The holiday season – and that down-and-blue feeling that inevitably follows Christmas Day – make it hard for me to write. HARD, I tell you. Especially considering that my wallet is still among the missing. I've been forced to acknowledge that, despite my best efforts to Pollyanna up and think positive, sometimes people will simply not do the right thing by, say, returning lost and valuable property to its rightful owner. (At this point, my faith in humanity would be restored just by getting back my bloody health insurance card. Do you really need that, person who has my wallet? Couldn't you just drop it in a mailbox?)
Still, I do have two good reasons to consider Christmas 2008 a smashing success:
1) That guy from high school who wanted me to be his Secret Loser Girlfriend has gotten fat and bald, AND
2) I knew, for the first time EVER, exactly what to give my dad as a gift.
See, of all the people in my family, it's my father who is the most difficult to shop for. Not because he's picky or obnoxious, mind you, but just because the things he likes are so impossibly random.
"Oh, come on," you are probably saying. "How random could they be?"
And to you I offer this:
A List of Things Which My Father Likes:
a nose flute
some movie called "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill"
the Battle of Algiers
See? SEE??? You try looking at a list like that and drawing any sort of meaningful conclusion about the tastes of the person in question. Sometimes I think he is just fucking with us.
And so, in the absence of the means to buy him a surefire winning present (sailboats are expensive, yo), I have consistently found myself casting about to get my father something he will really, really like for Christmas – always attempting to build upon what little knowledge I have through a series of if – then statements. For instance:
If he likes marzipan, then he will like Disaronno.
If he likes the nose flute, he will like a tribal percussion instrument.
If he likes Frank Zappa, then he will like Miles Davis.
And so on, and so forth. It all seemed logical, and not only that, I might never have known that I was consistently fucking up my father's Christmas presents… but for the fact that, one April, I asked my mother if he ever listened to the Miles Davis CD I'd given him the previous December.
"Oh, honey," replied my mother, patting my arm. "You know, that's just the kind of jazz that Daddy really HATES."
That was five years ago. I still can't think of it without wanting to crawl into a hole and die.
It wasn't just knowing that my dad hates Miles Davis; it was the dawning suspicion that this was not the first time I'd given him something really unsuitable. Total mortification ensued -- I found myself wishing that he had just opened the gift, gasped in horror, and shrieked, "Miles Davis?! Don't you know me AT ALL?!!!!" before running out of the room.
Embarrassing? Well, yeah… but not so much when compared with the prospect of a lifetime of shitty gifts.
So I was relieved, this year, to know exactly what to get for my dad. Not just a gift which he might like, but one which, according to several excellent laws, he is REQUIRED to like lest he be labeled a Bad Father:
--a framed picture of the two of us.
The only problem is that I (probably) won't be getting married again, and therefore this is a one-shot deal. But it gives me an extra year to save for the sailboat.