You know the feeling.
You have been looking forward to Father’s Day, Happy Birthday or any day that involves you getting a gift because finally, finally, she will get you something. Your expectations are right over here (points to forehead) and surely, after all these years, she knows you off the top of her head? And if this makes you suspect that the typical man is secretly a diva, you’re right!
But first, let’s cut through the curt slime of excuses the posse of ladies like to give: he’s already bought himself everything he wants, or he has mercurial taste or he is the kind of louche guy who insists, he’s quite happy with nothing at all, as if that’s a viable option. Pains in ass, the lot of them. Asking him if he wants a gift is akin to asking the pope if he is catholic.
You know how this rodeo goes.
Strutting in like a vaudeville villain, who has mastered the spectacular and not the mundane, she walks in, apologizing in gusto, a pack of ties in tow, a watch (with boxers if you are lucky) and an afterthought six-pack of not-even-your-favorite-beer, floating somewhere between authentic and ersatz. It’s almost as if she has built a moat on your finances.
Your mama raised you right so you will wear that poker face you have practiced throughout your life. Your feelings are clearly hurt but you are a hard man, a modern man. You got this. You wonder if she is trolling you with manicured vitriol and that Cheshire cat smile that at times gives way to raw-nerve rage, rendered in scorched earthy language. It’s the thought that counts but come on, you are feeling a bit undervalued here. Is this it? It’s like a novelty act, an honor with no clear meaning, a gift with an asterisk. If not quite a moat, then a village in the woods.
You know, there’s always that one man in the family or WhatsApp group. Gifting this man is filed under the same hardship level as baptising a Maasai cat. Thoughts of his life in your head are placated with things. Cool things, too. In your head, he’s surrounded by technology that looks like it could run governments, apparel that looks like a mainstay of Paris Fashion Week, and ostentatious heirlooms that look like they’d tempt Indiana Jones. He’s got it all. The trick is finding him a once-in-a-lifetime gift, likely impractical but highly memorable, something that he would but couldn’t get. That man, is not you.
You? You are a simple man. The kind of man who cuts across the grass and could not be bothered with the path. You want a thoughtful gift. Something that no other man has. Something like a harp. Mark Twain said the least-liked instrument on earth is the harp. There isn’t one famous harpist. Do you know any famous harpists? Name one famous harpist. David does not count. Harps are not exciting. That is until these people snake their way into heaven where if they’re good, they get harps twenty-four hours a day. Imagine that. It’ll be over for everyone else.
You are happy. You are sure she remembered it was about time she got you a gift during her Chama meeting. She has been promising to surprise you but she has always surprised you by how unsurprising her gifts were. Not this year.
But what does the male want? Can you imagine what it must be like to go shopping for a gift for the average man? What do you get him on Father’s Day? A third-world island nation? The time-space continuum? A dinner date with Tony Nyadundo, the Obamas, Jesus and the person who invented the thermos flask for tea? What do you get the man who has things, says he doesn’t want things, but would appreciate things—and would definitely feel a way if he didn’t get things? Good question! Unfortunately, he does not want what you want him to want—another suit, another toe-curling happy socks, an anti-snoring pillow. Not this year.
The way to a man’s heart, it has been said (but not by a cardiologist), is through his stomach. But seeing that you are already stuffed, and your cardiologist has sent the alarm bells ringing on your carb diet, really, another lunch date is just not pushing the envelope. You know it’s not a lunch date because she is on a diet. She’s been on diet since the two of you started dating, back in the stone ages, but you never call her out for it. Never mind that she rewards herself with a cheat day every Tuesday.
You want to know what you have gotten for Father’s Day this year but think against it: Will your harp fit in the bedroom? Will you be making a joyful noise for the Lord every morning? It’s Tuesday and that’s her cheat day. Her face has already lost its belligerent pride and has turned once again into a mask of composed, almost wistful sadness. She is sporting her trademark pout. Yeah, it’s definitely Tuesday.
For two hours you pray in a deep voice, until you spend the grace you have accumulated over a lifetime in the insistence of your appeal. Please God, you plead, do something. Another tie will really choke your relationship.
The trick of shopping isn’t that you don’t buy things. You don’t just shop. That means no trawling the sale section of LVMH websites in moments of weakness. And definitely no Terrific Tuesday—we are on diet, Tabitha. It means the carts go into the recycle bin on the theory of out of sight, out of mind.
The things we buy and buy and buy are a snake pit—we own them but they also own us. Like a chunky coat of Vaseline smeared on glass, we can see some figures out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we pass over life’s small details. Like how beautiful your harp will look perched next to her sunset burgundy curtains. It’s a match made straight from the pages of the Bible.
So you pray she doesn’t get you another pair of shorts. Shorts do not accentuate your body. Unless you’re a perpetual bad boy or a hobo, you cannot pull off rocking shorts. Just like everything else that the Kardashians do, people don’t take it seriously at first, but shorts for men should be a no-no, unless you have blinders drooping from each knee that can be drawn to cover your calves in the event of Armageddon. Surely, you could channel the look for less. Besides, what serious man plays the harp in shorts?
You have been disappointed before. You will not be disappointed again. So you send her a Virtual Card from Ecobank, with their hot new e-wallet. You download the Ecobank Mobile app, set a spending limit—because she can spend—dangling a carrot of what you really want. (Hint: A man likes to drive fast, particularly if he has nowhere to go. And, if you have a budget, he’d really appreciate the Rolls Royce of musical instruments—a Rees Harps Special Edition (turner included). It’s like a love letter to your expenditure (the Virtual Card, not the harp). But for you, this is bigger than that. It opens ears. Every time she logs onto the app to access the virtual card, you might hear Gwen Guthrie crooning, “No romance without finance” over your harp chords and believe me, she was in her prime.
You even text her a KQ promo code: KQECOBANK21—you know, so she can finally afford that trip to South Africa under a special discount. Okay, here, we call it deal. Babes don’t like discounts. Babes like deals. And you, because you’re kinda a big deal, what you really want is for her to go shopping, enjoy her Ecobank Virtual Wallet Card and give you the most priceless gift of all. The gift of time. Apart. (To learn your chords. Maybe.)
By: Eddie Ashioya