Mixed Signals

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Many thousands of columns have been published over the years by caring writers filled with wonderful suggestions of what to buy our loved ones as we celebrate whatever festive occasions we celebrate, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or your Uncle Harry getting out of prison. Granted they don’t always pan out and the marriage, friendship with benefits, and occasional one-night stands suffer; but as the Leafs say, ‘We can’t win them all, but once in a while would be nice’. What you never see is articles explaining how one should act when the gifts we receive fail to live up to our expectations.

The engagement ring that never came of course has to be right up there especially after the news the rabbit died, (You have to be old to understand that one) the announcement that your son, Rufus, is finally leaving home at the tender age of 46, the glorious news that your daughter’s cell phone was run over by a snowplow, are all examples of things we pray for regularly. Those requests have been relegated to the heavenly junk file along with the countless pleas for the Lord to punish Doug Ford for getting us into a peeing match with the teachers. But I am not talking about any of those holiday blessings.

The subject of today’s sermon is what do we say and perhaps more important, do, when we open a box clearly marked, ‘Top ‘o the Line Lenovo Laptop with automatic transmission and ABS brakes’ and it turns out to be red thermal underwear with button trap-door two sizes too small.

Unfortunately, this column may come too late for many losers out there. Sadly dozens of poor souls reading this epistle have already made complete asses of themselves and are now living at a motel or confined to the basement until they apologize or make amends. Nevertheless we shall soldier on.

Perhaps if I explain how we handle these minor disappointments on Woodside Drive, you will see how civilized couples behave during the times that try men’s souls, rather than repeat your disgraceful display last year when you tossed the cat through the living room window. Granted I can see why the bag of disposable razors you received would be upsetting when you had gone to the trouble of pasting magazine ads of the new Remington Titanium Shaving System all over the bathroom mirror.

For demonstration purposes only, let us pretend, sir, you have been hinting that a new set of golf clubs complete with bag and solar-powered mini-fridge would make an ideal Christmas gift for a sports enthusiast like yourself. When you open your gift, not only do you not find the aforementioned clubs and accessories, you have in your hot little hand three dirty golf balls not only used, but badly scarred with red stripes on them. To the avid sportsman that is a sure sign that not only are they not PGA Approved, but your wife has stolen them from a local driving range. What does one do in that situation and still end up married?

When that very thing happened to me last year I remained calm – at least outwardly, although there was a sinking feeling in my stomach not unlike the time I swallowed the tadpole. First I thanked my thoughtful wife profusely, whimpered a little, then tried to flush myself down the toilet. Somehow Mary sensed the gift she spent several minutes selecting was not quite what I wanted and started to sob uncontrollably. By this time I began to feel that I might have overreacted. I dried my hair and then assured her that my fondest wish was to appear on a golf course with striped balls.

Apologies accepted; she smiled sweetly and reached for her gift I had painstakingly wrapped in a bag courtesy of the LCBO.

In my defence, I should explain I am not good at deciphering hidden messages. “Wouldn’t it be nice to go south for Christmas?” I interpreted as, “Do you want to go to Barrie and see who is dancing this afternoon at Crossovers?” Admittedly I blew that one. But I picked up right away on her latest hint “Diamonds are Forever” or at least I thought I had.

The cat and I are enjoying this fine James Bond movie – although the reception is a little snowy and it must be 30 below out here in our neighbour’s garden shed.

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