What Not To Get Jim

Since I know most of you are last minute shoppers, and most of you are just dying to know, here is a list of things you should exclude from your list when buying me a Christmas present.

  • Anything by Hammett, Chandler, McDonald, or Parker.  I have almost all of them.  And the Robert Parkers I don’t have I don’t really want.
  • Ditto Ken Bruen, Laura Lippman, or John Scalzi.  If you see their name on the spine, assume I already own it.
  • I do not want CD’s by Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, or Garbage.  See above.  I own them all.
  • In fact, if you’re thinking of anything resembling the above, just get me a gift card to Barnes & Noble or your favorite indie shop.  ‘Kay?
  • A smart phone.  Really, I need to try before I buy with these things.  The LG touchscreen I got last year was a lemon, so I’m tolerating a Jitterbug-like Motorola flip until my carrier will give me a discount on a phone made after Y2K.
  • A watch.  I used to know a guy who was big on watches and said everyone should own three.  That’s a wonderful hobby, and I would tend to agree.  Except putting a watch on my wrist will doom it.  Virtually every watch I’ve owned since high school has ended up destroyed within six months of me receiving it.  The fine craftsmen at Casio are usually outraged.  So I stick with my cell phone. [Note:  I wrote this before my unemployed brother-in-law bought me a watch for Christmas.  Oh, damned delayed posts!  Damn you!]
  • Subscriptions to Maxim, Playboy, or Stuff. Please.  The women in those pages are airbrushed beyond recognition.  My life is not so miserable that I have to self-gratify to the Photoshop equivalent of a blow-up doll to make it all better.  Besides, Nita gets the Victoria’s Secret Catalog anyway and promptly hands it to me when it arrives.  Now that’s a secure marriage.  Of course, I’ve been known to point out items I think would look good coming off Nita.  Occasionally, she’s been known to buy them.
  • Wine.  I don’t know enough about wine to know if it’s any good or not.  Which means my palate is probably not developed enough to appreciate fine wine.
  • Writing aids and books:  I own exactly four books on writing:  Lawrence Block’s three brilliant volumes on the subject and Stephen King’s On Writing.  I don’t need any writing software (That’s what Word is for.), cute little writing trinkets, Moleskine notebooks, or fountain pens.  Nobody writes with a fountain pen anymore, despite the fact my eighth grade English teacher insisted they were necessary to write letters with.
  • Candy.  Hey, I won’t say no, but I am trying to cut back.
  • DVD’s of Hee Haw.  Yes, Hee Haw is the only form of child abuse I’ve ever endured.  Same goes for Mama’s Family.
  • Star Trek paraphenalia, books, DVD’s, etc.  For starters, when I was a big Trekkie, people got me the stupidest things like the Dr. McCoy bath mat or the Captain Kirk Collectible Dinner Plate(TM) (painted with lead paint, so you couldn’t use it for anything but making any room look tacky.)  Second, I burned out on Trek when Brannon Braga decided to foist Voyager on us.  Third, and this goes back to a running theme here, if there’s something Trekkish I really want, I probably already owned it at one time.  In fact, I gave away virtually everything.  Nita informs me Santa is bringing forth the JJ Abrams DVD, so I’m covered.  Thanks.
  • Cologne. I hate cologne.  I have a bottle of Aramis I bought for my first date with Nita, and she gave me a bottle of her favorite fragrance.  So if I’m wearing cologne, it’s likely I’m trying to get Nita to wear nothing at some point that evening.  So let Nita pick what gets her in the mood.  The rest of you can make do with the unscented stick of Sure I use daily.

That’s pretty much it.

A Very Kenwood Christmas

My first Christmas in Cincinnati found me doing my first ever Christmas Eve shopping dash.  I ended up at Kenwood Towne Center, the mall nearest the then-inlaws’ place.  Big mistake.  In looking for a parking place, I wound up in a standoff with another guy waiting for the same parking space to open.

I stared.  He stared.  Somewhere nearby, a car stereo blared the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Finally, the car pulled out and away.  It was on.

Or was it?

Before I or my nemesis could get our feet off our respective brakes, two women in expensive sedans whipped around us and shot into the same parking space.  Or tried to.

As Michio Kaku will explain on his many television appearances, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  What a waste of a Lexus and a BMW.

My nemesis and I got out, looked at each other, then watched the two vicious ladies cuss each other out.  One of these ladies was a eucharistic minister at my church at the time.

“You know,” I said to my nemesis, “it’s really not a bad day to walk.”

“I’m parking over by the Kroger,” he said.

“I’ll join you.”

Half the Kroger lot was empty.  Nemesis and I parked without incident or conflict.

I suspect the two ladies got lumps of coal in their stockings.