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Man’s Most Difficult Task


Ladies, please take pity on us. We have issues this time of year.

Each holiday season, there are thousands, scratch that, hundreds of thousands of men wandering the vaunted halls of posh shopping malls with that look of absolute confusion smothered on our faces like green chili on a Christmas tamale. It’s almost impossible to avoid.

Yes, we’ve spent the last year listening for hints, noting clues and taking notes on often less-than-subtle suggestions from the special woman in our lives.

We spend the months of November and December trying to decipher it all. Ladies, it might help if you just wrote down a detailed list of what you want including sizes, prices, websites and locations.

This may seem like overkill, but we are cursed, destined to misinterpret cues, miss explicit directions all together and just plain guess wrong.

Giving great gifts is supposed to be rewarding. For many of us it’s not.

For me, it’s near torture, and it gets worse every year.

Exhibit A: At the urging of my beautiful girlfriend, I purchased a 20-pack of yoga classes for Christmas last year. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that gift, especially when it was numero uno on her list, kills. But, sigh, I picked the wrong gym on a whim, giving her classes at the neighborhood’s most crowded yoga studio. She was bumped, stretched around and crowded into a teeny, tiny workout space just slightly smaller than her yoga mat. Finding a parking space was an even worse experience. Needless to say, she never finished the gift pack.

Exhibit B: A sleek-looking red digital picture taker to replace her long since broken camera. It was small. It was really cool looking, the kind you see promoted in flashy  television advertisements. It should have been a winner. Yet it takes mostly awful pictures, runs out of batteries at the most inconvenient times and has a pixilated screen as clear as the Flatirons on a heavy haze day. Something tells me I should’ve researched digital cameras more instead of being swayed by the advice of a pimple-faced teen working at the big-box electronic giant.

Exhibit C: A sleeping bag and camping accessory combo. Apparently I had a severe case of interpretive paralysis when I heard how much she loved the great outdoors. She actually does like camping, but her version is the plush car-by-the-river kind.

I probably should’ve gone with an outdoor inflatable mattress, lavishly heavy and comfy sleeping bag for two, a plush camping chair and a spa package.

There was also a hot air balloon ride that I still haven’t gotten around to taking her on, some unmentionables bought in France that were a little too big and numerous other gifting faux pas.

You could make a reality show about my shopping misadventures.

And yet, by some miracle, she hasn’t bolted out the door. For that, I am thankful and happy.

So I’ve been paying extra special attention this year, motivated more than ever to find the perfect present. I vow no more mistakes (with fingers crossed as I type this).

For me and the other men out there, we know how trying the process is. But when we absolutely, positively, without a doubt find the perfect gift for the women in our lives, it’s the genuine smile that makes it all worthwhile. That’s what I am going for this holiday season, which is why I started thinking early this year, having most of her gifts picked out before Black Friday.

But if I do mess up, again, I can always fall back on the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.”


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