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The Insensitive Man's Holiday Gift Guide

Listen up, guys: Here's how not to look like a moron

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You're a man. This is not a good thing.

On the scales of evolution, you own a slight cognitive advantage over the red-eyed tree frog, but miserably trail most varieties of latex paint. You can't spell "sensitivity," much less show it. If there were a School of Empathy, you would be placed in the disabled kids' class. That's because you believe feelings are for guys who play the tambourine in emo bands. Or maybe Hugh Grant.

This presents a problem during the holiday season. For reasons unknown, it's the time of year men are supposed to pretend they care about others. Remember that Thursday in late November when you don't have to work? It's not called The Day When You're Forced to Watch the Detroit Lions but at Least Your Woman Makes Turkey. It's called Thanksgiving.

And Christmas? It's supposed to be a celebration of Jesus' birthday. Or when Jesus went shopping. It's a little unclear. But it's definitely not the day reserved for you and your uncle to drink too much and argue about motor oil.

Alas, the holidays are a time when you're supposed to be thankful and thoughtful, reaching out to loved ones with tenderness and affection. In other words, you can't behave like a man. Which presents a rather daunting challenge when it comes to gift buying.

Yeah, you remember last year. You thought you had a major score with that bracelet you got your wife/girlfriend/significant other. It was sure to buy you diplomatic immunity for the many acts of neglect and insensitivity you would commit over the next 12 months.

Then came Christmas morn. Your beloved's smile turned to menace when she carefully examined said bracelet. It was inscribed to Leslie. Her name is Charleene. When you explained that you bought it for $13 at a pawnshop to preserve the familial treasury, she failed to appreciate your selflessness. So she beat you with a pack of Jimmy Dean sausages. You still have the scars.

That's why the Scene commissioned a panel of leading scientists to guide you through this gift-giving season. It won't elevate your woman's love. That's a little much to ask. But if it protects you from a beating by sausage, consider this Christmas a major victory. You can thank us by sending whiskey and unmarked currency.

1. Avoid household appliances.

Men are naturally attracted to these. They're large. They're shiny. They have engines. But women don't tend to see appliances as an expression of love — unless they're German. They'll think you consider them unpaid kitchen help. Your true feelings will be exposed.

If you insist on purchasing something with a motor, we suggest an air compressor. This can be rationalized as something for the kids: Honey, what if their bike tires get flat? But by all means avoid nail guns. You don't want the TV gunned down in the third quarter of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, do you?

2. Avoid power tools.

Chances are your sweetheart never whispered in a moment of tenderness, "Dear, if you really love me, you'd buy me that DeWalt 18-Volt Cordless High Torque Impact Wrench I've been wanting." That's because women are weird that way. They don't understand the joys of hammering, wrenching, puncturing and blowtorching stuff. Chalk it up to biological deficiencies.

Which means if you thoughtfully purchase her something really nice—say, a radial arm saw—expect stiff punitive damages. Like having your liquor cabinet donated to the Salvation Army.

3. Resist the old "bait & switch."

Men are powerless against the Bait & Switch Strategy. You're at Wal-Mart. You see an Albert Haynesworth jersey, a pair of hunting overalls in just your size. You know your woman won't score them for you. At this very moment, she's at Old Navy buying a sweater that will make you look like a junior bond trader from Goldman Sachs. So you buy the jersey and the hunting pants for her, knowing they won't fit. You'll get 'em by default.

But this returns us to our essential predicament: We're men. We may be capable of outsmarting Sarah Palin and bathroom fixtures, but not the superior species known as Woman. Your beloved will swiftly detect your maneuver. She will raise the toaster in the threatening manner. And when you launch your defense with an opening salvo of, "Sweetheart, I always thought you looked like Demi Moore in size 42 camouflage pants," be prepared to duck. Your only hope at this point is to emerge with flesh wounds and non-fatal blood loss.

4. Buy lots of worthless crap.

Though science indicates women are worthier creatures in every way, they do possess a weak flank. It's called a fondness for worthless crap. We're not talking about throw pillows or those wall-mounted rubber fish that sing Talking Heads songs. We're talking about jewelry, opera tickets, imported cheeses from Little Rock.

The goal is to give them worthless junk they'd never buy on their own, and to do so in volume. For reasons uncharted, they will translate this into love. The hottest gift this Christmas season is the 32-pack of framed inspirational sayings set on pictures of sunsets and beaches, suitable for bathroom mounting. Get a load of this deep talk:

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are only tiny matters...compared to what lies within us."

So what if it doesn't make a helluva lotta sense? What lies before me now is lunch. Women adore deep sayings. Throw these words atop a picture of a mallard in flight, and your sweetheart's going to think you're Dr. Phil, only uglier.

She will love you with the might of a Panzer division. She will see you as the man she's always desired, despite your love handles. And best of all, she will make you pork chops. Which is really all you wanted in the first place.


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