Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gifted And Talented

Buying gifts is not my forte. It is a process I would describe as agonizing, but that has nothing to do with braving the crowds or fighting for the last Tickle-Me-PlayStation 3 or what have you. It is agonizing because it involves me wandering through store after store searching for the perfect gift, and not having any idea what I am doing.

See, buying gifts requires one to be a thoughtful person, who keeps other people in mind rather than oneself, which is not something I was really brought up doing. Yet it's a necessary skill, so that when you see something others might like, the thought automatically strikes you: "Hey, you know who would love this? ____!" And then you buy a gift for them.

The ideal situation is when you remember some casually dropped nugget of information from months earlier and ta-da! a great gift. But more often than not, you don't have that--or probably I just missed it because I was clueless, or busy thinking about myself. And so I am stuck. Let's say I am buying a gift for Stephanie. She always buys me terrific presents, which makes me feel even worse about the fact that I never know what to get for her. Lately we have worked out a system whereby she gives me helpful "hints" by outright telling me a few things she's had her eye on. Even so, I can't coast entirely on that list, because that is boring and unthoughtful. So there is always a certain amount of wandering around and trying to guess at her taste.

Now, I know Stephanie's taste, and I recognize what looks good on her... but usually only when I see her wearing it. She has bought things that look great, but that I would never have guessed were her style if I saw them hanging in a store. In a store, everything looks the same to me. It's hard enough convincing myself it's worth it to spend money on clothes for myself, let alone something that I'm not sure someone else will like. And if I just buy things that I would like to see on her, she would probably come out looking like some kind of J-pop indie rocker chick schoolgirl. Which is cool, but not exactly something she could wear to work all the time.

The other terrible thing about buying gifts is that you have to wrap them. Using wrapping paper seems like it ought to be an easy thing, but few things are capable of proving so economically what a clumsy, all-thumbed oaf I am. Sure, you could ask me to play a sport, but first I would have to change clothes and we would have to go to a park and a good hour would go by before my ineptitude revealed itself. Hand me a roll of wrapping paper and a small box and you will have your answer instantly. If I in fact possess the ability to produce a wrapped gift that does not look like a crumpled piece of trash, I have yet to discover it. How is it that females seem to innately understand how to manipulate paper so that it fits neatly and snugly around a box? Is it easy? I think maybe I could one day learn how to do it, but I am pretty sure it would require an intensive six-week course, and when it was over each gift would still take me about five hours and several rolls of wrapping paper to get right.



lyan! said...

I'm with you on the gifting front. You want to step it up to the extreme, try guessing people's interests from abroad!
Luckily I think I can guess my family enough (or really can't go wrong). Other people, like say Lydia who thinks that all places have the same shopping freedoms as akihabara Tokyo (:P), I wonder, get disappointed because I can't find the stuff they want.

As far as wrapping goes, I remember asking my school where I could get wrapping paper, and they almost laughed and then pointed to the setting sun. Seriously, the nearest REAL paper was 50 miles away. Wow. Anyway, what I ended up doing was getting a magazine of j-boy hairstyles. It worked pretty well and was kind of funny too. I did it again this year, but it didn't come out as well.
While the paper-choice often sucks, I do always love the mechanics of wrapping. Especially weirdly-shaped ones.

Merry Christmas Kenny!

lydia said...

I can give you a 2 hour tutorial on wrapping next week if you like ;)

Steve said...

I used to have the opposite problem. I'd get really good gifts for my family, and they'd get me such hideous crap that I'd be depressed at the realization of just how little my family knows about me.

So I stopped putting effort or thought into buying gifts for them.

cyshas said...

Late for X-mas but there's still V-day. If you keep your ears open and get hints for a restaurant or show that she wants to visits. It's thoughtful of you to remember and take her there, esp. if it's not someplace you'd normally go to yourself.