Jun 15

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Dave’s Fireside Chats


Friends, i would like to start this fireside chat by giving a shout out to the originator of the fireside chats, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who used his fireside chats as a positive shot in the arm for all his peeps during the Great Depression.  One of his most famous quotes from this time was “We have nothing to feah but feah itself”.  (Southern translation:  “aint skeert”.)  This was an incredible statement to make, due to the fact that no one ever married to a woman would dare make such a statement.  All the more ironic that Franklin Roosevelt was:  a) married, and b) married to Eleanor “Great Personality” Roosevelt, best known for being the model of the cow on the Elmer’s Glue bottle.  A man needs other outlets when he is so fearful of his wife’s “great personality”.  Needless to say, Franklin had a very impressive stamp collection.

Anyway, a random newlywed male may ask:  “How could I fear the love of my life, the one that puts the honey in my moon?”  That’s because this random newlywed male has not experienced enough episodes of what older men only speak of in hushed tones:  the birthday season.  This is the most dangerous time of the year for a man.  And when you couple it with the complications of the “lunar” cycle, it can be a perfect storm of misery………..if you don’t have enough life experience, and a stamp collection.

Therefore, since these chats are instructional as well as motivational, I offer “David’s Tips on Female Birthday Gift Buying”.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

1.  Your wife’s birthday typically consists of 3 components:  an endearing card, a thoughtful gift, and a get-together (or shindig if you live in lower Alabama).  Actually, there are two misnomers here.  The birthday is more akin to a birthweek, and there will be multiple get-togethers.  There will be the after church dinner with friends, the “gals at work” luncheon, the luncheon with her bffs from high school, the get together with her parents and siblings, the small party with just the hubby and the kids, and the intimate birthday dinner with the hubby (when she expects the endearing card and the thoughtful gift).  No way you can cram all that into one day.  It will need to be spread out over a week or two.

2.  In today’s thoughtless culture, the card is sometimes omitted from the birthday, and many women will swear that they don’t value cards anyway.  It would be a mistake for a husband to make that assumption.  Most older, wiser men know that “you don’t have to” really means “you better dang well”.  Also, an excellent card is often a useful tool to soften the blow of the dumb gift you will eventually buy.  A few tips for card buying:  1)  Don’t buy one where the verses rhyme – it has the faint whiff of mocking insincerity.  (Women can smell insincerity a mile away.)  2)  Don’t buy one where the basic theme is “Life with me sucks, but I’m so relieved that you love me anyway” (believe me, she is aware of this daily).     3)  Flip the card over and look at the price – if its below 3.99, don’t buy it.  She will swear up and down that you spent way too much on the 6.99 card, but when you respond that you HAD to pick that card because it had just the RIGHT words for HER, you will be in high cotton, domestically speaking.

There are six basic types of birthday gifts:  flowers, jewelry, thoughtful trinkets, electronics, dinner, and the gift of time (yeah, you read that right).

1)  Flowers are always risky as a stand alone gift.  Like the rhyming card, they have the whiff of mocking insincerity.  I could see them as a stand alone gift if you picked them yourself from the field beside her childhood home, or from the florist beside the restaurant where you had your first date.  But we all know that you aren’t going to do that.  More than likely, you will buy them on the afternoon of her birthday at the grocery store on the way home.  Flowers, like a card, can buffer a dumb gift if you plan them right.  And I don’t care if you are a botanist or not, in the female world dandelions, queen anne’s lace, daylilies, and those little white blowey things are not considered flowers.

2)  Jewelry is usually a home run, unless you have one of those wives that label themselves as “practically-minded” (whatever that means).  And if you have another relative that happens to be one of those jewelry representatives, you can make 2 women happy in one day.  The trick with jewelry is not to give it in consecutive years.  If you give it too many years in a row, her “mocking insincerity” meter will start picking up readings.  She will come to regard the precious gemstones as insincere, precious gemstones, and no one wants that (except the jewelry store).

3)  Thoughtful trinkets – gosh, where to begin?  For the “practically-minded” gal, who doesn’t even want jewelry, she may use thoughtful trinkets for target practice.  Have you ever noticed that, every time your “practically minded” wife cleans house, that one of her least favorite trinkets “accidentally” bites the dust?  Not a coincidence, my friend.  (While dusting one day, my wife “accidentally” decapitated two of those Willow Tree people on her dresser.  It looked like the aftermath of the French Revolution in our bedroom.)  Examples of thoughtful trinkets include:  ceramic angels, coffee mugs that say “world’s best wife”, wind chimes, and doormats that say “one young chick and one old crow live here”.  Thoughtful trinkets can be used a comedic device, a warmup to the actual gift, where your wife laughs merrily for a few seconds and then puts the trinket down to unwrap the real gift.  (And there better be a real gift.)

4)  Electronics are an emerging market for women – they’re not just for beer swillin’, football watchin’ guys anymore.  TVs and DVD players which you could potentially use yourself and ignore your woman – very bad.  Kindles, cell phones, and ipods with which she can ignore you – very nice.

5)  Dinners are dangerous as stand alone birthday gifts, unless the restaurant holds a tremendous sentimental value for your wife and has the phrase “3 star michelin” behind it (no, those aren’t tires).  As a man, never act like you are enjoying a birthday dinner too much.  She will think you just went out with her for the food.  And remember, at dinner, you will be required to make eye contact from time to time.

6)  The gift of time.  Yeah, I know, this is the unknown variable of the algebraic equation that makes up the life of men.  Usually, the gift of time only comes up in the early years of a marriage, when she still wants to spend some time with you, or in the later years of a marriage, when she is bored with 1,2,3,4, and 5.  The term “quality time” will be introduced into your married life at some point, and by “quality time” women mean “different from normal time”.  Your “normal time” money is no good at the “Bank of Quality Time”.  Talking about bills, kids, or the job doesn’t even get you a lollipop at the “Bank of Quality Time”.  Examples of quality time include (I’m told):  feeding squirrels in the park, window shopping for dining room suites, watching a black and white movie, and paddle boating.  If you’re not sure, just think of an activity that is the exact opposite of what you would like to do, and that would probably be quality time.  Use extreme caution.  A sourpuss face will negate your quality time credits, but if you act like you enjoy it too much, it will become “yall’s new thing” and you will be stuck doing it for the rest of your life.

Hope this helps.  It it didn’t help, I really don’t care.  I’m too busy at the moment gluing my wife’s Willow Tree people back together.

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