What did you get for Christmas? Like everybody, I have received some very strange and clueless gifts in my life. But my girlfriend Miki (pronounced "My Key," you ruffians) is routinely given the most cringe-inducing presents I've ever seen, all from her well-meaning but eccentric mother. (See what I mean by "eccentric": Check out this photo of her living room.)I'll let Miki take it from here. Behold her tribute to tasteless gifts:
- The Roach Clip. When I was 8 or so, my mother presented me with a Christmas gift that she picked up when she was traveling. She insisted that it was a "barrette" and that this combo of long, leather, purple and white strings with beads and feathers would be a stunning compliment to my then-long locks. I knew at the time that the clasp wasn't right to be a "barrette," but I had no idea what its purpose could have been. About 15 years later, I discovered this artifact again when digging around in my Little Girl bedroom. After hysterically laughing at what I held in my hand, I marched to my mother and asked her if she remembered giving it to me. "Yes, that's the barrette that I got you in Arizona." "Mom, this is not a barrette... this is a roach clip!" She looked at me blankly. "You use this to hold marijuana so that it doesn't burn you when you smoke it." She shrugged and simply replied, "You know I don't know anything about that kind of thing."
- The Glittery Shell. It is a heavy black piece of cement-like material, molded into the shape of a shell. It is covered in electric blue glitter. I guess it was meant to be a paperweight. I laughed when I opened it, amused by the thought of someone seeing a glittery fake shell in a store, thinking, "Miki would love this!" and actually buying it. When I asked my mother why she thought I would like it, she simply replied, "Aren't those your colors?"
- The Framed George Harrison Record. I received a framed 45 of George Harrison's song "Give Me Love - Give Me Peace on Earth"... a song which I have still never heard in any format. The engraved plaque on the frame says, "This Was The Number 1 Song on June 29, 1973," the day I was born. I once also received a Beanie Baby that was born on June 29, as well as the same little The Year That Was: 1973 booklet on at least four separate occasions.
- The Lucite Tic-Tac-Toe Set. I guess my mother figured that since I don't have a TV, what I needed to fill the countless hours at home was a lucite tic-tac-toe set, which I guess was meant to sit attractively on my coffee table to be played at my leisure. I shouldn't have found this too strange... my parents have had a brass tic-tac-toe set sitting on their bar for the past 30 years.
- The Mushroom Garden. She was very excited about this one! "You're not gonna believe this.... it's a mushroom garden!" Yes, this stinky, brown, heavy chunk of crap was intended to sit in a pan of water and grow "gourmet" shiitake mushrooms on it. I tried to get it to work... rather, my ex did, because I'm no good with plants. She did manage to harvest a few puny shiitake mushrooms off of it, but then I went away for a few months and she moved out, strangely taking the mushroom garden with her (I shouldn't be surprised... she took everything else too). I'm sure that they are very happy together.
- The Zucchini Bowl. No, this is not a bowl meant for cooking or serving (or growing) zucchini, it's actually MADE OF ZUCCHINI. The bowl is very fragile and you couldn't put anything more substantial than potpourri in it, but according to my mother, "It's a great conversation piece!" This is true, except that the conversations usually go, "Look at this weird bowl made out of zucchini that my mother gave me!"
- "I Hired a Real Artist to Paint It" #1. My mother's current obsession is to "hire a real artist" to paint a bizarre picture of me on an even more bizarre item. I got the first one in 2001: In order to commemorate the fact that I had bought my first new car that year, she "hired a real artist" to paint a picture of me, in my new car, on a silver Christmas tree ornament. I actually thought this was pretty funny, and I hang it proudly in my living room.
- "I Hired a Real Artist to Paint It" #2. This is actually the only gift in my life that has actually made me get all exasperated and exclaim, "Why would you do this??!??!" This would take me at least 15 minutes to really get all of the back-story in here, so I'll distill it down to the most crucial facts: A horrible photo was taken of me when I was 23 by some photography studio. My parents have a life-sized print of it hanging over their fireplace. I hate it so much that I can't wait until my parents are gone, so I can throw it into the sea, but my mother loves it. LOVES it. She is no stranger to my feelings on it, however. So imagine my surprise when in 2002 I opened a package to find that she had "hired a real artist" to paint THAT photo.... on a prism. Yes. Prism. I could not contain my horror: "Mom, would you like it if I took a photo of you that you hated, hired a real artist to paint it on something, and then GAVE IT TO YOU?" She stopped for a minute and replied, "Well, now that you put it that way, I sure wouldn't." However, she so loved the painted prism that she decided I wasn't allowed to take it with me, and it now sits on the white Steinway piano, right next to an autographed headshot of Elvis.
- "I Hired a Real Artist to Paint It" #3. After my last outburst, I couldn't imagine that a real artist would have anything to do with any of my gifts anymore. This time my mother decided to commemorate my reaching all 50 states. So, on a strange glass candle holder, she "hired a real artist" to paint a photo that I had given her of me at Mt. Rushmore with the words, "July 10, 2003. 50th State!" I got pretty nervous when I saw the presidential heads... until I realized that I wasn't in the painting for a change. "I told her not to put you in the painting, no matter what she did!" I guess she does listen after all.