Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gift Game

In The Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons has a footnote about a freshman gift gone woefully awry. In an apt comparison to the MVP vote for Wes Unseld, he recalls buying a half-dozen roses for a girl with whom he'd made out a few days before. Her reaction to the gift was so negative that he concludes a handful of plutonium would have gone over better; apparently she nearly left treadmarks running away from him.

Now, I once bought Spacebunny an expensive pair of quasi-steampunk designer sunglasses about two months after we met. Not only didn't she object, she was delighted with them and didn't lose any attraction to me as a result.  So why would a cheap gift of a few dollars set off alarms when an expensive gift of several hundred dollars didn't?

Although my SMV at the time was higher than Bill's, remember that it was already established that the girl concerned was at least somewhat sexually attracted to him. And although my SMV was higher, well, SB's was almost certainly higher than Janine Cunningham's too. Because Holy Cross.

The reason, in retrospect, is pretty simple, although I didn't realize it at the time. You see, the reason I was at the store was because I was there buying myself a rather expensive pair of prescription sunglasses, a pair that subsequently drew comments from a game industry magazine.

"Besides sporting the de-rigor all black outfit of a game developer, Theodore sports shades - indoors mind you - that look like they're made out of titanium and probably cost more than the entire budget of the Gamasutra yearly booze allotment."

So, the shades I bought for her were correctly seen as an afterthought, rather than the pressure-inducing bid for commitment they might have otherwise been considered. And, in fact, they were an afterthought of sorts, since I simply thought they'd look cool on her and would kind of match my own ineffably awesome style.

Anyhow, it strikes me that if you want to buy something for a woman, the safest and most effective way to go about it may be buying something even better for yourself first. There is a massive status difference between offering up a gift in supplication and giving one that comes with the implicit message: "yeah, you're going to want to up your game if you're going to run with me."

10 comments:

Conscientia Republicae said...

Where and when were those sunglasses cool?

fc6cedc2-d6a8-11e2-b860-000bcdcb471e said...

I have a similar story. I acquired my mom's books when she moved so I have a lot of old books. Sometime later I had been dating this girl 6-8 weeks and about that time gave her an earlier edition of her favorite book which had come from off my bookshelf. Except, I don't think she realized that and it freaked her out and she ended up returning it the following week when she also ended the relationship.

Badger said...

Was VD dressing for a spot in a Pet Shop Boys cover band?

Conscientia Republicae said...

Sorry, Vox, but you look like an extra in "Bruno".

B.J. said...

When I worked at a bar I was bored one day and made a paper crane out of a receipt. I gave it to a server who I know had a crush on me and she ran around bragging about it and showing it to everyone. Sometime later another guy did the exact same thing only she took his paper crane and threw it in the trash. FYI I think a woman's appreciation for a gift has nothing to do with the gift itself and everything to do with the giver.

Conscientia Republicae said...

Maybe she just likes B.J.

Dexter said...

In retrospect, I cringe at the gifts I have bought for women as part of a program of supplication, whether the gifts were cheap or expensive.

I totally failed to learn the correct lesson from the time I was broke and made my then-girlfriend pay for everything. She grumbled and complained but didn't give me less sex or break up with me for it.

Conscientia Republicae said...

I've had more ass when I was broke than any other time.

LP 999/Eliza said...

Makes perfect sense for most if not all men.

Over the last 10 years transition lenses have really improved. I saw a frame similar to those at the local opt's office. The lowest frame started out in the $400's. If you wanted prescription lenses, the final cost was well over $700.

I got them for dad plus his bi focal lenses, so far he loves them. His transition lenses black out with indoor lighting. Regardless post stroke, he loves those glasses.

Mommy tolerates or dislikes them and says he looks goth. Dad just smiles, he can a shy day or a hide from everyone day indoors. It's a great thing!

Anna said...

Or perhaps a gift like those sunglasses are more appreciated because of the spontaneous nature of the gift. 1. The man was busy doing his own thing. 2. He spies something and thinks that I will like it. 3. He buys it and gives it to me. Ergo, he thinks of me when I am not in front of him, he knows what I like, he will provide me with what I like/need. It is the first that is most important - "he thinks of me when I am not in front of him". Giving the expected gift at the expected time takes no thought, only organization.

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