I May Stink When It Comes to Giving Gifts, But My Wife Is No Better

Recently, Meredith Carroll wrote an essay about her husband’s below-average gift-giving skills. Her husband’s cleverly crafted reply is below:

Turning 45 years old is a significant event in a man’s life, right? Such a day might lend itself to a few—wink, wink—special gifts from the birthday boy’s wife, right?

My hopes certainly weren’t that high, as if I expected my wife to surprise me with the keys to a red convertible Mercedes, which I’d steer into the sunset on Saturday afternoon high-speed drives through the mountain roads and city highways, tooting gentle honks at pretty young girls and shunning any notions of a looming mid-life crisis.

No, all I really wanted for my 45th was a wallet, some sunglasses and a magazine subscription. Instead, I was the recipient of a teenage Harlequin-style romance book that happened to bear my name in the title. Oh, how cute. Since my wife saw I “liked” it on Facebook, her brilliant gift-giving instincts led her to buy it on eBay for me.

OK, so it was borderline cute (but if I really want cute, buy me floppy-eared puppy next time). The next gift for my 45th, mind you, was certainly more daring: an iPhone cover that resembled an ’80s-style jam box. OMG! Now I was the 40-something hipster straight outta Brooklyn.

Not to sound like a spoiled-rotten husband, but my wife is always the beaming gift-giver in these exchanges, as if her creative brilliance has made my day. Again.

Yet it’s true, I can’t have it both ways. At least the boombox iPhone cover didn’t make me feel as ancient as I did on my 42nd birthday, one rife with such age-accelerants as pajamas and slippers. All that was missing was a checkerboard and dentures.

To listen to my wife bellyache about my lack of giftmanship, you’d think I’ve showered her with food processors and vacuum cleaners every anniversary, birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Sure, when it comes to giving gifts to The Woman in My Life, I’ve bombed more times that “Spiderman” on Broadway, but at least the explosions are memorable.

That harmonica, aquarium and binoculars I gave her on 32nd birthday? The symbolic trilogy was quite evident, hence I never felt I needed to explain it to her. The harmonica represented the soundtrack of love to our life; the aquarium stood for the depths I would go to keep her happy; and the binoculars reflected the vision of this lifelong romance.

But I digress. Perhaps I should heed my wife’s advice and just quit this trade. Perhaps it’s time to hang up the tape and wrapping paper, cancel my subscription to the Family Dollar catalog and call it a day.

I could go out like The Beatles or The Police, still on top of their game at the end, but having the class and dignity to know when it’s over.

Indeed, quitting this selfless hobby might be just the greatest gift of all. But something tells me when the next holiday or anniversary rolls around, I won’t be able to resist myself—just so I can see that baffled expression on my wife’s face.