Gifts for Lovers

I have absolutely no proof of this, but I am willing to bet a slightly used (very slightly) $35 Replogle globe that most relationship breakups are precipitated by one of the four major relationship-gift-giving cycles: Christmas, Valentine's Day and the involved parties' birthdays.

This really has nothing to do with the occasions themselves but with the fact that on these days, material goods are exchanged. What has only been intimated at, vacillated aound and flat-out lied about in the relationship is now made materially clear with the purchase and presentation of product. Gifts are your relationship's quarterly report. If it was a good few months, the dividend is likely to be something nice that connotes long-term growth. But if the quarter has suffered from unrealistic expectations and bleak future prospects, you'll likely receive a $35 Replogle globe. Yeah. A globe. It happens.

The fact is that we Americans are into things. I don't know: maybe there are other places where relationships are judged more on how you act toward a person, how you treat them, the things you say and do—you know, stuff like that. But here, we put our trust in durable goods and, frankly, are the better for it.

So you must choose your present carefully; it says as much about you as it does about the person you're giving it to. But be not afraid. If you're willing to face up to where you think your relationship is at, gifts can actually be your friend, saying what you haven't had the guts to say yourself.

So here, you pathetic, emotionally crippled wretch: we offer these suggestions for the best gifts for the most common relationships.

THINGS ARE GREAT—LET'S STAY TOGETHER . . . FOREVER

This is the big one. The gift for the one with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. This is the gift they will always remember: where you two were, how you gave it to them, what their reaction was, and who is entitled to it in the community-property phase of the divorce proceeding.

For her: engagement ring from Tiffany's. From $1,000 to you-can't-count-that-high. It doesn't get any BIGGER than this. It's got name recognition, and women love that. It's the one she's been waiting for and dreaming about. It tells her you love her, you want to spend the rest of your life with her, and you think it's about time she starts putting out.

May we also suggest: a roomful of roses, sexy lingerie, a clean blood test.

For him: Panasonic 32-inch TV with stereo and picture-in-picture. It doesn't get any BIGGER than this. It's the one he's been waiting for and dreaming about. The picture-in-picture means you can watch one game and keep track of another at the same time. It tells him you love him, you want to spend the rest of your life with him, and instead of icky old sex, wouldn't he rather be watching the Lakers game?

May we also suggest: oral sex.

THINGS SEEM PRETTY GOOD TO ME—WHY CHANGE ANYTHING?

One of the trickiest gifts in the bunch. On the surface, you want to convey a sense of happiness and contentment. In actuality, you are saying that the relationship is going nowhere, though you don't yet have the ganas to break up. This is the status-quo gift. You want to go with something fun, something that says, "Hey, we're having a great time," without letting on that you're stalling in the hopes that something better will come along. As with most things, it's a good idea to throw money at the problem. An expensive and fun gift will probably get you over the hump. And if it doesn't, well, you're probably going to break up at Valentine's Day anyway, when you overplay your hand and buy them a dune buggy.

For her: deluxe air-hockey game. "Hey, hey, it's air hockey! You love air hockey, right?! 'Course you do—everybody loves air hockey! It's air hockey! Just saying it is fun! Air hockey! Air hockey! Air hockey! Boo-yah! Right?! Right!? Whaaat? C'mon! Air hockey!!!"

May we also suggest: electronic soft-tip dartboard; tournament-quality bocce-ball set.

For him: Replogle globe. I'm not sure how much these things cost now, but when I was made familiar with the product, it went for about, oh, 35 bucks. This is not one of those large, fancy gemstone globes decorated in the deep azure blues you see in a British study on PBS. No, this is the 12-inch-diameter, dirt-brown model, the kind you see in failing public schools, that still has on it countries that don't exist, such as the Soviet Union and Canada. This is the status-quo gift with a decidedly hostile bent. The giver can argue, lamely, that they are simply indulging their partner's intellectual curiosity and worldwide sense of adventure, but what they're actually saying is, "What? It's a globe. Uh-huh, I got you a globe. Whaddaya mean? It's a globe. Just saying it is fun! Globe! Globe! Globe! Boo-yah!"

May we also suggest: oral sex.

I LOVE YOU. . . . CHANGE

This is the gift for the person who, by no fault of his or her own, is really not what you're looking for, but you keep trying to mold them into that special someone you are looking for, which this person never, never will be and which each of you won't admit to yourselves until the vital parts of your lives are over. This is the gift that says, "Disappointed? Yeah, I'm disappointed. I mean, look at you."

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