I'm tough to buy for, I know that. I'm interested in a lot of things, but I also own a lot of things.
I have a friend I've been exchanging gifts with for the last decade. Twice a year, on birthdays and Christmas, we try to buy each other thoughtful gifts.
We have a pattern that has developed over the years. There's usually a book component, a dvd or Blu-ray component, and a musical component. Some years I give better gifts than I get. Some years I don't.
This has been a challenging year. I haven't spoken much to this friend in the last six months. If we had talked about exchanging gifts, I would've said "how 'bout we don't."
On Friday, my friend presented me with gifts. Damn it! Blaufarb!
So now I'm scrambling. I'm not sure if I should return the unwrapped gifts (dick move, yes?) or admit I was caught by surprise.
The musical component was a vinyl copy of the new Tame Impala album. There was a Criterion Blu-ray of Being John Malkovich. There was also a copy of T.C. Boyle's Wild Child, which we had discussed at length when it appeared on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble. All very nice, very generous and thoughtful.
Sonofabitch. Why had we not talked about this?
It's tough to be thoughtful on a moment's notice. Christmas was still four days away. I went shopping.
The movie component was fairly easy. Knowing this friend, I could either buy a copy of Dark Knight Rises or Moonrise Kingdom. Pretty much anything with "rise" in the title. In the end, I went with the Wes Anderson and kept the receipt. I could have simply purchased a $25 gift card, but what's the fun in that?
The musical component was difficult. I've been giving this friend framed solo albums by the members of Kiss. Gene Simmons? Done. Paul Stanley? Done. I found a Peter Criss a few months ago, but passed on it since I didn't think we would exchange gifts this year. Flash forward to four days before Christmas. I hit a half dozen different shops. No Peter Criss, no Ace Frehley.
I could've chosen another Kiss album, but decided to use this Black Sabbath album as my placeholder. I have plenty of album frames, so that's not a problem.
Two down, one to go. I still needed a book component.
I know this friend well enough to find a good book gift, but that doesn't mean I can just pull one out of my ass. This is why people give other people gift cards. It's much easier to give someone $50 or $100 and let them get themselves whatever they want.
While I was out shopping, I found some interesting possiblities. There was an old Go manual from the 1960's, and a boxed set of Playboy books from 1969.
The gift pack included three different books: More Playboy's Ribald Classics, The Playboy Adviser Revisited, and Playboy's Party Games.
All of them were in pristine, unread condition.
So now it's Christmas Eve day and I need to start wrapping things. I've got the movie and I've got the music, even if it's the wrong music.
I'm still undecided about the books. I don't need the Go manual or the Playboy set, but I kind of want them both. I either need to wrap up one of the books I bought yesterday or pluck another book off my own shelves.
I don't know why this is so difficult, except I do.