Why is Allie's dad so happy? Because he opened a gift bag and found towels.
And not just any towels, but man-sized green towels
that match the bathroom. Perfect. I've never met Allie's dad and I only found this picture via a creative commons flickr search. Nevertheless, I feel you, my brother
See, I've recently joined the League of Extraordinarily Hard-To-Buy-For Older Gentlemen who stymie friends and loved ones at gift-giving occasions. We're blessed to have all we need, we no longer fantasize about extravagant hot tubs and XKEs, and we protest the commodification of our remaining flaws -- so, please, back away from that nose-hair trimmer.
If there is a similarly troublesome dad, husband, boyfriend or other manner of old dude in your life, I can assure you that we're really very simple creatures. We're generally happiest with stuff that we can see or feel every day. Like nice towels.
I can only speak for myself, of course, and I have it on good authority that some members of the League of Extraordinarily Hard-To-Buy-For Women may appreciate similar gifts. With the holidays upon us and the threat of opening another nose-hair trimmer looming, I offer twenty gift ideas that might bring an actual smile:
1. The League gives locally and generously. If yer troublesome dude is a local criminologist, for example, he'd relish your applying his gift to 180 degrees, the Sentencing Project, the Council on Crime & Justice, or the Legal Action Center. Heifers are also nice.
2. Fix his old watch
, don't buy a new one. It probably just needs a battery or band
. Now, if you can somehow restore his father's or grandfather's watch to operation, you might get actual tears.
3. A nice belt,
dress or casual, especially if he's down to the last hole on the old one. The black faux-alligator
look is always a stylish choice.
4. Classic shades.
Aviators are popular, though I prefer clubmasters
. Don't pay too much, though, since vintage or knock-offs are fine.
5. Vest, not sweater
. Aside from the garish colors and reindeer adorning the front, the real reason guys don't wear gift sweaters is because the sleeves don't fit. For example, the long lad
and I both wear "large" sweaters, but his arms are 38-39" long and mine are 32-33" long. We would look terrible wearing an identical sweater, but sporty if we donned the same vest. Also, pick a solid color and soft fabric -- something that would look good under a sporty-coat or with jeans.
6. Socks, not ties. League members refuse to pay more than $5 for a bag o' tube socks, but we really appreciate better socks for running, working outdoors, and dress. Just don't get cute with the patterns.
Stuff he touches every day
8. He'll appreciate a good pillow
, though he'll likely retain great attachment to the old one -- even if it doesn't smell so good. New pillows can be worked into the rotation like major league pitchers: don't ask them to go the distance until they've had a little success out of the bullpen.
Tools he'll use
9. Many people do not realize that they need a sawz-all
until they own a sawz-all.
10. A heavy-duty bench vice
for the garage or basement is a great gift when measured in cost-per-pound. It is almost as heavy as a good anvil
, but way more useful. Make him guess what it is before he opens it. If you'll be mailing the gift, vice grip
locking pliers might be more practical.
11. Roll or bag o' quarters
. He'll use these, especially if he keeps them in the car for meters and/or self-defense
(but please heed #5: gentlemen do not
"beat down" attackers with rolls of quarters).
12. Like me, many members of the League are both patriotic and dorky. We therefore appreciate gifts like these here quarters
from the Franklin Mint.
14. The League doesn't usually go in for cute stuff, but no man can resist a wee amplifier
. Guitar accessories like strings, picks, and stands are also appreciated.
15. If he's still clinging to old vinyl, pick up an old record changer
at goodwill. Or, better yet, dust off that turntable in the basement and set it up with a new cartridge at the needle doctor
16. Food he can use: a frozen box o' meat, box o' fish, or box o' vegetarian comestibles.
17. Jerky and/or candy. You know, snackage.
18. The gift of stank is controversial within the League, though some of us like a li'l travel-size cologne
in our stockings. Armani Code
is too pricey though, mostly because he'll like it and will want to purchase more.
20. Okay, I'll admit I'm the only member of the League to put Softsoap Pink Grapefruit Body Wash
on my list, but daughter will no longer let me borrow hers. Very refreshing. And it pairs well with classic grapefruit spoons
and, as Allie's dad would aver, man-sized green towels.