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Damn The Torpedoes

Damn the Torpedoes by Rob Holbert

By Rob Holbert

DECEMBER 12, 2012



A Tag-Away-and-blender-filled Christmas

I’ll admit it probably isn’t easy buying me a Christmas gift. In fact, at some point it becomes tough to buy for just about any man. 

Most of us could use clothes, but generally our mental visions of ourselves don’t match up to the old man ties or vee-neck sweaters we get. After that, most of our unfulfilled wants and desires are either too expensive or are on photo shoots for Sports Illustrated. In either case, they’re probably not going to wind up under the tree. 

Writing this two weeks before Christmas I really have no idea what I’d buy for myself. I have a vague notion I’d like some pants, but the vanity sizing has made it an epic program just to figure out what size you are any more. Chances are if someone bought me pants I’d just have to take them back. So essentially I’d be getting a trip to a crowded department store. Good times. 

I became convinced the other day after watching an infomercial that I needed and desperately wanted a hopped-up food processor called a Ninja. (By the way, how many products are now named after Ninjas or Yetis? It’s out of control.) When I mentioned this to my wife, she started grilling me about what I would do with this fancy Ninja. "You gonna drink high-protein juices instead of eating steak?” Well, no. "You gonna make healthy smoothies for dinner?” Well, no. 

At the end of the interrogation it became clear all I really wanted the Ninja for was to make ice cream in 20 seconds and to turn ice into snow to make margaritas. Guess I didn’t really want it that much after all. 

The only other thing that has really caught my eye lately is a product called Tag Away, which is an "all-natural” skin tag remover. I don’t have skin tags, nor do I even know anyone with skin tags, but for some reason the product is intriguing. I just like to imagine someone opening a bottle of it Christmas morning. Then again, I probably wouldn’t want to be the one opening a bottle of Tag Away. It would probably hurt my feelings. 

As we age, it’s important to make it easier to shop for one another. Each year my parents and siblings and our families pick names so we don’t have to give each person a cheap gift, the theory being if we spend $50 - $75 on a nicer gift, we’ll at least get one thing we want instead of 20 bottles of Tag Away. This is a practical thing to do when you have a large extended family and are relatively skin tag free. 

I grew up the oldest of five kids, so buying six presents was always tough, especially when you’re only banking about $20 a week mowing lawns. Some of us put more effort into it than others, though. My youngest brother was notorious for always giving the rest of us really cheap gifts while we at least made some kind of effort on his behalf. 

One Christmas morning I opened my gift from him and it turned out to be a cassette tape of "Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits — Volume 2.” It’s the Volume 2 part that’s the kicker in this tale of Christmas woe. 

While I’ve never been a massive Billy Joel fan, I’m sure I would have enjoyed his Volume 1 greatest hits that contain songs like "Piano Man,” "She’s Always a Woman” and "Captain Jack.” Such a song collection would have probably run in the $10-$12 range in the mid-‘80s. 

Volume 2, while containing a couple of good songs, was mostly comprised of dogs like "Pressure,” "Allentown” and the always horrific "Uptown Girl.” While doing my own shopping at the mall, I had spied BJ’s Volume 2 in the "dollar bin” outside the Record Bar. In fact, it seemed about half the tapes in the bin were Volume 2. So not only had my brother bought me Billy Joel’s crappiest songs, he only spent a buck doing it. 

I busted him. "You got this out of the dollar bin!” I said. It may be the thought that counts, but really how much thought goes into a dollar bin Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits — Volume 2? He tried to protest that he’d paid full price, but my other brothers had seen the dollar bin as well. He finally flippantly fell back on "I thought you really like Billy Joel.” He’s never lived down the dollar bin Christmas and frankly the story is worth far more than even a Night Ranger tape would have been back then. 

This year I have my brother Brian to buy for and he’s done it the right way and made it easy. His lovely wife already sent me a link to purchase him a pair of the same ridiculous K-Swiss tennis shoes he’s been wearing since 1982. He’s on the 50th pair and I’m pretty certain he’s the only person in America still wearing that particular model made popular at the same time Molly Ringwald was a star. 

I like to imagine the K-Swiss people in a meeting with a U.S. map showing sales of their Classic Men’s Sneaker. Every place shows negative numbers for the sales except in St. Augustine, Fla. where he lives. "We’re still holding strong in Florida, Chief!” some underling pipes up as the boss grimaces. 

And so sales of the Classic Men’s Sneaker will be strong again in a very small demographic area. Gotta say at least the man knows what he likes. 

I wish I could say the same. With Christmas bearing down upon us I know it’s time to come up with something I want, to at least give my wife and other family members a fighting chance of making me happy Christmas morning. 

Despite the obvious fact I don’t need it, I’m still not completely offing the Ninja as a possibility. I bet it could whip Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits — Volume 2 and a bottle of Tag Away into a fantastic Christmas smoothie. 

Merry Christmas and thank you for a great 2012 Lagniappe readers and advertisers!

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What should be Mayor-elect Stimpson's top priority?

Examining the budget.
Evaluating city employees.
Addressing public safety issues.
Improving infrastructure.
Free fish plates.

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