Friday, December 28, 2007

It's too late for shopping, but never too late to criticize other folks tips!

After returning from a day visiting the ruins of ancient Pompeii at the science museum, I came home to update myself on the goings-on of the world by browsing through the interweb's most popular stories on Digg. Of course, Digg tends to be hit-or-miss when it comes to relevance. Sure, it's generally pretty accurate about news stories and whatnot. But in the end, it's a site by nerds, for nerds. Typically, this doesn't bother me too much since I too am a nerd. However, whenever a story about "How to do [x] for your girlfriend" gets popular I know to take it with a grain of salt, because let's face it - most nerds have no clue how to deal with actual (i.e. non-World Of Warcraft) women.

Case in point, an article on Digg's top 10 at the moment detailing all the presents you should and should not get your girlfriend at "any stage" of your relationship. Written by a women who is obviously trolling for Digg traffic to her site selling medieval jewelry*, some of her ideas are accurate, some are incredibly obvious, and some are just weird. Let's examine, shall we?

Starting with some of her tips for "first gifts" for a girl you've just recently started dating. Here, she hits the low hanging fruit in the "don't buy" list. Obviously, lingerie is out because of the game men and women play when they first start dating - men must never indicate that they want to see women in lingerie, and women must never indicate that they already know men want to see them in lingerie. This "mutual plausible deniability" helps keep conversations from becoming awkward early on, and let's you try to get to know each other as people without having to try and figure out her bra size by "best guessing" or rummaging through her drawers while she's in the bathroom.

She continues nailing the easy ones by advising against the trite and the cliched (e.g. chocolate, candles) and the outright idiotic (e.g. gag gifts? Seriously? Men *do* that?). In general, her ideas aren't too horrible with one exception - lottery tickets in a card with a witty saying. Men, do not buy your girlfriend a lottery ticket. This is for two reasons: a) she will lose and then throw it away because it has no intrinsic value and b) it's cheap and therefore it gives you the impression that you are cheap. I mean, they cost what, a dollar? Think of all the other stuff you could get for a dollar - does any of it sound like a good gift? "Here honey, I got you a Snickers bar! I know I spent up for the King Size, but you're so worth it, baby!".

Moving on to her presents for when you're in a casual relationship. The interesting thing about this section is her continued rant against giving bath products because "they send the wrong message". Really? What message would that be? Is she actually concerned that someone you've been dating for a few months would interpret such a gift as a way of saying "you smell bad"? Or is she worried that the readers are actually dating Mogwai and don't know it? As someone who has dated actual women, let me tell you, bath products are safe provided you get an idea of what kinds of smells she likes first.

By the time she gets to the "Serious Relationship birthday gifts" she's still holding her own with a reasonable amount of normalcy. She also points out the fact that "some people see lingerie as the guy is buying himself a gift and giving it to his girlfriend, in other words it is more for the guy" - which is almost 100% accurate. To make that statement perfectly accurate she'd have to re-write it as "All women see lingerie as something the guy is buying for himself, and if you'd be honest with yourself a moment so would you, dude". Not that there is anything wrong with that, though, so long as everyone's honest about it.

At the end of her list though it becomes painfully obvious that her "gifts for people who've been seeing each other a while" is either completely imaginary or entirely hypothetical. I mean, her first suggestion is an *engagement ring*. And not because it's the right time to get engaged either, but rather because "If you have been together long enough that it is hard to come up with gift ideas getting married would seem to be the next step". Yeah, I'm sure *that* is when your girlfriend would want you to propose - when you've run out of other gift ideas.

The other suggestion in that list is the "coupon book". Not that it is a terrible idea, but the way she framed it was that this dude basically wrote down everything that his girlfriend complained about and gave her 1 coupon for each thing. Somehow, I can't imagine this going over well. "See honey? Remember how I always watch sports all day and hog the remote all the time? Well now, you can use this one coupon for one day and I won't do it for that whole day!". Hey, sluggo, how about just listening to what she is actually saying and not being a douchebag so much? Go ahead and give her the coupon book, just replace all the "I won't be an asshole" ones with extra foot massage ones. In the end she'll be a lot happier.

*About 90% of her posts look like top 10 lists of "stuff to buy for [insert target demographic]". Not that all top 10 lists are traffic bait, but when nearly all your recent posts are such - it's suspicious.

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