Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Awesome gifts, disasters

It's a fine line if you're a guy

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You are going to have a hard time believing this.

There I was the other evening, lying on the couch trying to recover from the Killer Death Flu from Mars when, suddenly and without warning, my wife and daughter decided to go shopping at IKEA.

Seriously, I was lying there, a brave little soldier, with barely enough strength to operate the TV remote control, and instead of providing the kind of nurturing care I used to get from my mother -- such as making me chicken soup with those little star-shaped noodles in it, or rubbing my feverish forehead and saying "poor little bunny" over and over -- the women in my life opted instead to go shopping at a Swedish store that sells furniture you have to put together yourself.

Call me a heroic crusader with rheumy eyes and a phlegmy cough if you must, but I didn't utter a word of complaint when they walked out the door. Instead, I bravely rolled my eyeballs in their general direction and hoarsely croaked what I was sure would be my final wish: "Bring me a present!"

And they did. A couple of hours later, they staggered back in from the cold, and, from the depths of an IKEA bag, pulled out the perfect gift for any guy of my gender battling an illness that while it doesn't kill you, makes you wish that it would.

"Here you are, poor baby," my wife cooed as she handed me the gift -- a swell new sippy cup, which, in case you have forgotten, is one of those spill-proof drinking cups designed for toddlers with especially poor hand-eye co-ordination.

But this was no ordinary sippy cup. No, this sippy cup had a lid made to resemble a puppy's face, so when you drink from it, you literally have to suck the liquid through the puppy's nostrils.

Is that a great present, or what? The answer: Yes, it's an awesome present for a sick guy.

The point I am trying to make, however, is that not all presents are as wonderful and useful as the one I received from my wife and daughter.

I know this because earlier this week, an editor sent me an email containing a news release from Kijiji, the online classified ads site, which is holding a contest to find out which pitiful Canadian received the worst gift under the tree this Christmas.

The email contained the Top 10 Terrible Gifts from across the country (you can vote for your favourite worst gift until Jan. 21 at www.Facebook.com/Kijiji.ca) and they include:

1) Pre-scratched lottery tickets;

2) Safety masks;

3) A package of insulation;

4) Coffee, bacon and waffle-flavoured dental floss;

5) Pink bra (intended for someone else);

6) Piggy bank shaped like a butt;

7) Creepy ceramic cat;

8) Beat-up old taxidermied beaver;

9) Plush dog (toy to replace a recently deceased pet);

10) Giant bottle of water (but no water cooler).

Again I ask: Are these great presents, or what? Again I answer: YES! I feel this way because I happen to be a guy and -- this is a proven scientific fact -- guys are idiots when it comes to the sensitive area of giving gifts.

For instance, many Christmases ago, to show the depth of his feelings, my dad gave my mom an ironing board. In my dad's defence, it was a really nice ironing board, but my mother, surprisingly, did not accept it in the loving spirit with which it was given.

I apparently inherited the manly gift-giving gene from my father. I base this on the fact that two years ago, on Christmas, I gave my wife something I firmly believed no woman could refuse -- a stretchy dress covered completely in sparkly silver sequins.

I expected my wife to be thrilled with my fashion sense, but this turned out to be my ironing-board moment. It was clear she would rather have received a year's supply of bacon-flavoured dental floss, but I persuaded her to try the silver sequins on.

My wife shot me a look that male readers will understand.

"You're an idiot," she sniffed. "I look like a (very bad word) disco ball."

Gift-giving is a complex area, but we should remember what the experts say: It's the thought that counts.

I assume these experts were guys.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2013 A2

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