Honey, you shouldn’t have…

November 12, 2008

 Last night, Connie and I shared a laugh at our kids’ expense when we reviewed their Christmas wish list.  Truth be told, we shouldn’t be throwing rocks in the glass house that we built for our little nuclear family.  After 16 years of marriage, both of us have floated a couple of turds under the old Christmas tree. So really, who are we to laugh at a couple of little boys who seem to think that fake cigarettes would make an excellent gift?


For instance, many Christmas’s ago I thought the one gift that would earn my love’s undying gratitude was a pair of slippers cleverly crafted to resemble the face of an extremely angry/horny gorilla.  You’ve probably gathered from earlier posts that I have a rather unhealthy fascination with primates.  In fact, I was so enamored with gorillas and monkeys that I failed to realize that my adoration was not shared by all.  I guess I was looking at the world through a pair of  “Shane Goggles”. After all, I would kill for a pair of Gorilla slippers so I can’t imagine someone not feeling the exact same way.  It’s only after 15 additional years of marriage and many months of professional psychiatric help that I can look back and see just how warped my perceptions were.


Profound True Statement- Slippers designed to resemble a horny Gorilla, though exceptionally creative and humorous, may not be the perfect gift for your new spouse on the first Christmas of your union.  Who would have known?


The look of pride on my face the night that Connie opened them was matched only by the look of utter disappointment (actually disgust) on hers.  I have to give her credit though, she didn’t cry or hit me- nor did she call me an insensitive boob.  Nope, she didn’t do any of those things. She simply grabbed our credit cards, marched directly to the nearest mall and proceeded to purchase those items which Santa/her husband failed to produce.  Strangely, none had a wildlife theme. To my dismay, I never saw the slippers again. Sometimes, late at night, I wonder how they’re doing. Did they find a loving home?  Are they warming the feet of some other lucky person?  Or did they simply escape back to the lowlands of Africa to join other unappreciated gorilla-themed holiday gifts?  I may never know, but I’ll always wonder.


I didn’t get redemption for the gorilla fiasco for 12 long years, but I am a patient man and I knew one day Connie would be the agent of her own undoing.  Along comes the Christmas season of 2005- a season I like to refer to as my delivery from “Inappropriate Gift Hell”. 


Two days before Christmas eve, Connie cornered me in the kitchen.  The kids were still awake- I’m sure they were somewhere in the house shaving off their eyebrows or creating giant mounds of Fruit Loop dust which I would later find in the recesses of the couch cushions.  It was during this relatively calm moment that Connie approached me with a Christmas gift. Judging by the glowing look of pride on her face, it was something tremendous.  The box itself was quite large, approximately 2ft x 3ft and about 8 inches thick.  The minute I looked at the box thoughts of power tools and extremely large handguns danced like magical sugar plums through my brain. What else could possibly make my wife so proud?  Obviously she had found the perfect gift for her Marine.


She explained she could no longer wait to present me with this amazing gift. She tried, but the anticipation was too much to bear and she wanted me to open it immediately.  Always willing to oblige, I tore through the wrapping paper positive it would be an item designed for destruction or construction, either way it would be manly enough to make John Wayne weep with joy.  It was neither.  Instead, what I held in my hands was a “Roomba”- in layman’s terms, a vacuum cleaner.  This is an excerpt from the conversation that followed.


Connie– “What do you think, isn’t it the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Shane– “It’s a vacuum cleaner.”

Connie– “No, no honey, it’s a robot.”

Shane– “Funny, it says on the box that this “robot” cleans the floor using an amazing innovation called suction. It sounds like a vacuum.”

Connie– “Shane, it’s a robot that will vacuum the floor for you, that way you can do other manly things like the dishes for instance.”

Shane– “Can the Roomba do dishes?

Connie– “No.”

Shane– “Can the Roomba talk?”

Connie– “No.”

Shane– “What else does the Roomba do then?”

Connie– “Ummmm…nothing I guess.”

Shane– “Sounds like a vacuum to me.”

Mack– “Hey, Dad, what do you have?”

Shane– “Mom says it’s a killer droid straight from the Star War’s trilogy sent to annihilate dust bunnies without the slightest bit of remorse.”

Mack– “Looks like a little vacuum.”


I imagine that I gave Connie the same look she gave me so many years ago when she opened up her gorilla slippers.  I tried to be gracious- I did attempt to build rapport with the Roomba but we never really seemed to recover after I referred to it as a vacuum that first night.  I even named it- in fact, I named it “Little Shane” because I felt it was the only other creature in the house specifically designed to clean things.  Connie referred to it as Shane too, but I think her reasoning was that “Little Shane”, like its namesake, had a one-track mind.


My relationship with Little Shane was short-lived and a tad bit strained.  The damn thing was noisy, inefficient and prone to throw itself down the basement stairs.  The suicidal stair episodes were my own doing- I often left the door open to see if Little Shane was capable of developing artificial intelligence- he wasn’t.  When I say inefficient, I mean it.  Little Shane would take approximately 9 hours to vacuum a 4ft X 4ft patch of hardwood flooring, roughly the same amount of time it would have taken me to scrub an interstate with a toothbrush and a bar of soap.  I knew it was time to set him free when both of us started to act openly hostile toward each other when we occupied the same room.


So when we put up “Little Shane” for adoption, it wasn’t a sad day for me.  After all, everyone deserves to live in a healthy, love-filled environment where it’s possible to reach one’s full potential as a global citizen.  Shortly after placing “Little Shane” on craigslist, his new parent came to our door with his $80.00 adoption fee in hand and a smile on his face.  When I asked him if he was prepared for the responsibility of parenthood, he told me, “Oh no it’s not for me; I am buying it for my fiancé”.  I no longer feel bad about the gorilla slippers.




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