Shittygiftophobia, from the Latin for "Wow, You Gave Me Musical Socks," is the crippling fear that the gift you've chosen to give someone sucks. Its onset is sudden and, more often than not, brought about by the phrases "extended store hours" and "additional parking across the street."
Like that person who can't commit to a relationship for fear that someone better could be right around the corner, the shittygiftophobe has trouble choosing a suitable gift due to the misguided—some might say romantic—notion that the "perfect gift" is out there waiting to be found.
Perfectly acceptable gifts such as picture frames, CDs and various other novelty items are all passed over by the shittygiftophobe when he begins to question whether these gifts are personal enough. At the point in the season when most everyone has finished their Christmas shopping (allowing them to engage in typical holiday activities such as eating cookies, getting pine needles up their nose, and ice-skating on frozen ponds), the shittygiftophobe enters into an extremely dangerous state of shittygiftophobia, marked by debilitating anxiety due to pressure to not only find the perfect gift, but also to do so in one night. In this acute state, simple acts of shopping become increasingly difficult and painful for the shittygiftophobe to complete. He grows unreasonable, fearing that the gifts aren't good enough (inferiorgiftophobia), say something undesirable about the giver or the recipient (talkinggiftophobia), or offer insight into an unflattering belief held about the recipient by the giver, which the gifts never actually do but who wants to take that risk (neurosis)? At times, the shittygiftophobe creates for himself a self-fulfilling prophecy: the seeming futility of choosing a good gift leads him to choose something shitty, such as Band-aids or Vienna sausages.
Shittygiftophobia can be induced in a lab environment by the introduction of mistletoe, Bing Crosby and nutmeg.
Basically, shittygiftophobes are plagued by the question that has stumped man from time immemorial: is that gift a piece of shit or not? Even the best gifts have a little bit of shit in them, so there's never really an easy answer.
Until now, that is.
In conjunction with Elves Union Local 247 and the OC Weekly Datalab, we're proud to present the following guide to Gifts That Seem Bad but Are Actually Good, Gifts That Seem Good but Are Actually Bad, and Gifts That Are Just Plain Bad.
GIFTS THAT SEEM BAD TO SHITTYGIFTOPHOBE BUT ARE ACTUALLY GOOD:
• Picture frames
• Photo albums
• Candles (unless they've already been burned)
• Gift certificates
• Specialty food items
• Quality pornography
GIFTS THAT SEEM GOOD TO THE SHITTYGIFTOPHOBE BUT ARE ACTUALLY BAD:
• Redecorating someone's house as a surprise
• Blind date
• Ant farm
• Egg-laying chicken
• "Real snow!"
• Beanbag chair
• Big porcelain Dalmatian
• Swimming pool
• Rock tumbler
• All-expenses-paid skydiving trip
GIFTS THAT ARE JUST PLAIN BAD:
• Vienna sausages
• Garbage bags
• Rubbing alcohol
• Big box of artificial sweetener
• Poison oak
• Impostor perfume
• Impostor cheese
• I Can't Believe It's Not Cheese
• I Can't Believe It's Not Sushi
• Most toiletries
• The movie Pure Luck
• Bad (or used) pornography
• Used cosmetics
• Last year's Harry & David fruit basket
• Cheese logs
• Transmission fluid
• Bicycle paraphernalia for the person who doesn't have a bike
• Coke spoon
• M&M shower radio
• Spare tire
• Hotel towels
• Hotel sewing kit
• Clothes for your pet (and you don't even have a pet)
• Sea monkeys
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• Instructional video on how to wear scarves
• Yellow snow
• Wooden nickels