Rheta Grimsley Johnson: How 'bout those Catamounts

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson

 

 

Warning: The following column contains sexist comments that might be offensive to just about everyone. 

 

I heard about the cleverest gift ever, and -- imagine this -- it was given from a man to his wife. He presented her with T-shirts for every University of Alabama football opponent for the entire past season, before the season, so she could wear their colors and root for the Tide's opponents. 

 

They are both serious Auburn fans. 

 

Now, I know what you're thinking: "What's a girl going to do with a Florida Atlantic Owls or Western Carolina Catamounts shirt after the season is over?" Or, you might be asking, "What on earth is a Catamount?" If so, you are missing the point. 

 

The astonishing thing about this gift is that it came from a man. Men believe special occasions occur to make their lives miserable. The thoughtful ones actually suffer. They want to please, but don't know how. The entire jewelry industry is based upon this fact. 

 

Women are used to figuring out a "clever alternative," as opposed to spending lots of money. We base our entire existence on giving gifts -- sometimes to people we barely know -- and as a result have to pinch pennies.  

 

As an alternative to serious money, we go one of two ways: Clever is best. Money can't buy it, so that puts us in the catbird seat.  

 

The second option is presentation. With enough French ribbon and sparkling tissue and a truly stunning gift bag, nobody cares what's bundled inside. 

 

Most men, on the other hand -- aforementioned T-shirt husband excepted -- don't do clever. And unless there's free gift-wrapping at the store, they don't do presentation. And parties? Forget about it. 

 

I am in the midst of helping a brother throw his sister a surprise 60th birthday party. His first mistake was planning anything as a surprise. Nobody likes surprise parties. They may say they do after the fact to spare feelings, but they are lying. 

 

For one thing, nobody knows how you are feeling, deep down, about certain people at any given moment. Sure, you were crazy about Sally last year, but that was before she told her book club you don't regularly clean your baseboards and your Burberry raincoat is a knock-off. Sally is history. 

 

Then, imagine Sally all gussied up is at your party, bearing a gift. You have to be nice to her. 

 

When I was 35, friends threw me a surprise birthday party. They planned it on the worst day of my life. Not only had I just subjected my head to a bad permanent, I had a column due and the flu. I was wearing clothes that a homeless person threw into the Goodwill bin. Nobody wants carefully groomed people yelling "Surprise!" or to be the center of attention at such a juncture. 

 

Poor Sis has no idea she's flying into a maelstrom of contrived merriment. Already she must deal with "the Big Six-O," as this birthday is technically known. Now she also must make nice to all of us well-meaning geriatrics. We can't even remember to keep the party a secret. Already there have been slips. 

 

In case anyone's "listening," my next important birthday, I'd settle for two tickets to a Lucinda Williams concert or one of those Catamount T-shirts. No parties, please. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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