At a recent lunch date with one of my BFF’s, we started discussing the potential of receiving Homer Simpson gifts for Christmas. In my family, we call certain gifts that name in honor of the episode where Homer gave Marge a bowling ball. Not because she was a bowler, but because he was.
Homer gifts are the gifts that are either incredibly practical and boring (like white athletic socks or pepper spray), or are gifts that men give that are really for themselves (like the bowling ball example, or sexy lingerie for us to wear for them) or are unwelcome and stereotypically gender-specific domestic gifts like an iron and ironing board. We arrived on this topic because my girlfriend said she’s fairly certain that she’s about to receive new cookware for Christmas.
Now, cookware can go either way. I enjoy cooking and baking, so for me, cookware is a viable gift. I view cookware like a man would view a fun new tool. But for some Real Women, cookware would be a not-so-appropriate, less than desirable gift. A lump of coal would be just as effective.
I admitted to my girlfriend that I almost asked my husband for a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Vacuum cleaners reside near the top of not-cool Homer gifts. But I really do want a new one. My old beast is missing a wheel, so when I vacuum, I feel as if I’m mowing on a hill, where one side of my path comes out cleaner than the other…the power cord no longer retracts correctly, so I’m doing that odd move of holding the retractor lever down while manually attempting to push the cord back into the body of the beast (I know many of you out there have done this exact same thing). It smells funny when I use it, no matter how many times now we’ve cleaned out the filter and changed the bag. On top of all that, it just doesn’t suck well anymore. And this is the one thing in life we truly do want to have that really sucks.
So do I want and need a new vacuum? Yes. Do I want one that is all wrapped up and waiting for me under the Christmas tree? No. How depressing would THAT be?
It is no wonder that the men in our lives sometimes get confused with the gift-giving process. I’m sure they hear us talk about needing new appliances and tools… and yet the smart men are terrified to give them to us as gifts. How can we expect them to understand, when they really do get excited by boring things like new wallets, ties, and wrenches? And certainly for them, the idea of shopping for appliances is far more interesting than venturing into a clothing or jewelry store. All they need to remember is that if the gift will mean additional work for us, or makes us look like we do all the domestic “typical girl” manual labor in the house, then stay far away from it. Instead, offer to go with us to shop for these items on a non-holiday.
My husband recently shared with me a post by one female friend of his on FaceBook. She had indicated that she truly didn’t want any gifts for Christmas — she just wanted peace, and she’d be annoyed with her husband if he bought anything for her. I instantly felt badly for her husband. Because he is now damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. He now has to not just worry about getting the wrong kind of gift, but has the added struggle of whether or not to get her anything at all.
Yes, men, I will admit here and now that we Real Women can be confusing, complex creatures. So here’s one rule you can live by: No matter how much we may talk about needing new practical items, don’t wrap them up in a bow for us. Leave that dangerous territory to Homer Simpson.