Summer is a potentially fun time of year, but many people, and especially retailers, are already focusing on Christmas. As proof, last weekend I saw a plastic Christmas tree in the middle of a big department store with a bunch of packages under it.
This subliminal marketing initiative involves an onslaught of virtually worthless products now hitting the store shelves. If you're fortunate, one of your close friends won't stumble onto something like this and take the bait for buying the perfect gift just for you.
Don't worry, there's an upside; receiving a lousy summer-purchased gift in the mail in December is ideal for "regifting." I have a confession that won't stun you; I'm a "gift dumper." Don't tell me you've never done it; lousy gifts need to be passed around. Here's my annual list of gifts I don't want to receive this summer.
A talking fly swatter. At this stage of life, flies are almost a non-problem. People my age commonly swat at eye floaters and talk to themselves while performing various mundane tasks, so we don't need any encouragement for conversation with an innate object about the process of flailing the air.
A "How to tie a tie" instructional DVD. If you're old enough to read this, then you've either learned to tie your own tie, know someone who can do it for you, or are bright enough to figure out that ties come in handy in two instances: 1) weddings, and 2) funerals. If you see someone wearing a tie in Arizona, especially during the summer, it's a safe bet they're from out of town or working for a government agency that you'd be advised to avoid.
Plexiglas scorpion paperweight. These are prominent in the Southwest and found in abundance in truck stops. I received two of them over the years, and both were re-gifted at the most opportune times. One of the recipients already made a payback; the other pal continues plotting his gift revenge.
Signing me up for any food-of-the-month club. If I need sustenance I can get it at the grocery store or in a restaurant. I figure that food stored and shipped from warehouses is essentially a concoction of chemical preservatives that most desert critters would avoid, so I'm not eating it.
Any kind of power or manually operated tool. I can competently operate scissors most of the time, but that's about it in the tool department. I've often mentioned that when it comes to home repairs, I'm dangerous. If I fix it additional problems will likely result. Don't send me a potential problem.
Self-help DVD program. I can speak for the majority of males when I say that our fathers taught us how to be self-sufficient. In those instances when we were quietly unsure of ourselves, we learned to smile and ask lots of questions until the problem was resolved or simply dissipated of its own accord.
Tanning salon sessions. In case you haven't kept up with the health news lately, tanning beds have been shown to increase the instances of skin cancer in people of every age range. Besides, living in the Southwest and having 300-plus sunny days annually is ample opportunity for natural skin discoloration. Finding shade poses the real challenge.
Cheap booze. I'm a lifelong, staunch, nearly non-drinker drinker who was often the designated driver during my younger days, so I don't need any booze, especially the cheapo kind that could be used to power a combustion engine in an emergency.
Tickets to the opera or ballet. I can almost sit through one of these performances in the comfort of my living room, but even then I tend to nod off and my butt and mind go numb. Pro sports tickets are acceptable because I can sell them on Craigslist.
T-shirt. I don't care what you had to do to get it I have about 200 of them from various events and most are unworn. Send a pair of size 11 flip-flops instead.
Honorable mention: Anything advising "some assembly required" with multi-page instructions. Talking tire pressure gauge: See number five above. I sometimes talk to myself nowadays, but I don't expect an answer.
A simple test for summer gift purchasing: Would you use the gift you're about to purchase for me? I thought so. Save yourself some money and forego a payback when you least expect it, possibly at your next high school reunion.