The Great Christmas Vacuum, Charlie Brown


Okay, I’m going to ask your advice, Daddy Drinks readers, and I’m hoping you can steer me down the right path like the North Star steered the Three Wise Men so long ago.

I’m on the verge of buying my wife a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas. My question is, will this purchase secure my place on the long list of clueless husbands who got their wives terrible, thoughtless Christmas presents, or will I be celebrated across the land for choosing such a practical gift that puts a premium on household cleanliness?

I can remember my own father’s foray into really thoughtless gifts. Tires for the car. Speakers for the Hi-Fi. I think he gave my mom a chainsaw once. Am I doomed to repeat this terrible gift cycle?

Sidenote: The kids have spent the last week “practicing” for Christmas. They go around the house wrapping random shit up and giving it to each other. Remote controls, forks, pillows. It’s cute as hell. 

Now wait, before you answer, you should know that I do all of the vacuuming, so technically, the vacuum would be for me. So, I guess the real present for my wife here would be well-vacuumed floors, but that’s hard to wrap, so I’ll give her the vacuum and tell her that her that the vacuum represents well-vacuumed floors. No, an entire year of well-vacuumed floors. How about that? Maybe I’ll even write a cute card that puts the notion of clean floors into a sonnet. What rhymes with vacuum?

Does that information make the vacuum a better present for my wife, or a worse present?

I know, it’s a tough call. There’s no easy answer here. Let’s do a quick pro/con list to get to the bottom of this predicament.

Con: The Vacuum is a Bad Present For My Wife and I am an Idiot

1)   It looks nothing like the black boots or jewelry that my wife has asked for.

2)   Let’s be honest, even with a state of the art vacuum, the house will still be a wreck when my wife gets home from work because I have two 4-year-olds who behave like chimpanzees and literally throw banana peels on the floor.

Pro: The Vacuum is a Great Present and I am a Great Husband

1)   It’s a really sexy looking vacuum. It’s really more of a race car than a vacuum. I think it even has Bluetooth. (Scary thought: is this what stay at home dads buy when they suffer from a mid life crisis? Expensive, European vacuums that they don’t need?)

2)   Christmas is suffering from all the commercialism that surrounds it and what we need to give each other is genuine experiences and good will. Giving my wife a floor free of dog hair and banana peels is the closest my we’ll ever come to finding world peace. How can I deny her world peace?

Shit. It’s a tie. Help me Daddy Drinks readers. Help me.

Thank You, Socially-Inept Grocery Bagger Person

A note of thanks to the 16-year-old grocery bagger at the Ingles check out line who felt the need to tell me how “twisted” he got on paint thinner the night before…in front of my children. Thank you for being a cautionary tale that I can hold up to my kids and say, “see kids, you shouldn’t huff household products.”

And to the other grocery-bagger person, the young lady who, on a separate occasion, took several minutes to explain in excruciating detail how she only drinks bottled water, not that crap from the tap. And how she’d like to buy a Brita filter for her sink, but then everyone in the family would use it, even to wash the dishes, which is just stupid, and expensive, and she can’t afford that, to buy filtered water for washing the dishes, so she’ll just keep drinking the bottled water. The carbonated stuff, not that crap spring water. Thank you. Thank you for being a brief distraction from the normal check out line chaos, where my children systematically lick every single pack of gum, magazine, and knock-off Match-Box car in the “impulse buy zone.” Thank you.

Most people would simply mumble, “great, and you?” when I ask, “how are you doing?” But not you, Socially Inept Grocery Bagger Person(s). Not you. You seize the opportunity to really connect with me, a stranger who will be out of your life as soon as you finish double bagging every single item in the cart. And thank you for that, too, the compulsive double bagging of absolutely everything. Not just the heavy items, like milk, but the light ones too. Even the four-roll of toilet paper, which weighs maybe 10 ounces and has no sharp edges. As an amateur who occasionally dabbles in bagging, I’d put the toilet paper in a single plastic bag, but not you. You’re a professional, so you double bag it, going that extra step, using up an entire dinosaur in the process. Thank you. You’re awesome. Never change.

Ikea Is The New Spanish Fly

Is it weird that I get turned on by organization articles? You know, “50 Ways to Color Coordinate Your Closet!” or “Stop Looking For the Peas: Three Ways to Organize Your Pantry!”  There’s always an exclamation point–the most phallic of punctuation marks. Forget sexy coeds, give me a two-page glossy spread of built-in bookshelves organized alphabetically any day.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out why I go gaga for organization. People are turned on by what’s foreign to them, and there’s nothing more exotic to me than order. I have none in my life. Lunch meat is stashed in the couch cushions and dolls end up in the crisper drawer. Recently, during a single 12-hour period, my daughter started a small napkin fire at the kitchen table, my son sneezed in the spaghetti sauce I was making, and I was peed on three times.

So yeah, sock drawers that actually close and have socks in them get me hot. It’s really not that weird, is it? I’m not sure if there are others out there like me. I tried Googling “sex fetish” and “organization bins”—you don’t want to know what popped up. But I am sure that there’s a beautiful place for people like me to go. It’s called Ikea. And it’s soooo dirty.

My wife and I recently ditched the kids and drove three hours to the Atlanta Ikea to buy a new wardrobe. As soon as my 2.5-year-old daughter developed an appreciation for purple dresses, she took over my closet and I’ve been storing most of my clothes in the trunk of the car. Anyway, the new wardrobe is the Asplund: three doors, one mirror, five adjustable stacking shelves, a 30-inch clothes rail, and self-closing hinges…sweet Jesus! It gets me so worked up the Asplund may as well come with nipple clamps and a safe word!

And Ikea is full of shit like this. Entertainment centers with dedicated DVD slots, book shelves with glass doors and mounted lights, dressers with sock dividers. Do you know how exciting sock dividers are? If I had sock dividers, my gym socks would never have to touch my dress socks! How hot is that?

For me, a walk through Ikea is like a walk through Amsterdam’s Red Light District. If only I had the money to truly indulge! I picture my house decked out in organizational bins, cubbies, and folding tables that hide remote controls and magazines. I mean, look at this picture:

Don’t those neatly stacked books and rolling storage bins make you want to rip your clothes off and roll around on the floor? And this picture really gets me going: 

Jesus Christ, are those kitchen cabinets Brazilian waxed or what!

Alas, I’ll have to make do with the Asplund wardrobe for now, which sadly, has already been soiled by my kids who have decided it’s a great place to stuff their Tonka Trucks and play hide and seek.

Dare to dream. Dare to dream.

Organic Schmorganic

Here’s my beef with organic grocery stores: They’re filled with people who aren’t in a hurry.

The success of my day hinges on the fact that every other person I’m gonna encounter during the course of that day is running just as late as I am. The other drivers on the road, the teller at the bank, the washing machine repairman, the mothers at Story Time…the whole world needs to have the singular goal of getting through the task at hand and moving on to the next line in the to-do list. It’s as simple as that. And it all falls apart when I have to “dash” into the organic grocery store at the bottom of my neighborhood for an emergency six pack of beer…er, uh, gallon of milk.

Because this is the one place in 21st century America where nobody is in a hurry. Everyone is content to simply “enjoy the moment,” which sounds fantastic until that beatific state of being comes between you and making it home to set your DVR to record Vampire Diaries in time.

These people mosey between aisles and contemplate the ingredients of soup. It’s soup. Sodium and water. That’s it. Just get the cheapest chicken noodle like the rest of us. And to the dude with the ukelele slung over your shoulder–stop lingering over the cheese samples. It’s not a buffet. And when the check out girl asks you how you’re doing, don’t give a thoughtful response that links your mood with the current state of alternative energy subsidies. Just buy your $30 worth of locally-sourced pimento cheese and get on with your day, kind sir.