Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Present clinic is open for business

Hello and welcome to the inaugural Belgian Waffle Christmas present clinic. But before we kick off, I want to continue our survey of disturbing seasonal customs with this contribution from Czech colleague. I just knew they would get up to badness over there. I was right.

"The St. Nicks tradition in Czech - we have the St. Nick (Russian style bearded dude in bishopric outfit with a long staff), accompanied by the devil (of course black and with horns) with long chains, potatoes and sack for bad children and then an angel to balance the whole trio out.
One of my friends was doing this to earn money in college and had some hilarious stories involving inordinate alcohol consumption in the process of visiting all the poor children whose unwitting parents contracted this bunch".

Do we want to hear these stories people? HELL YES. We do. But in the meantime, feast your eyes on the following indescribably creepy tableaux:

Firstly "The devil wears a Kevin Keegan wig" would have been a much better title, Lauren Weisberger or whatever your name is. Secondly, Czech Colleague told me to note that the angel had been replaced by a second devil here. I couldn't even see Devil 2 to start with, but then those disturbing features started to coalesce into a humanoid (well, sort of. Is it a cyclops?) form around St Nick's shoulder - shudder shudder shudder.

And this:

St Nick's FACE on that picture! What is it made of? The charred flesh of bad children?

Moving swiftly on, let's open present clinic.

Patient 1

First up, Persephone from Hades is looking for help for these two (Persephone I can't link to you because your site breaks my computer at work. And then I have to talk to Johan or Joost in IT and they are really objectionable and slightly rancid. Sorry. She's on the links on the right hand side, people):

Easily Offended Sister: Age is probably inappropriate as she's been suffering from terminal adolescence for years. Tall, red-headed double Leo. (Tread carefully.) When growing up, only wanted whatever her friends had. As far as I can gather, has listened exclusively to compiled tapes and "classic rock" radio stations since graduation. Has become an exercise-nut since diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes four years ago. Likes fantasy fiction and lesbian folk-rock. Asthmatic. Weepy and sentimental mother of two slightly-used children.

Her Husband, The Jolly Green Brother-in-law (isn't actually green; is jolly some of the time): 6'7" computer geek, ten years my sister's junior. Is into every computer/video game that I know nothing about, which is all of them. Also into classic Superman and graphic novels (another rather blank area for me -- the only graphic novel I ever "got" was Maus). Have yet to buy him clothes that actually fit, even when consulting "big and tall" stores for men.

Hmm. First I consulted the gmail oracle, who suggested "Real men's Hawaiian shirts". Persephone was quite encouraged by this idea. I reckon if they like Hawaii a ukulele each might be nice too. They could play lesbian complaint rock together. Fingers got a red uke last year, and the label had a bikini-clad Hawaiian beauty frolicking in the surf with her trusty ukulele. Consequently he insists it is his "Ukulele de mer" and only plays it on holiday at the beach. True story.

I found these two cheat lists of Top 10 graphic novels for JGBIL. BMF, whose mission is to be genuinely helpful as opposed to stupid like me, suggests the DVD of Sin City even though he describes it as "appallingly bad". We both like these radio controlled jousting knights and I am still trying to find someone who will wear the beard hat. Might JGBIL be the one? A USB light sabre? We are struggling, as you can see. Quarsan? I think you could help out here. Being male and full of wrongness.

Easily Offended sister might like a pair of genuine squirrel foot earrings? Or maybe a pretty tree ornament? I'm sorry. I will stop just putting in Craftastrophe links. It's too, too easy. But so tempting! Hey, how about some of the new winter furry FitFlops. They are less fugly (and crucially MUCH cheaper) than MBTs and good for her exercise-obsessive side. She can be working out even as she wanders around her home grooving to classic rawk! Miraculous.

BMF wonders if she has already got into the Twilight novels, though I suspect the answer is yes. He thinks that they will suit her very generic tastes and that the breathless tone will appeal to someone trying to hang on to her inner youth. He even provided me with some sample dialogue "I stared at his face. it was a testament to its incandescent beauty that it distracted my eyes from his muscled torso outlined by his cream wool turtle neck. I was lost". Hee!


Patient 2

Pochyemu (the woman whose husband wraps her presents in kitchen towel, and who got her a three headed pink sparkly Ann Summers vibrator last year) is also facing a challenge:

My dad: He doesn't drink, golf, hunt, ski, read books, watch much TV, go out, enjoy going out, have any grand desires to do anything new or, indeed, interesting. He's just nice and homely.

He does: do DIY (complete floor to ceiling restoration of their 20-something roomed house). Unfortunately, he has every book, gizmo or gadget for doing DIY-ey things.

If anyone can also suggest a gift for Rob the penis exhibitionist, mussel hospital crafting husband, that would be a bonus (though he has already bought his own Christmas present - 2 Aikido mats).

Well. The gmail oracle suggested a "Travelling desk". I don't even know what this is, but Pochyemu did, and said that her mother already had one. So that's out.
Soooo. Does he have a weed wand? It's like a blowtorch for the garden, and according to Violet, most satisfying. Or, Violet has also tried to make me buy a sort of bin shaped thing that you burn stuff in the garden in. This link shows you how to make one yourself with pictures culled from the nineteen fifties! Useful and hand-crafted. BMF comments: "some of my genuinely fondest memories feature a leaf burner".
Uh, given you haven't mentioned anything about him liking gardening OR fire, I am not sure where this came from. But, really, what's not to love.

Does he have one of those ridiculous little weather stations? The CFO loves his. He's always telling me meteorological factoids that are of absolutely no interest. It's currently in the crisper compartment of the fridge, checking whether conditions are optimal for hibernation.

Or possibly this hoof coat rack? You say he doesn't like hunting, but here all the hard work has been done for him. He can just get his power drill out, and hang it up. Marvellous.

Maybe you could get a divorce. I'm sure he'd love that (sorry Rob, you seem like a magnificent guy, but I can't imagine it's every father's dream for his princess to marry a man intent on showing his penis to the internets).


Patient 3

In a slightly different, but perhaps even more challenging vein, we have this plaintive little missive from Janet:

"I've got a mother-in-law of whom I'm very fond, however....she has returned (as far as I know) EVERY present anyone in her life has ever given her, including a bouquet of flowers sent by her own daughter. Yes, she returned flowers, saying they were two big for her table and ended up with a gift certificate to use later at the florist. She seems to view present-buying as an occasion to fill a need, for say, a new kitchen spatula, and not as a carefully chosen expression of love regardless of need. She even returned a gift card to her favorite department store that I gave her for her birthday, (me) thinking it the only safe option. I'm at a loss!"

Clearly Janet's mother-in-law needs something that's impossible to return. Not even perishables are safe from this woman's returnomania. The only answer, as I see it, is to make something. Don't be intimidated if you're not crafty, Janet. Remember the cardinal rule of Christmas craft - if at first you don't succeed, throw more glitter at it. A calendar with photos of her beloved son? A hand-carved spatula-tidy? An egg box crocodile?

Or! I have another idea. Buy her something, anything, that you think she would like if it were not for her returnomania, but tell her she can't take it back because you shoplifted it. Or you got it in the closing down sale.

BMF, ever with the sensible suggestions, thought a charity goat might be good. Or an animal adoption? We adopted the CFO a red river hog one year. It was the ugliest creature imaginable.

You couldn't return anything that ugly, could you? It would just be unconscionably cruel. Poor bearded pig.

We used to go to the zoo and shout at it in a proprietary fashion, and the CFO would try and hypnotise it by scratching behind its ears (he really can make pigs fall over by doing this - I will have to video him at work to prove it) until the keeper chased us away.

Ok, comments box, over to you. If you don't think I've quite nailed it, this is your chance.

Anyone who wishes to feature in next week's present clinic waffle mail me with details of your tricky customer.

And be good. St Nick is watching.


Pochyemu said...

Those are indeed interesting suggestions, however I'm afraid carrying a blowtorch on a plane (even if 'it is just for gardening, officer!') might be a no-no in this day and age. Divorce might be the way forward, for all parties involved. But I would like to hear other offers from commentors...

(Rob did create his own blog the other day, but he has since shut it down claiming woefully, 'I don't have anything to say'. I would feel sorry for him except he has made me look like I'm married to a Grade-A Sex Maniac and Penis Pervert, so I don't have any pity.)

Persephone said...

Okay, those Craftastrophe things are the scariest things ever, but I am tempted to send EOS the squirrel foot earrings which are disgusting, but go very well with her colouring. I'm torn (but not as much as that poor squirrel).

The Superman graphic novel sounds ideal; I wonder if JGBIL has that. And the FitFlops...not bad.... Actually all of these suggestions show promise, if I'm feeling brave enough to send such stuff to Fire Signs. (JGBIL is an Aries.) You guys are truly gifted, if you'll pardon the pun.

My harmless little blog breaks your computer? I'm mystified.

My word verification is "yedis" which are mid-Western abominable snowman who like to hang out with black Czech devils.

Pochyemu said...

Persephone - In case the earrings don't work out:

Red Shoes said...

I am ASTONISHED by this post. Devils with Santa?? Charred flesh of children masks?? Three headed vibrators for Christmas?? WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?!?

I want to wash out my head now. Poor Christmas.

It's hilarious that WV is "frighto". It's amazingly intuitive.

Unknown said...

The weather station thing resonated. I bought one for the spouse four years ago and he still bores everyone to tears with it. He's forever moving the remote sensors to different areas of the garden, and at least four times a week I pretend to listen to max/min temperature stats over breakfast.
In a moment of spectacular idiocy, I bought him a rain gauge last year, and now I have to fake interest in rainfall too.
I suspect this is the reason for my occasional bouts of sobbing in the shower.

Waffle said...

OK karen, I love you. That's the CFO sorted for this year.

Red Shoes - I know, I know. It's a dark brutal place over here in europe. Sorry.

Persephone - it's the nineteenth century in my workplace. The other Persephone's blog actually causes the entire building to explod;e

Pochyemu - Sorry. We have let you down. Here's hoping someone else is more inspired..

Persephone said...

Pochyemu, regarding Rick's Custom Squirrels: words fail me.

katyboo1 said...

I suggest hiring out a mad axe murderer to come and chop brutal holes in every piece of finished DIY your father has done. This will give him the perfect excuse to get all his toys out again and rebuild the house. Plus. Fabulous stories at dinner parties for years to come. And if you hire a local axe murderer you won't have to pay excess luggage on the plane.

As for exhibitionist husband I suggest tickets to the long running show, Puppetry of the Penis, if it is indeed still running. They probably have a how to manual at the box office and he can get inspiration and material for a new blog.

Geeky brother in law. Light sabres are excellent. I bought my husband two of the expensive repro ones for Christmas one year. They make all the right noises when you hit them together and the light comes on just like in the film. He can often be seen stumbling around in darkened fields with his equally geeky friend, battering the bejeezus out of each other.

I've peaked now. Must go for a lie down.

I want those squirrel earrings for my friend Auntie Squirrel. Unfortunately she will kill me shortly after receiving them, but I can't help wanting them anyway.

Pochyemu said...

@Katyboo1: You are right. About everything. Wrong, but oh so right.

Waffle said...

Come ON people. You must have other ideas. Katyboo has done good work. Are there no advances on this?

katyboo1 said...

ok. Now I'm rested I had an idea for difficult returning things mother in law. How about embracing the fact that for her it is the thrill of the chase? Buy her a series of randomly inappropriate presents. She will open them and be as disappointed as usual. You then hand over an envelope. It has instructions for a treasure hunt, where at every stage when she solves another clue she finds the receipt for returning the item. If she fails she will be forced to keep the present or give it to a jumble sale.

Or buy her presents from places where she will be too ashamed to return them, i.e. Anne Summers, the local crack den, manacles from dungeons 'r' us.

Lots of festive fun!

Waffle said...

Thank goodness for Katyboo! Where would we be without your demented ideas? Nowhere. That is where. And there would be some very sad people out there eyeing up a half chewed Woolworths voucher and wondering why noone loves them.

Now. Rest of you - more ideas please or I will send St Nicolas after you. It is snowing seasonally here in Brussels and I am feeling wrathful.

nappy valley girl said...

Re the tableaux: I am speechless. Just speechless. (Is that Brian May from Queen in the first one?)

Teena Vallerine said...

Haven't time, popped in for a quick refresher and, suitably mind-blown I'm off again..... t.x

Alyson said...

Okay, Pochyemu, I have an appropriate gift idea, maybe. For your father. Ready Made magazine - it has a bunch of fun DIY projects in it and contests for things like most creative idea for a used egg-crate. I love it. Depending on his age and location it might be a bit difficult. It's geared towards the 20-40 something DIY-er, but if he can handle a little hipness, it should be cool. And I don't know if its available outside the US - but he might be in the, there you go.

I have nothing for anyone else, sorry :-)

Welsh Girl said...

So, the returnable mother in law... That requires a certain panache. Kaytboo may have already solved the dilemma but as an alternative suggestion go for the 'surprise - we've planted a plant in your garden for you!' option. It would be worth it just to see if she digs it up again to try and return it.....

Pochyemu - For DIY demented fathers I'd suggest a two day course on some obscure element of diy like Lime Plastering, or dry stone walling. It'll keep him occupied and give him lots more to do with his new skills when he returns home.... Plus it's easy to wrap and take on a plane!

For the Jolly Green Giant - there is a book on Amazon called 'create your own graphic novel' - that has to keep him busy for YEARS!!!

Easily Offended Sister - I have TWO of these, and my heart bleeds for you with this dilemma. Obviously, nothing beats the squirrel earrings but if anyone comes up with any ideas, then I'm going with them too since I'm totally stuck for chutney mary, my neurotic, diet obsessed sister....

Must go now or I may be tempted to get the earrings.....

littleanomaly said...

Perhaps a Willie Warmer for the JGBIL? You can get them on Ebay.

I can't imagine how mohair feels on a guys balls...

Waffle said...

Ah, that's a bit better. Well done Alyson and Welsh Girl for proper good ideas. I love the idea of chutney mary. She sounds, um, fun?

Little anomaly, you are full of badness. You can come again and again.

Also, people, I have a cracking present clinic entry for next week. It will be GOOD.

Pochyemu said...

@ Alyson - that's a good idea - I"m going to check it out. Plus he's in America so that works out well.

@Welsh Girl - This is also quite clever, although I'm pretty sure he knows how to do both of those things...He did dry stone wall the edges of our driveway, among other things...

Grit said...

i am in total and utter shock with the photo. i'm printing that out large and sticking it on the back of the toilet door.

Waffle said...

Grit - which one?!

The Spicers said...

Please forgive me Jaywalker, if my failure to comment sooner has in any way affected your self-worth!
I LOVE the adopt-a-hideous-pig idea. Even a pathological gift-returner couldn't be so heartless as to reject such a creature.
Good suggestions, all.

Anonymous said...

The custom squirrels are unbelievable - I shall have to get one and put it away for my brother in law, he specialises in utterly tasteless gifts (eg 3 foot model of a policeman mooning).

I was thinking of a goat for my father in law (he has everything so it is that or a couple of bottles of whisky) but I like the ugly pig thing much more.

WV is reiven - how I feel after half an hour of being force fed christmas carols while shopping

bonnie-ann black said...

donating to a charity in the MIL's name is a gift that is impossible to give back. make if for something she would find particularly disturbing... a sheep for some village in iran or iraq; or a contribution to some fund to give books to prison inmates! (erin at dress-a-day is actually collecting for such a charity).

carolinefo said...

Bloody hell. A three-headed pink sparkly vibrator?

Struggling to deal with this concept, but have just remembered that Cerberus had 3 heads. Entirely irrelevant though that is.

Why didn't we get a picture of the penis? I haven't seen one for ages. Is it special?

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