Saturday, December 21, 2002
Well, after about a week of way too much running around, I think that my Christmas shopping is almost done now. Somewhere along the line, I managed to somehow get a reputation for being good at shopping for gifts. I have no idea where that might have come from. When I shop for presents, the process usually goes something like this:
- drive to some big "everything but the kitchen sink" store.
- Spend a half hour wandering around aimlessly trying to think of what the intended recipient might like.
- Wander into the electronics department, and spend fifteen minutes playing something on one of the video game demo kiosks, although it is doing absolutely nothing to help me find the present I'm looking for.
- Realize I just wasted fifteen minutes playing through the same level of Metroid Fusion that I've played through 12 times before. Wander around aimlessly for another half hour.
- Suddenly realize that I've managed to end up in the cosmetics department.
As a single, not-particularly social computer geek, I can thinking of nothing more boring than shopping for cosmetics. Fortunately, it is rare that there will be any reason I need to go anywhere near the cosmetics department, From observation, it seems that the proper protocol for guys in this situation is to find something gimmicky on a lower shelf, and start at it with a facial expression somewhere between that of a sleepwalker and a zombie. When asked a question by whatever wife/girlfriend/significant something-or-other dragged you there in the first place, the appropriate answer seems to be unintelligible muttering that probably translates to Zombie for "ask me that again and I will devour your brain." On occasion you might attempt to find a more interesting aisle nearby, but most places seem to place the cosmetics somewhere in between haircare and the Embarrassing Personal Care Items aisle. If you're in a department store, your choices are usually either shoes or lingerie, so you're pretty well stuck there too. I suppose that the theoretical Wife to be Named Later(TM) might change my attitude toward such things, but somehow I don't see myself as being able to offer much useful information on selecting the appropriate shade of hazelnut maroon anytime soon.
Having found my way out of the cosmetics aisle somehow, I then continue on my currently fruitless search for the perfect gift that probably doesn't exist anywhere on this planet. At this point, I'll generally either come to the conclusion that there is nothing suitable in this entire store and head elsewhere to repeat the whole process over again, or I'll just pick up the first bright shiny object that looks moderately plausible and call it good. Sometimes, this results in some unusual results. What I've learned from years of something resembling experience is that if you have to ask yourself, "Gee, I wonder if Heather would like a new toaster?", chances are she wouldn't like one (Note to Heather if you're reading this: You're not getting a toaster, but don't be too surprised if you find yourself with 27 pounds of fresh rutabaga under the tree.)
Somehow, in addition to my own Christmas shopping, I was asked to do some of my parents' shopping as well this year, owing to a general lack of time on their part. Although this made it slightly easier to determine what to get, it also made for a whole lot of running around town on various wild goose chases. One in particular, required 4 different stores, 30 miles, and occasional questioning as to whether the product in question even existed in the first place (it does, but apparently only at The Sharper Image, and at a cost of $60 or more.) Another present involved a trip into the Capitol Hill neighborhood Downtown Seattle, the land that Urban Planning forgot. As with many of the various neighborhoods scattered around Seattle, this neighborhood is populated predominantly by the type of people your mother wouldn't approve of. The streets were planned sometime around the turn of last century, and were probably marginal at best for accomodating horses and buggies, much less cars. Between the one-way roads, the lack of turn lanes, and general chaotic nature of the roads in the area, it can be a real pain to even find what you're looking for in the area. Then there's the issue of parking. Other than the few robber baron pay lots (in a recent poll, the owner of Diamond Parking Services, one of the major parking lot operators in the area, was voted the most hated person in Seattle) you can theoretically park on the streets. That is, if you can find a spot somewhere, and you can parallel park on a dime. At particularly busy times of the day, you can find yourself spending nearly an hour driving around looking for a spot, until you finally just break down and spend $5 to park miles from your intended destination. Fortunately, I manged to find a spot roughly a block away, and managed to get in and out of the area relatively unscathed.
Anyway, with one exception, my shopping is done now. Fortunately, we don't have to go anywhere for Christmas (in fact, we'll be having the gathering on Christmas Eve here at our house, as we have for the past several years.) I don't know if we could get everyone in our family to anywhere else in less than three cars anyway, so it works out pretty well.