Sunday, June 21, 2009


Published June 21, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! I hope you’ve had a day filled with love, appreciation, family togetherness, and MAN GIFTS.

When I say MAN GIFTS, there’s a very specific voice I want you to hear in your mind. It’s definitely a MAN VOICE. I’ve been trying to approximate it all week in preparation for this column, much to the amusement of my husband. You’ve heard it before. “MONDAY! MONDAY! MONDAY! MONSTER TRUCK RALLY!” Only this time, it’s saying, “SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! FATHER’S DAY AND TIME FOR MAN GIFTS!”

MAN GIFTS come in two varieties. First, you have the big, loud, and scary MAN GIFTS which are highly likely to sever a limb or two if used improperly or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the misplaced manly ego. The other variety is made up of the small, sleek, and shiny gifts that are usually covered in buttons and ports and are often linked to satellites. While not deadly in and of themselves, these gifts can prove fatal to the unfortunate man who thinks owning a GPS system is equivalent to being James Bond.

Since it’s Father’s Day, I’ve got MAN GIFTS on the brain. This is not because I bought my husband a MAN GIFT for Father’s Day. It’s because advertisers across the country think I should have bought him a MAN GIFT for Father’s Day. “What better way to show Dad you care than with a Manford 72 Bit Power Drill with Flamethrower Attachment and GPS Locater?”

I don’t really mind advertisers. I know they’re real people with families and bills to pay. Their livelihood depends on whether or not they can make the average consumer think he’ll bring shame and misfortune upon his family if he doesn’t buy the product of the moment. If the combination remote control/garage door opener/nose hair trimmer with GPS locater the marketer is promoting doesn’t sell, little Timmy will have to miss soccer camp this year. I feel for Timmy. I do.

I just wonder how much of American consumerism is the product of a highly organized “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation. Do men really want MAN GIFTS or are they conditioned to want MAN GIFTS because advertisers say they should want MAN GIFTS? Would you want to be the lone man on the block saying, “Nah, I just don’t think I need the Gadgetron 3000. It’s not practical. I’d much rather have a hand knitted tea cozy.”

When I ran the previous line past my husband, he just shrugged and asked me what a tea cozy was. “Aha!” I shouted in triumph, “You see how deep it runs? You pretend to not know what a tea cozy is because men aren’t supposed to know what tea cozies are! The emperor’s clothes are very fine, aren’t they?” He stared at me patiently until I gave in and explained the concept of a hand knitted cover for a teapot and then harrumphed myself to sleep.

I’m sure the men among my readership (both of you! Hi guys!) will say that there are equivalent Woman Gifts (think the soothing singing voice behind “Every kiss begins with Kay”) that rival the cost and impracticality of MAN GIFTS. I don’t disagree. Advertisers push jewelry, cosmetics, and trips to the day spa on women-centered holidays. The difference is that women need and deserve such treatment simply for being who they are.

I don’t know why the emperor is naked, but the empress is looking fabulous in that gown!