One of the greatest responsibilities of my job as a retail assistant is to select gifts for men to give their girlfriends/wives/mistresses for birthdays, anniversaries, or just because. More often than not, let’s say 95% of the time, men come into the shop without a clue: “I want to buy my wife earrings.” “Oh, lovely! I assume her ears are pierced?” “I’m not quite sure. Does it matter?” “Yes, it matters somewhat. Perhaps a necklace?” “Okay. Although she doesn’t have a neck.”
The shop in which I work is hugely popular. It is the city’s premier destination for men without any idea what women want (in other words, all men). We sell home-wares, jewellery, scarves, artwork, Mexican candy skulls, hand-beaded African warriors, and everything between. This abundance of products makes decision making all the more difficult, and my job all the more important. Over 2.5 years, I must have single-handedly selected the gifts for some 1000 plus women on behalf of their incompetent male partners. Sally/Beatrice/Helga – if it weren’t for me, you would have received a wooden mortar and pestle, a plastic, glow-in-the-dark ring, and a miniature ukulele for your respective birthdays this week, and your relationships may well be over. Just yesterday, I had to talk a tall man named Geoff out of buying his wife a literal iron for their sixth year wedding anniversary. “You see, Geoff, I think the idea is to give your wife something beautiful made from iron, as opposed to, well, an iron.” Assuming Geoff gave his wife a plank of wood for their fifth year anniversary, how he reached the sixth is beyond me.
The remaining 5% of my job as a retail assistant involves dealing with unappreciative wives/girlfriends/bitches returning these gifts. Beautiful pieces of jewellery are exchanged for plates, embossed leather-bound photo albums are exchanged for a spoilt daughter’s birthday present, and expensive silk scarves are returned for store credit. It breaks my heart. “I don’t know what Brian was thinking. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this.” “Jack never gets it right. Bless him.” “He must be joking. What on earth am I supposed to do with this silver bracelet?” Poor guys. How are they expected to know what their women want, when no woman appears to know what women want? It’s a lose-lose situation, proving that money can’t buy happiness, and it certainly can’t buy love.
Don’t get me wrong – some men get it right. Last week a charming tradesman came in after work to buy his girlfriend a little gold charm engraved with the words “Marry Me.” I’m sure I embarrassed him with my squeals of excitement and tears of happiness. There I was, thinking romance wasn’t dead, when he asked about our refund policy. I smiled, thinking he was joking, only to discover that he was in fact quite serious. I handed him the beautifully wrapped charm and his tax invoice, in case of ‘change of mind’ circumstances.
Madonna was right; we are living in a material world. So here’s a message to my male readers: buy your bitch flowers, give her a hug and a kiss and tell her that you love her. And to my female readers (myself included): quit complaining and be thankful that somebody loves you.
And a final message to my future boyfriend: diamonds are a girl’s best friend.