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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, December 8, 2000

Gift-buying tips
for the clueless guy

THIS is the time of year you start seeing advertising on television for gadgets and gizmos that are so important in life, so necessary to our ability to function in a modern world, that you never hear about them during the rest of the year.

These include little hand-held vacuum cleaners that double as cat groomers and industrial strength paint sprayers that you will attempt to use only once and put away for ever after painting the entire side of your house, your car, the shrubbery, your neighbor's boat and his recently groomed cat.

Actually, I was given an electric paint sprayer several years ago and it has not left the box. I look at it occasionally and once considered trying it out. But my better judgment just happened to be hanging around that day. So I closed the cover on the electric painter and the neighborhood is better for it.

For some reason, people buy things at Christmas that they would never buy any other time of the year. And advertisers know this. It is a time when couples learn that they really don't know each other as well as they should.

And so, in looking for that perfect present for their mate, they grasp at anything, like one of those fishing rods about a foot long, made by the same company that sells the cans of paint that you spray on bald spots to make people think you actually have hair there. The fishing rod looked so cool on the commercial and you couldn't beat the price. Frankly, I don't know why my wife wasn't thrilled with it.

Husbands are the worst when it comes to Christmas shopping for wives. Store managers know the kind of products they can put out that husbands will grab without even thinking. One year it was an electric massage pad. There were husbands lined up ten deep at the cash registers with those massage pads. They were thinking, "She'll love it! She's always asking for a massage." And the sad thing is that they really believe it. They think it's the greatest gift in the world and that they are being caring and sensitive. A massage pad is much more personal than the vacuum plastic bag sealer they got their wives the year before.

But getting your wife a massage pad is a perfect example of the concept that women are from Venus and men are from the planet Idiot.

LISTEN, men, and you have to trust me here, when women say they like massages they aren't saying that they want to own an electric massage pad. They are trying to tell you that you are not giving them enough attention and they'd like YOU to massage them. I know, it's a difficult concept.

When we say we'd like a nail gun, we mean we'd like a nail gun. We don't mean we'd like our wives to understand that we are under a lot of stress at work and need a little time to ourselves having a beer and watching football. If we felt that way we'd say, "Honey, I'm under a lot of stress at work and need a little time to myself having a beer and watching football."

What we're getting at here guys, is a warning this Christmas season: Do not buy anything that is advertised on a television commercial or that you find piled up in large stacks in major aisles of the department store. Those are sucker gifts, my friend.

Try to get something for your wife that says, "I love you, baby." Something that will bring you closer together. Something like, say, the George Forman Grill.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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