I haven’t the slightest clue.
For full effect download “Nature Of The Experiment” by Tokyo Police Club and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. Don’t know what that song is, well neither do I. It just sounded like a good fit for the confusion I’m dealing with as I stare at a never-ending aisle full of dolls and robots.
It’s been almost a decade now since the roles were reversed and I was the recipient of awkward gifts from my Uncles, and for the life of me I can’t remember a solid birthday present received from any one of them. In fact, the only present that I can remember getting from any of my Uncles was when one of them asked me to come and get a “surprise” from his car. As I opened the trunk, I was greeted with two items that I couldn’t understand.
Crazy Uncle: “So you like em?”
Ten-year old Swamp Thing: “Umm…What are they?”
Crazy Uncle: “They’re ski poles you big lush. Come on now, these are some great things.”
Ten-year old Swamp Thing: “Ski poles? Oh, I see now. How come they’re taller than me? And are there any skis, helmets, a coat, mittens, or anything else to go along with them?”
Crazy Uncle: “Nope, just the poles. Happy Birthday, buddy!”
Dad: “What do you say to your Uncle?
Ten-year old Swamp Thing: “Uh…thanks for re-gifting?”
Flash back to my current self staring blankly down the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, dazed and confused at what a kid his age would want, or need for full enjoyment. Maybe I could get him a remote control helicopter? Nah, those things are stupid. You never learn how to control them and they just fly in circles for about three seconds. What about a Miley Cyrus t-shirt, would he like that? Wait, that wouldn’t be good. He probably thinks girls still have cooties, and when did I ever wear a t-shirt with a popular teenage girl singer on it? Yeah, never.
Kids these days are so hard to please. It’s like you give them one heartfelt gift, and they give you a look of disgust, reminding themselves to never remind this lunatic when the celebration of their origin is. See, back in my day we only had… Wait, did I just say the phrase ‘back in my day’? Am I getting to the point of no return? The moment where my hair will start falling out and I’ll be wearing flannel pants held up with suspenders? The point where I’ll only be talking about tax returns and unsubsidized mortgages? Am I getting…old?
Lord have mercy on my ever-dilating mental calendar that’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Down the aisle a redneck wannabe grandmother in a blue vest and nametag is giving me the evil eye for standing in the same spot holding a Nerf dart gun in one hand and a mini cardboard basketball hoop in the other, weighing the options in my mind as to which would be the better present, and what would make him like me more.
Inner Swamp Thing Voice: “If I give him the basketball hoop, then he thinks that I want to play sports with him more, and he’ll like me for that. But if I give him the nerf gun, he may like me even better because I’m on his side for thinking his sister is a weirdo, and have now supplied him with ammunition to silence her. Which one is better?!”
I’ve been at an impasse in the Wal-mart in Tooele for almost half an hour now debating what’s the best gift to give. And honestly, in Tooele, that’s probably the best form of recreation available for me with a couple of hours to kill out here. You know now that I think about it, if I’m having a hard time figuring out what kind of meaningless present to buy my nephew, how daunting of an obstacle will I be facing if I have to decide my own child’s name, or school, or location to live?
A rush of fear/urine rolls down the bottom of my left pant leg as I walk out of Wal-Mart with the Nerf gun in hand. I’m going to be an awful parent.