Over the years, I’ve learned that women often have trouble figuring out what to buy for men. I know this because of phone calls from girlfriends or wives of male acquaintances asking for help in selecting a gift for their men.
So what should you get for your man, ladies? Well, this is a tricky question, but luckily, you’ve come to the right place, because the man writing this article happens to be married with kids, and over 30. This means I no longer give a shit about the male vow of silence which we all took in the secret ceremony whose existence you have always suspected but never known for sure until now.
The first and biggest problem with gift selection for men is that we have a unique way of letting you know what gifts we like: we go out and buy them for ourselves. Usually on credit, and without bothering to consult you beforehand. This leads to the first problem with gift selection:
Problem #1: By the time you women know what we want, we’ve already bought it for ourselves.
This problem may seem intractable, but there are solutions. The first trick is to clamp down on our discretionary spending. After all, your man can’t run out and buy himself all the things he likes if you’ve cut his credit card into pieces and made joint authorization mandatory on bank withdrawals. But this is only one aspect of the solution, since we men are inventive creatures, and we will often find ways to evade your watchful eye.
For example, it is ridiculously easy to “upgrade” the home PC by swapping out one or more components (sometimes all of them except for the exterior case) for faster, newer versions. And since you don’t know squat about computers, you will believe the fantastic lie that the family computer is being completely disassembled in order to “fix” something that spontaneously broke. Best of all, the components can be purchased one at a time on petty cash withdrawals from Interac machines, thus nickel-and-diming the entire operation. Hint: you can tell your man has done this when he stops complaining about how slow the computer is.
So in the end, trying to cut off his financial support is akin to stopping water with your hands; he will find a way around you. So you must stay one step ahead of him, and buy him a gift which he has not already bought for himself. Unfortunately, this leads us to problem #2.
Problem #2: Mens’ favourite toys are hideously expensive.
Women have their disgustingly pointless and narcissistic self-indulgences such as diamonds, earrings, and shoe collections so large you must purchase a storage unit to hold them, but they can’t hold a candle to the average man, whose idea of a cool toy is a Humvee. And not one of those limp-wristed new “H2 Hummers” (which are really just glorified SUVs and were invented for pansies wearing polo shirts), but a real military-style Humvee, preferably with the .50cal machine gun on top. Or perhaps the ultimate snowmobile, as seen in the accompanying picture. Failing that, he might yearn for something with an exotic Italian name such as “Ferrari”, “Lamborghini”, or “Lolita” (if it’s the latter, you might want to hire a private investigator to follow him around).
If you’re not wealthy, then you don’t have to worry about buying such items for him because he will understand that they’re simply beyond reach. Luckily, the genius of the consumer market is that it can invent targets for wasteful male discretionary spending at any price point. This is why home electronics stores exist. Unfortunately, this leads us to problem #3:
Problem #3: Women don’t understand mens’ toys. At all.
We men can sit around and talk about technical performance comparisons on toys such as cars, TVs, motorbikes, CD players, stereo loudspeakers, and computers all day. We call it “tech talk”. Women, however, suffer from an unfortunate medical problem: the female hormone known as estrogen reacts negatively with tech talk to produce sleep-inducing neurotransmitters in the brain.
This means that women simply do not understand anything about mens’ toys, and worse yet, their brains suffer neurochemical failure the moment someone tries to explain it to them. The salesman in “Best Buy” is well aware of this phenomenon, and nothing makes his beady little eyes light up faster than a woman wandering the aisles alone during the holiday season. He knows she’s shopping for a cool electronic gadget for her man, and you can almost hear the cha-ching! sound in his head. The resulting exchange will go something like this:
SALESMAN: Can I help you, ma’am?
HAPLESS WOMAN (cheerful): Yes, I’m looking for a DVD player for my fiancé.
SALESMAN (looking upward): Thank you, God! I mean, yes, I can help you with that. What kind of DVD player are you looking for?
HAPLESS WOMAN (taken aback): Ummm, there’s more than one kind? Do you mean brand name?
SALESMAN: No, I’m talking about features. Do you think your husband would want a DVD player capable of progressive-scan output? Does he need component outputs using RCA plugs and coaxial cables, or is his television set limited to S-Video and composite video signal connections? Is this for a home theatre installation? Will you need a built-in Dolby Digital decoder? What about DTS? Do you need fibre-optic digital outputs, or will coaxial digital outputs do? What kind of television set do you have? Remember: if you get the wrong player, you might not get the kind of picture that you want. And not all discs will play to their fullest capabilities. And your dog will get sick and die.
HAPLESS WOMAN (confused): Ummm, well, the TV set is a Sony. Does that help?
SALESMAN: God loves me. I mean, yes. Sony TVs generally incorporate the latest features, so you’ll want this player here (pointing at the most ridiculously expensive player in the store, which is sitting on a pedestal behind a bulletproof glass enclosure complete with laser tripwire security systems).
HAPLESS WOMAN (dismayed): Ohhh, that’s very expensive. I wasn’t planning to spend that kind of money. What about this one over here?
SALESMAN: Well, that one is very cheap, but it’s made in China. By communists. In a sweatshop. By children. Starving children. Starving orphaned children. Working for 18 hours a day on a single grain of rice, so they can keep the costs down. If you look closely, you can see the little fingerprints.
HAPLESS WOMAN (shocked): Oh no, I would never support that. Is there something in between those two extremes?
SALESMAN: Oh yes, there’s this model here. It has most of the features of the bigger unit, but it only costs half as much! And it’s a Sony, so it will work well with your TV. And it’s made by adults. Capitalist adults. Capitalist God-fearing adults who go to church on Sunday and vote Republican.
HAPLESS WOMAN (relieved): OK, I’ll take it!
SALESMAN: Great! I’ll wrap it up for you. Oh, by the way, you’ll be needing these Monster cables that cost $5 to make but retail for $80. And will you be getting the useless extended warranty with that?
If you’re a woman and you bought a DVD player for your husband, just try to look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t have that conversation with the salesman. But what solution is there? You don’t want to learn about complex and confusing technologies that you don’t care about just so you can buy a damned Christmas gift, do you? Hell, you can’t even buy golf clubs without having to answer questions about metal alloys and carbon fibres. So what should you do?
Solution: Find gifts which appeal to his base male desires, but which you can still understand.
“But I don’t know what those are!” you might complain. Not to worry, I have some suggestions for you:
Suggestion #1: Gift certificates at an electronics store.
Don’t understand techno-jargon? No problem, that’s what electronics store gift certificates are for! Simply give him the gift certificate and turn him loose while you go shopping for shoes, feminine hygiene products, and sappy tearjerker movies. Like a trained dog, he will try to make life difficult for the salesman but he will eventually home in on the correct high-tech purchase. Soon after, he will come proudly back to you with his new prize tucked under his arm, panting and smiling proudly like a happy golden retriever who just returned your frisbee. Pat him on the head and smile. Don’t worry if this seems insulting and condescending; trust me when I say that when we men have just purchased a cool new electronic toy, we don’t care.
Suggestion #2: Revealing lingerie.
Watch your husband’s face very carefully as he opens the box and discovers revealing lingerie inside. If his expression is one of profound relief and he says “How did you know?”, then you have just discovered that your husband is a cross-dresser (or he’s been possessed by the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover). Either way, good luck in therapy.
But if he looks confused, he’s perfectly normal. That’s where you will explain that it’s not for him to wear; it’s for you to wear, as a gift to him. Explain to him that you got the sluttiest lingerie you could find, and that you’re tired of being a good girl. You want him to take you upstairs and treat you like a very naughty girl, just like the women in his porn videos. Important note: if you have not screened his porno before making this offer, you might be in for some surprises. Make sure that you’ve been doing yoga to increase your joint flexibility, and I hope you gave yourself an enema earlier that day. Also make sure you have plenty of lube on hand, and possibly wrist and ankle cuffs too (most adult novelty stores sell soft padded cuffs).
Suggestion #3: Guy movies.
This is an easy one. Simply check out his current movie selection (write down the titles if you must), then march out to the video store and ask a male clerk to suggest guy movies he doesn’t already have. Since the clerk really has no particular incentive to make you buy one movie over another, you’ll probably get a decent recommendation. Remember: we men have fairly simple tastes in movies. A good guy movie must have 2 key ingredients:
- Men punching, kicking, stabbing, chainsawing, or shooting each other.
- Things blowing up real good.
Gratuitous female nudity is appreciated but not strictly necessary. The ratio of action to talk should be high. And good special effects can make any guy movie acceptable to him for at least one viewing, even if it’s so abysmally stupid that he never watches it again.
Suggestion #4: A freezer full of meat.
Very few things say “I love you” to a man better than his wife buying him a huge pile of meat products. Just try to avoid running down the PETA protesters in your SUV when you’re pulling out of the local butcher’s parking lot. While it would be amusing for a while, I have heard that womens’ prisons aren’t quite as enjoyable in real-life as they are in lesbian porn.
Suggestion #5: A new barbecue.
This ties in closely with the previous suggestion. What could possibly be more manly than having a freezer full of meat and barbecuing it in the backyard on a brand new grill? Not much, that’s for sure (although I should point out that I take no responsibility for long-term health consequences). And the features on a backyard barbecue are simple enough that estrogen-induced tech-talk narcolepsy should not be a problem in the store.
Suggestion #6: A giant Lego kit.
We men try to put on a good show of this meaningless concept called “maturity” (a nice term for the adult social convention of being polite even when you feel like punching the other guy in the mouth). However, the fact remains that we’re still just little boys in grown-up bodies. And no matter how old we get, Lego is still cool. Especially those huge kits, like the big Lego Man O’ War kit, or the battleship, or the tank, or the licensed Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer kit. These kits can set you back more money than you’d expect, but there’s something compelling about the exercise of sitting down with 50 pounds of Lego and an instruction sheet in order to construct something big. Preferably something with guns on it.
Interestingly enough, complex Lego kits are basically the only kind of product which you can buy where a man will unhesitatingly read the instructions before he starts.
Suggestion #7: Useless accessories for his office.
These toys are an ego stroke for men. Ridiculously ornate $200 fountain pens, polished marble pen holders with professional athlete autographs engraved on them, gold-plated monogrammed day planners, and similarly useless and outlandishly overpriced garbage says to your husband: “I know you have a really important job. In fact, I believe you must be sooo important that you’re one of those preening assholes who sits around all day in his business suit trying to impress people with pointless ostentatious displays of discretionary spending.”
Suggestion #8: Hardcore pornography.
Don’t think any of those other gifts will impress him? OK, I’ve saved the best for last. You see, porno is the gift that keeps on giving. Night after night, you can trust me when I say he’ll find a use for it. Oh sure, you ladies have tried giving out conventional gifts such as argyle socks, cardigan sweaters, and those cute little neckties with pictures of NASCAR racers on them, but wait till you see his eyes light up when you give him a shiny new copy of “Gangbang Girl 14” on DVD! This is the perfect gift for the man in your life, and not just because he can masturbate to it (although he will).
You see, the best part is that this gift also gives him tacit approval for the collection of hardcore porn he already has (you know, the tapes and DVDs he’s got buried in the back of the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet in his study room, right behind the “Income Taxes” folder). By giving him hardcore pornography, you’re giving him a wink and a nod and saying “I know you’re a depraved sexual degenerate, but don’t worry. That’s just fine with me.” Remember: a strong marriage is all about communication and acceptance. There, doesn’t that sound more convincing?
“OK Mike, I should get porn for my husband. But what porno should I get?” you may ask. Well, let me give you a rundown on porn selection tips. First, look at the box. If the box is in the “couples porn” section of the store and describes an intriguing storyline on the back, this means that you might enjoy watching it. Unfortunately, it also means that he will either fall asleep or fast-forward through most of it in frustration. Good porn for men will generally have some of the following terms brightly emblazoned on the cover: “sluts”, “whores”, “gangbang”, “anal”, “DP”, and/or “asses”. If it has a story, it should ideally be a really stupid story. But avoid any title whose box cover art looks cheap (in porn, you really can tell a book by its cover), or where the woman on the cover is not particularly attractive, or which says “4 HOURS” on it (because the “4 HOUR” videos always go for the quantity over quality approach). Also avoid any titles which say “Max Hardcore”, “ATM”, “A2M”, or “Bukkake” (trust me, you don’t want to know), as well as the entire Fetish section of the store. Sometimes you should look at the production company’s name. Anabolic, Red Light District, Hustler, and Elegant Angel are the big players, while Metro is widely known to suck shit. More couples-oriented but still acceptably raunchy films can be had from Marc Dorcel Productions. And get several movies just to be safe: porn purchasing is based on the law of averages. If you buy enough porn, sooner or later you’ll accidentally buy something that wasn’t directed by a moron.
Some women respond to this suggestion by indignantly saying that their husbands don’t watch porno. To them I can only laugh in their faces and say this: “your husband is a liar and you are a fool”.
And there you have it! Mike’s helpful tips for women who are in need of Christmas shopping advice. Good luck, ladies!