Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
By Joe Collins
You might not know this, but you're a pretty good actor. You can play happy person when your natural instincts call for sarcastic humor with a slice of anger and embarrassment. Just flashback to the last time you opened a really lame present.
Take the following scene: you're exchanging gifts at a family party. You select a present. You rip off the wrapping paper and take a look inside. It's a pair of socks.
A Green Bay Packers pair of socks.
You: (pinching your fingers, forcing a smile, twitching slightly, trying to be nice) "Y-y-yeah! It's great! I can put it to good use!"
Your Sarcastic Thoughts: "Yeah...as exhibit A in a restraining order case in the near future."
The Gift-Giver: "Oh yeah! I thought you might like that! I heard you like sports!"
You: (shaking your head incredulously) "That indeed."
Your Sarcastic Thoughts: "That's it. I'm moving in with the Kardashians. I'm out. Every year it's something different with this bunch."
The holiday season brings out the best acting skills in all of us. We gut out conversations with people we see once a year. We compliment the chef whose food may or may not have a hair in it. We try to play the nice guy. We try to not embarrass people. We don't want to hurt anyone in the season of hope, joy and giving. We try to shake off bad Christmas presents. The gift might be a waste, but we don't want burn bridges in case the person actually comes through with a fairly decent one down the line, you know?
But there shouldn't be the need to act in the first place. It's time to take a stand.
It's always better to give than receive this time of year, right? So if we're going to go all-out in giving, we need to start doing it correctly. I have come up with a list of the worst possible gifts you can give to a sports fan. It's a list that's sure to turn one's stomach and serve as a breeding ground for horrible flashbacks to Aunt Shirley's X-Treme X-Mas party back in 2002 (or whatever). But through pain does come pleasure. Take notes. And don't be "that guy" or "that girl" that serves up the following:
A Personalized Jersey: I went to a game at Cubs-Mets game at Shea Stadium a while back and sat a few rows behind a guy that had "Szczepanski" and a 21 on his road Cubs jersey. The Mets fans had a field day with it: "My Sosa...how you've changed!" "Hey Pat...I'd like to buy a vowel!" "I bet you spent more on that jersey than on your flight." "Tell your Mommy to stop sending you out in bad clothing." And so on. Nonstop. For nine innings. But don't blame the long last name or opportunistic Mets fans. Blame the moronic idea of personalized jerseys. They're the equivalent of having your name printed on your lunch box in 3rd grade. They both will leave you hurt mentally (and physically in, say, Oakland).
A Team Logo-ed Tie: This is where having a girlfriend should...should...come in handy. No girl in their right mind would let their guy wear a tie like this in public. And if you're a guy that sneaks out of the house with a tie like that? You know what-- good for you. You have no shame. Nice job with being your own independent self. It's admirable. But take note: if you're closing down a bar at 2:45am, and it's down to you and that guy over there battling to get that girl's phone number, you will eventually need the tie to wipe away your tears. You have no shot.
Cologne Endorsed By An Athlete: I was one of the biggest Michael Jordan fans growing up. I got his shoes, hung up his posters, watched every game and screamed like crazy when he would go for 50 at the old Madhouse on Madison. He is, and will always be, the man. But my Mom and Dad got the idea that, since I was a fan of MJ, I would be a fan of his cologne. Not exactly. No offense Mike, but the Michael Jordan cologne smells like a combination or kerosene, Preferred Stock and a tequila bar in Cabo on New Year's morning.
Bad Sports Movies On DVD: If you're a sports fan, you need to be careful when you talk about your likes and dislikes around others. See, a lot of guys like sports, movies and comedy. But a lot of gift-givers screw up and think that all three of these can be combined into one can't-miss present:
You: "Oh wow! You got me...Caddyshack 2!
Gift Giver: "Yeah! I thought you'd like that! I figured since you love golf and already own the original Caddyshack, it would be perfect!"
Not exactly. Friends don't let friends watch two hours of failure (even most Clippers fans). Other sports movies not to give as presents this holiday season: Rocky V, Angels In The Outfield, The Fan, Any Given Sunday, The Babe, Juwanna Man, Major League: Back To The Minors, Slap Shot 2, Like Mike, Kazaam, Ed and Teen Wolf Too.
An Autographed PhotoBaseball CardBallJersey Of Someone You Don't Cheer For: Here's another rule-- any time you hear a person repeat the kind of gift they're opening, it's usually a sign that you goofed up. For instance if someone says to you, "Oh wow...you got me an autographed picture of Hakim Warrick! Nice!", you're in trouble. Hey-- just because you got a killer deal on eBay doesn't make you a hero on Christmas morning. Do some homework.
Bad sports gift honorable mentions include: socks of rival teams, socks of your favorite team, socks...period, random team-sponsored paraphernalia (plastic lawn ornaments, air fresheners, seat covers, floor mats, orthodontia..etc), tickets for teams you don't cheer for, any sports-themed Christmas ornament, any Jock Jams CD or any sports-themed underwear.
Good ideas for the sports fan in your life? How about high-def television? Or a recliner chair? Tickets to the Super Bowl? OK, OK, let's not get crazy here. But seriously, even something simple like a gift-card to an all-you-can-eat wingsburger joint on football Sunday would do the trick. All it takes is a little research-- without going overboard. Sports fans are simple but we're slightly more fickle than you might think. We love our sports but we won't know what to do with a Macho Man Randy Savage lunch box. And we don't want to waste time regifting or putting things on Craigslist.
And we'd rather keep our acting skills at bay.
(Wait hold on a second...I know people that would like a Macho Man Randy Savage lunch box. A lot of people.)
Or something like that.