Life-saving words

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 8, 2003

(Note: As a public service to the male readers of this column, I am republishing these words of wisdom that appeared in this exact space on Dec. 12 of last year. I urge all men to follow these guidelines in order to survive the pain inflicted by the most dangerous creature on Earth – woman!)

Gentlemen, start your engines!

The time is upon us for the second favorite &uot;Chick Day&uot; of the year – Christmas (Valentine’s Day stands atop a woman’s list as the most preferred). For those of us who have delayed our Christmas shopping – and that perhaps would be the majority of us because we have better things to do, like watch football – the dreaded hour has arrived for us to crank-up our cars and head for Hades, better known as the mall.

There we will be joined by our brethren, those like us who have waited until the final minute to perform our yearly chore of attempting to please our wives/girlfriends by selecting the perfect gift. Note: There is actually nothing that qualifies as a perfect gift. Whatever you do choose, whether it is the most expensive diamond in the world, the chances are great that your significant other will be standing in the return line on Dec. 26.

The following is the guy’s guide to gift giving. Use this advice in order to dodge the &uot;doghouse&uot; on Christmas morning and, please, keep this information as secret as that &uot;Men Rule&uot; t-shirt you keep hidden in the trunk of the car and wear only on poker nights.

Rule #1: Never, ever fall for the line, &uot;I don’t really need anything for Christmas. I have everything I need.&uot;

Men, this is the biggest trap women will lay, and they don’t even have to bait it with a six-pack and a bag of pork rinds. They’re just testing your true feelings for them. If you really love your woman, then you’ll lavish her with gifts, no matter how much she protests. Note: if you fall for the &uot;I don’t need anything line&uot;, you’ll get out of the doghouse just about the time the groundhog peeks out to see how much longer winter will last.

Rule #2: Be sure to purchase Christmas gifts for your wife’s/girlfriend’s most dearest and closest friends. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these gifts; it’s the thought that counts. These ladies could prove to be your very best friends, especially when it comes to the advice they’re giving your loved one when you’re not around. You’d much rather have them in your corner rather than advising your other half to dump you and run off with a rich doctor.

Rule #3: If you are at a complete loss when it comes to selecting that perfect gift, buy anything that’s expensive and be sure to save the receipt. At least when she returns the gift on Dec. 26, she can fondly stare at the exorbitant amount of money you spent on her and sigh, &uot;Gee, he must really love me.&uot;

Rule #4: Gift certificates are a big no-no. Nothing says &uot;I could care less about you&uot; than buying your gal a gift certificate, no matter how much that little piece of cold plastic is worth. If you do choose to stoop to this level, be sure to save the receipt; at least you’ll have something quick and handy to write your will on.

Rule #5: Never buy your woman anything that she has labor over – pots, pans, vacuum cleaners, etc. While the notion of delicious food in a clean home sounds good to a man, it sends the exact opposite message to your gal. She’s reading in-between the lines and thinking that all you want from her is to cook and clean.

Rule #6: If you purchase a gift for your gal, have it wrapped immediately and then hide it where she’ll never find it – right next to the vacuum cleaner. Do not, I repeat, do not place the wrapped gift under the Christmas tree until the morning of Dec. 25. If you put it out too early, she will instinctively pick it up, shake it twice and immediately tell you precisely what’s inside the box – even if it’s the exact same glove worn by Al Downing on the night of April 8, 1974 when he served-up the record-setting 715th career homerun to slugger Henry Aaron.

Rule #7: Tickets to a dinner play are nice; tickets to the Mud Sling down at Billy Bob’s Swamp Pit are not.

Rule #8: Fancy perfume always makes for a nice gift. Ask the buxom young clerk at the perfume counter to place some of your selection on her neck and move in close for a whiff (mind you, this ploy is solely used for proof that the product does indeed smell just right for the price you’re paying; it’s not intended for a cheap thrill.) Note: make sure none of your gal’s closest friends are within two area codes of your shopping location when using this scenario.

As a final public service, I advise all men not to fall to your knees and begin crying like a bunch of snotty-nosed babies when the thought of going to the mall crosses your mind. As you battle for the premier parking space, remember that fear is simply a part of the human equation – pre-historic men feared being eaten by giant beasts and now we fear being devoured by the mobs at the mall.

Be a man – suck in your gut, hitch-up your pants, take a deep breath and walk boldly into the department store. But please, don’t loiter in the lingerie section, not unless you’re having the perfume clerk model a few items so you can visualize how they would look on your gal.

Happy Shopping!