form of gift. They, however, are NOT on the "don't get" list.

So, I am not a "wish-list" guy.

I am a "wish for not" guy. I can give you a list of things I'd rather you stayed away from. Those who know me fairly well probably don't need that list. Even as a "gag gift" items on that list can become painful for anybody around.

Don't buy me undergarments. Period.

Don't buy me sport-team fan apparel, unless you are confident what teams (or athletes in non-team sports) I like. Here is a huge hint:  if it isn't a Chicago team, you can expect to have it epoxied to your body and set on fire. (Really, I won't set people on fire. I will set effigies of people on fire, though.)

Don't buy me DVDs or Blu-Ray Disks. My wife will greatly attest why this is a very bad idea. I may already have it. I may have it in HD digital. I may not want it. I may have already owned it and dumped it in the "ready to sell as used" pile.

Don't buy me expendables or consumables. The exception is scotch. If you buy me scotch, it says you love me. The older and finer the scotch, the more you love me. I like scotch old enough to order itself at the bar. If it is old enough to run for president (but can't because it was born in Scotland), it is probably perfect. Then again, it won't be gone in a week, either.

The other exception to the consumables is really fine spices. I cook. Fellow foodies out there appreciate my meaning here.

I can go on with the list, but I really am not a "negatives" guy. If I list too many negatives, people may get the idea that I'm overly picky. That is not the case. I really am easy to buy for. The thought and effort mean more to me than monetary value. The gifts themselves take on sentimental value that far exceeds the price-tag.

As an example, friends of mine bought me an 18 year old bottle of scotch one year. Later, when asked about it, I may have given off an air of "meh, thanks, not a big deal". About a week later I made sure they understood that I meant "No! That was an 18 year old [brand redacted]! Dude, that was kick ass! Thank You!". Sometimes my "emotional responses" come out a bit too "deadpan".

All of this is background towards the rest of the article.

One year, I was inundated with "what do you want..." requests. So, I wrote an essay intended  to be somewhat humorous. Unfortunately, the satire was not immediately recognized.

My writing style sometimes tends to take on one perspective, then flip it around. So, the hook can infuriate people once in a while. This article was one of those times.

I had friends who knew me well erupt in anger, preparing to rip my head off. I had one who got halfway through the essay and was floored in disbelief. She was appalled believing I actually meant the things said in the hook.

I received  loads of hate-mail and threatening comments from regular readers. Most of them swore they'd not only never read my writings again, but would close me down.

I found that hilarious. So did those who read the full article instead of stopping at the jump and composing a hateful response. After a little urging, most went back and finished reading the article. They got the joke.

I wrote this years ago, in 2007. That was before I met the woman who would actually marry me. I was "single and not looking" at the time.

Without further ado, I present a reprint of the following:

All I want for my Birthday is a Stepford Wife

My birthday is still a few days away. Every year I have friends going nuts over what to get me. I have a rather expansive DVD collection. Usually a movie or TV season I want comes out and I have it on release day, ordered on Netflix, or downloading on iTunes. It’s the same with books. I love books. I have a huge catalogue of them. I have a list of about 50 that are still on my shelf waiting to be cracked open. To top it off, I recently bought a Kindle and can download many books and periodical subscriptions straight to it.

Music is just as difficult. My tastes vary with my mood. I have a few thousand CDs, a couple of hundred vinyl records, and an MP3 collection that makes most people faint (I have two external hard drives filled and a third started).

I own a PS3. I have games for it. I am picky about the games I play. I also am not addicted to the damned thing. Basically, occasionally, I will play one of the games I have. Usually, this includes having multiple days off in a row, something I rarely get these days. Hell, I am happy with just two days off from work. It means I can rest one day and clean house the second (or vice versa). Lately, I get only one full day off a week. I have games that I have not even opened yet.

Time off would be a great present.

Guitar stuff would be great. I can always use strings, picks, a new 6-string acoustic (full size, not a “starter”). But you’d have to know me well enough to know what brands I prefer. Like many musicians, I’m picky.

Nah, the best gift would be a wife, a perfect wife. People want to see me happy, that could make me happy. Yes, a perfect wife.

Let’s take an inventory of the features of a Stepford wife.

1. A Stepford wife is in great shape, is in her physical prime, and won’t age.
2. A Stepford wife is a perfect homemaker, keeps the house clean and neat.
3. A Stepford wife is ready for sex whenever I want it, and is always good… never protests anything kinky.
4. A Stepford wife is loyal.
5. A Stepford wife requires very little maintenance.
6. A Stepford wife doesn’t nag or complain.
7. A Stepford wife always makes her husband look good. It is her role.
8. A Stepford wife is content staying at home. She doesn’t need to work. She has no aspirations or dreams that have to be catered to.
9. A Stepford wife doesn’t argue, complain, or try to exert her point of view.
10. A Stepford wife doesn’t get overly emotional, doesn’t cry, doesn’t get insecure, and doesn’t overreact.

It all seems pretty appealing, doesn’t it? I mean, the list can go on for a few more bullets. However, this covers some of the biggest draws for a perfect home appliance for a guy.

Yes, I said it, “a home appliance”.

A Super-toaster

A full-service Molly Maid

Best Buy, Lowe’s, and Home Depot would make a mint selling them.

I’m sure by now most of my female readers are already writing their flaming comments about how much of a closet misogynist I am. I assure you that I am not being chauvinistic. These are actually qualities that some guys look for. Before your fingers of hellfire start tapping in words of sulfur and brimstone in an effort to raise cover, posse, or cabal in a crusade to destroy me; read on. By now you all know that I leave a punch-line for the end.

While this would be a great help around the house, I would probably return this gift before the 90 day limit ended. The free trial period would probably find me going nuts by day 30.

Now let’s take a look at why:

1. A Stepford wife is in great shape, is in her physical prime, and won’t age.

While physical prime is a great thing, half the fun of being with somebody is having somebody to keep in shape with, and keep in shape for (other than yourself and your personal quality of life). I am an outdoors person a good portion of the time. While I want somebody who can keep up with me on a hike, I want somebody who enjoys hiking, for the sights, for the fresh air, and for the exercise. As far as the aging thing goes… the thought of growing old with somebody actually turns me on. I want that lifelong relationship. I want to grow with somebody. I don’t want somebody who is stagnant. That is part of having a life with somebody, aging is part of life. It is essential to it. Fuck stagnation. Stagnation equals death. Fuck death.

2. A Stepford wife is a perfect homemaker, keeps the house clean and neat.

Ok, I have a certain amount of OCD. I think everybody has their quirks. I must admit that I drive myself nuts when I get too busy at work and have not the energy to clean my place the way I like it. But you know what? I have a buddy who was married to an OCD queen. The house was immaculate, sure. But it was like a museum! I don’t mean a place like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago with all the hands-on exhibits. I mean, shoes came off while you were still outside! You felt guilty about sitting ANYWHERE! There were no signs of anybody living there. There were no indications of any form of fun or relaxation in the house. A home should be neat and sanitary. But it should also be lived in and homey. It should be someplace to relax, enjoy time off, and enjoy private/personal time with the people you love. It should be a place you are not ashamed to have friends come to, but should also be a place where friends feel welcome.

3. A Stepford wife is ready for sex whenever I want it, and is always good… never protests anything kinky.

First of all… seduction is a great game between couples. It is part of foreplay. The occasional playing “hard to get” spices up a relationship. Also, if you read parts of my earlier blogs about my ideas on sex, there has to be that emotional bond. Sex is great if it is part of making love. You can make love without having sex. You can have sex without making love. I prefer to make love. If sex is part of it, that’s great. But it is all about that mutual sharing of self. It is all about giving your being over to another, and accepting the other into you. Kinky stuff once in a while can spark up the physical or psychological aspects of passion. But it is also important to have somebody there to help draw lines between physical love and debauchery.

4. A Stepford wife is loyal.

Yeah, loyal with no free will. The Stepford wife doesn’t choose loyalty or fidelity. You know, if somebody doesn’t want to be with me, she should have the freedom to choose so. I want somebody with free will. I want somebody who makes that decision to give herself to only me every day, by her own desire, her own choice. I am a huge advocate of the power of choice. I am a huge advocate of free will. I can’t be with somebody who doesn’t have either. Sorry, that is a HUGE turn-off. So is being cheated on. But you don’t have love and trust if one or the other is incapable of making that conscious choice.

5. A Stepford wife requires very little maintenance.

I like to be pampered from time to time. On the flipside, I LOVE to pamper. I like to treat somebody I feel is special with a little special treatment. I like going and shopping for a new dress with somebody. (I’m not too big on the shoes thing, though. I own my combat boots, a pair of black dress shoes that go with everything, a pair of Doc Marten’s, a pair of running shoes, and my Birkenstock sandals. I don’t get the whole shoes thing. I mean, find one or two COMFORTABLE pairs that go with most of your wardrobe. Owning 50 pairs of low-mid priced shoes that you may only wear once or twice is a galactic waste of money AND storage space.) I enjoy going to the spa. Ok, before you go all “he’s a metro-sexual” on me, let me tell you why. During my second tour in Iraq, I went on a pass to Qatar. They had a spa down there. One of my fellow NCOs made us an appointment for “the works”. I got a manicure. I keep my nails shaped and clean. But I couldn’t believe the gunk they pulled off my hands. I got a pedicure. Guys, trust me… they are worth it. After years of abusing my feet and especially 15 months, at that time, of pounding sand, it was awesome! No, I didn’t get polish put on either my hands or feet. I got a facial done. The amount of dead skin and crap pulled out of my pores left me feeling a LOT cleaner and looking younger. The massage, well, show me one guy who doesn’t like a massage. So girls, you got a straight guy here that would love to take you to a spa to get you all pampered and feeling great… and yes, I will do the same. I also like bathing my partners. I like to wash their hair. I like to scrub their backs. On occasion, I like to wash more than just their backs… but that usually involves more than just bathing them. I also like to be the one that somebody gets all dolled-up for, on occasion. But I also like a gal who has no problems putting on jeans, grabbing a gun and a backpack with food and water in it (plus maybe a nice picnic set) and heading up into the mountains. I like somebody who, once in a while, needs or wants to put her head on my lap or just be held. I like somebody with some needs and desires.

6. A Stepford wife doesn’t nag or complain.

Ok, this is a tough one to deliberate. Nagging will get you tuned-out very quickly. So will needless complaining. On the other hand, though, if somebody doesn’t identify a problem or something that can be improved, things don’t get improved. I want somebody who can encourage me to be a better person and will help me continue to grow. Sometimes, a small amount of nagging is part of that. Also, this goes back to the whole free will thing. Somebody who never complains is probably somebody who doesn’t have a brain.

7. A Stepford wife always makes her husband look good. It is her role.

This is another one that is difficult to contend. But once again, it goes back to free will. Fuck roles. Somebody should help their partner look good because it makes BOTH look good. It should never be about one or the other person. It should be about both partners. In addition, it isn’t a competition between the partners. It is the partners competing with the world, or parts of the world that conflict against them. When one or the other wins, both win. A relationship is about partners. It is about a team. A true team has no superstars. The Bulls didn’t win by having MJ take every shot. The Bulls won by making sure whoever could make the shot took it… be it Pippin, the Worm, or whoever. We didn’t win the World Cup because of Mia Hamm alone. Brandi Chastain, Lilley, and the rest of the TEAM did it through teamwork. (mmmm… Brandi Chastain taking off her jersey and doing that back-flip in celebration… mmmm… Sorry, fond memories. Brandi and I were born on the same day and in the same hospital, BTW. So, Happy Birthday Brandi!). Sorry for the sports analogies. But sports are usually the best analogies for teamwork.

8. A Stepford wife is content staying at home. She doesn’t need to work, has no aspirations or dreams that have to be catered to.

Again, a relationship is all about partnership. While I am not against having a housewife, if I am making more than enough to support the household, I sure as hell believe in equity. People need to work. They need to do something that makes them feel like they are accomplishing something. A home requires money. It is logical that a wife works. She’ll be a happier person and the bills will get paid. It is best for all involved. Now, if she makes enough to finance the household and wants me to stay at home, do the chores, etc… I’m comfortable with that as well. But she better not complain if I go out and get a job. Again, it is not about competition. It is a partnership. Also, a person without dreams and aspirations is stagnant. As I already said, fuck stagnation. The partnership of a relationship is about helping each other’s dreams come true. Yes, you may need to balance them. Yes, one may have to sacrifice for the other, now. But tomorrow should be the reciprocation. Damn it, if you love somebody, bolster them! Help them FLY! Be a coach, cheerleader, prop-monkey. Her success is your success, and vice versa. And one last little thought… it’s cool to cater to HER sexual fantasies.

9. A Stepford wife doesn’t argue, or try to exert her point of view.

This means that the Stepford wife has no fucking mind of her own. It means she has no opinions. It means she doesn’t read. It means she doesn’t think. While I don’t want to have to argue over every silly little thing, a good debate is good for the mind and soul. Also, a certain amount of arguing IS a way of showing you care. Believe it or not, half the arguments in a relationship are because they care. If I’m being stupid, call me on it. Yeah, I’ll fight back, at first. So what? I’m human! But fight fair! Give me a chance to cool down and discuss it… but the initial fight is a door for communication being kicked open. Sometimes that door NEEDS to be kicked open. The idea is not to immediately slam it shut. Also, debate can be mental foreplay… Now that’s sexy.

10. A Stepford wife doesn’t get overly emotional, doesn’t cry, doesn’t get insecure, and doesn’t overreact.

Overreaction is a sign of giving a fuck. It is also a sign of miscommunication. It is that door being kicked open. If you are joyous and happy and celebrating, let me celebrate with you. If you are laughing, let me laugh with you. Let me share all your joys and pains. Share mine. Damn it, if you are sad, cry. Cry on my shoulder. Bite my chest if you are frustrated. Lean on me if you are weary. Be yourself around me. Let me do the same. Don’t make me a crutch. But let me be a handhold. Don’t hide your insecurities. Let me allay them. Allay mine. Use me as a sparring partner, but not a punching bag. Don’t be afraid to reciprocate. I take martial arts. A good sparring partner is all about trust. You trust each other to give it your all. But you trust each other not to hurt one another. It is partnership. It is about making each other better. It is about pushing each other’s limits without stepping over the line. Yes, once in a while a strike or block gets away from you. But trust me, the sting of that slip-up hurts the one who threw it more than the one it impacted. The same goes with an emotional sparring partner. It is about making each other stronger. In doing so, you make the partnership stronger. You make the team stronger. It is not combat. It is about love, not war. When he or she lets her defenses down, don’t take advantage. It means the sparring is over and it is time for a rub-down, not a cheap-shot. In martial arts, that marks the time to bow and thank your partner… show the mutual respect. In love, it is time to hold each other. It is time to kiss. It is time to thank the other for being in your life.

Yeah… a Stepford wife is definitely OFF the list.

However, I could use a massage and six months of service from “Molly Maid”.