Avoiding the “Vague Idea”


crucifixMen are not really equipped for the whole shopping gig. Yes, I know. This is both sexist and promotes a certain stereotype. Sometimes, though, stereotypes linger because they’re true. For example, I’m Irish. I used to drink a lot. Many Irish people drink to excess. Not all, but many. That’s how it became a stereotype. Because it’s true. Perhaps you know a man who is not challenged by a shopping trip. Good for you. He’s a keeper! If you are not, however, involved with the exception to the rule — a man who has the shopping gene — don’t despair. All is not lost. They can be trained. Ultimately, what must be avoided is anything resembling the “vague idea”.

In our early years together my husband was fond of purchasing me jewelry. The problem? I don’t really wear a whole lot of jewelry. Well, at least not the jewelry that he was choosing. In an effort to indulge the obvious pleasure he got from shopping for jewelry, I started to drop hints about jewelry that I might actually like to own. (Enter the “vague idea”.) They were, I thought, fairly straightforward things. I mentioned items such as, a cross pendant, “X” earrings, or a simple gold chain. How could someone screw that up? Fairly easily, as it turns out. The small, elegant, understated cross turned into an elaborate filigreed crucifix that might at one time have belonged to Madonna. For those of you who don’t know, there is a difference between a cross and a crucifix. A cross is a modified “T” shape; a crucifix has a sculpted and bloodied man wearing a crown of thorns affixed to the “T” shape. I like Jesus as much as the next gal, but I don’t want four gruesome inches of his death hanging from my neck. Too flashy and overtly religious. Definitely NOT me.

The “X” earrings? They were large enough to partially obscure my cheekbones and heavy enough to stretch my delicate earlobes. When I returned them I think they put them back on the branding iron from which they had been removed.

A simple gold chain? Try a quadruple herringbone. Cleopatra probably sported something smaller. It gave me a neck ache. I also imagined that it might catch the eye of some ne’er do well who would garrote me while attempting to tear it from my tender neck. Again. Not for me.

Those jewelry store clerks definitely saw my husband coming. He fell, hook, line, and sinker, for the old “bigger is better” adage. And he fell hard.

Obviously I returned all of this craziness. (And made a handsome profit, I might add.) Following the quadruple herringbone disaster (he really could not understand what could possibly be wrong with something so obviously expensive and well-made — and in Italy for crying out loud!), he vowed never to buy me jewelry again. Obviously his inability to select something appropriate was all my fault. He stayed true to his word, though, and steered clear of the jewelry stores when my birthday, Christmas, or Mother’s Day rolled around. I began to receive things like candle snuffers (designed for taper candles, which I do not own a one of), snow boots (bright pink and two sizes too small), scarves (mostly “medallion” prints, I’ll likely drag them out when I’m 80), pajamas (flannel and sized to hold at least one other person — and, no, not because he had any kinky ideas — because he operates under the assumption that my feet are petite, but my ass is at least two sizes larger than it really is), and, of course, the inevitable robot vacuum cleaner (he does the vacuuming, so I guess that one worked out for him).

More than twenty years of well-meaning, yet still not quite right, gifts forced me to adopt the bold strategy of asking for exactly what I want. No more hints. No more leaving dog-eared magazines or catalogs lying around (like the ones he used to look quizzically at finding atop his pillow). No more candle-snuffers, cleaning-related products, or stage-worthy jewelry for me! Last year he even relaxed his “No Jewelry” policy and agreed to buy me the small Tiffany “Love” ring that I’d had my eye on for ages. This year I asked for AND received a new pair of chocolate brown UGGS mini boots (in the proper size!). Let me not leave you with the impression that my husband is perfect, though. No. He’s still working out the kinks with the whole “Christmas pajama” tradition. This year they weren’t flannel nor were they completely ludicrous. They would have been great if it weren’t for the see-through white top that accompanied the XL bottoms. So, while there’s always room for improvement, there is no substitute for proper training.

photo credit: crucifix

23 thoughts on “Avoiding the “Vague Idea”

  1. At this point, my wife just sends me the link! Not so original or creative but she is happy, and I know she will like it.

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  2. Audrey says:

    Hilarious! Oh, men… And we love them so.
    I can just imagine the jewelry fiasco, and the pajamas had me howling!
    This was my first Christmas with the boyfriend. He was wise and asked for a list. I’m so glad I had the foresight to include webpage links for him. No returns needed so I’ll call it a win! 🙂

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  3. wedelmom says:

    Oh my word – too funny. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want a crucifix dangling from a chain around your neck. Very gangsta.
    I have resorted to dragging my husband along when I shop and pointing at things. He’s getting there. Well….that and my daughters actually do help him get things I will like.

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  4. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Hilarious… And usually true, although you are right, not all men hate shopping :>)
    Knowing and specifying what one really wants in a direct way does save a lot of time and unnecessary effort…

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  5. mindbender99 says:

    Just so you know, I am an excellent shopper… Just ask my wife… On second thought…

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  6. well, you know what they say, huge jewelry, huge…

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  7. Oh this is too good! I was going to ask which piece of jewelry you were wearing the time you almost got mugged and started making those clucking sounds but then I see you returned it all! LOL!!

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    • javaj240 says:

      Of course I returned it all… it was a fortune. Last year he balked about the Tiffany ring. I was like, “Dude, it’s $125. Get over it. ” He did. I’m wearing it now. I wear it every day. I love it!

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  8. peachyteachy says:

    The Amazon wish list is also a gal’s good, good friend. Also handy for discerning the desires of a 21-year-old eccentric bibliophile/geek/musical son. May I also mention that one must be clear about the expectations for making the kids get one the one and only special something for Mother’s Day, etc. I consider it a triumph that I have not received a tiny thong (yes, even tinier than my actual tiny size) in several years.

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    • javaj240 says:

      OMG…. I will have to check out the Amazon wish list. I’m still using index cards and sharpies, LOL.

      If one of your boys ever gives you a thong… you must write a post about it. On second thought, maybe not. LOL!

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  9. You so make me laugh and you so live my life. Too funny. After a few returned jewelry items and robot vacuums and dustbusters (sexy), I started texting pics of jewelry items I like throughout the year and tearing out pages from catalogs with items circled clearly that I’d love to have someday. All going smoothly this last year or two. Love the Madonna crucifix!

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    • javaj240 says:

      I received a very sexy electric can opener a few years back. I’m glad to know I’m not alone out here and that someone else has a similarly challenged spouse.

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  10. Rick says:

    You figured it out. Just go ahead and say what you want. We men have always wondered why women think we should know what they are thinking. Great post.

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    • javaj240 says:

      It’s not that we want you to know what we’re thinking. It’s that we want to think that you know who we are— as people. At least that’s how I see it.

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  11. ethelthedean says:

    Epic. And hilarious!

    I think some dudes just love the idea of huge jewellery because it reminds them of battle armour (I know this is the case with my husband.) I don’t wear very much in terms of jewellery and when I do, simple and understated are my go-to and he, for the life of him, cannot understand why I don’t want that bronze chest-plate.

    Glad you finally got something that you wanted (and love!). Those pajamas sounds absolutely bonkers and I cannot stop laughing thinking about them. x

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    • javaj240 says:

      You would look quite fetching in a bronze chest plate, LOL!

      The pajamas are fine. I can make them work, as long as I wear a robe and pull the bottoms very tight. The worst part of the pajamas is that Fangette “helped” to pick them out. From Target. Hers, however, came from Aerie. Next year she’s getting Wal-Mart specials. I’m thinking of buying them in the boy’s department… maybe they’ll even have action heroes on them.

      He can be trained. She, on the other hand, may be a lost cause.

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