My parents are impossible to shop for, because they are the kind of people who pride themselves on their cunning ability to survive on bare basics. Out of pure choice. A little bit of background info: my parents are from Communist Russia. They know what it’s like to take a shit outside in a hole for the world to see, and they used to live in an apartment with like, ten other families. When they moved to America, they bought a Chevy for 500 bucks and my mom worked at Pizza Hut before she got her certificate or license in computer programming. My dad went from naval engineering to mechanical engineering to owning a dry cleaning business in downtown Minneapolis. My parents are devoted Toyota Camry drivers. If they go out to eat (which is rare), they split a mushroom burger. My dad’s favorite thing in the world is his pair of hiking pants that have twenty different pockets of all sizes. They are practical, he says, and have a glorious amount of pockets. He wears them every day.
Once, I bought my dad a really fancy ping pong paddle for his birthday. He’s an avid ping-pong player and we always have intense ping pong matches in my uncle’s backyard. When he opened his present, he looked confused and asked me why I would ever gift him with this contraption.
“Uhh..your paddle you use now is starting to peel and get all floppy? Doesn’t that affect the aerodynamics or whatever of ping pong?”
“Aero-SHTO?! (what) Take it back to store. I don’t need it.”
So I did. And instead, I bought him a pair of Puma socks from TJ Maxx my mom said he really prefers over his other socks. My mom is the same way. She’s been wearing the same perfume for over 40 years (Gloria Vanderbilt. It’s getting kind of hard tracking it down these days; I have to go to at least three pharmacies). She rotates five different shirts and they all have some kind of grayish green leopard or paisley print.
Anyway. It’s my dad’s birthday next week, and it’s mother’s day the week after. I found this at the Encinitas street fair: a painting of the highway a few miles away from my parent’s house in Carlsbad, the road he takes to get my uncle’s house. Where he competitively plays ping pong. Recently, I have discovered that if I get my dad a little painting, he actually keeps it and tacks to his wall in his office. I’ve already bought a sketch of Johnny Cash, and an important ship.
One present down, one more to go.