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Is there a writer in your life? Are you struggling to come up with that perfect Christmas gift for him or her?
If so, my condolences, because I'm a writer and I know full well what a morose bunch of budding alcoholics we writers usually are. I'm constantly staring off into space, oblivious to the world around me until the front bumper strikes something solid and the air bags deploy.
Every year, it's the same dilemma. What to give for Christmas? What will make your writer's eyes light up, or at least open halfway?
As usual, I'm here to help. My list of suggestions follows, in order of descending utility.
1) BOOZE. HOOCH. ROTGUT. That's right, kids, the Demon Rum himself. Why? Simple.
A writer's job is to plumb the depths of the human condition, or at least convince a harried editor that he or she is plumbing said depths long enough for the ink to dry on a contract. And the first thing you'll learn when you start taking a really close look at the much-vaunted human condition is that doing so induces a sudden, powerful urge to have a drink. Or three. Or maybe just leave the whole bottle and start running a tab, because right after the urge to drink comes the realization that it's going to be a long bad night.
2) A THESAURUS. Because nothing works better as a coaster for the drinks mentioned above than a really thick book. I'd counsel against actually using a thesaurus for writing, because no one wants to read sentences in which characters advance, meander, promenade, traipse, or wend one's way across the room.
3) A CAT. Hemingway had a cat, right? He had a cat because a cat is the only creature on Earth more vain and self-centered than the average author. While other more social animals might feel neglected or ignored by an author, who is probably staring off into space or rummaging in the cabinets for more liquor, a cat is perfectly comfortable being ignored because it doesn't know anyone else is in the room anyway. The cat's 'I don't care if you exist or not' attitude is perfectly suited to the author's mindset of 'What? Huh? Who?'
4) AN ELEGANT LEATHER-BOUND JOURNAL. We all know that writers, and I mean serious professional writers with book contracts and everything, are always prepared to whip out a convincing character or a heart-wrenching plot at the drop of a dangling participle. So give your author the most expensive, ornate leather journal you can find, wait a year, drag it out from under the whiskey-stained thesaurus, and give it to the writer again. They won't ever know, because each and every page will be as blank as it was the day you bought it. Seriously, people. I tried the whole notebook by the bed schtick for years, and I recorded exactly two notes in it, which read:
"Char. A sees the thing, intro. other scene w/char B, str. exc. Plot hole & 9 days."
"Why G. not cld/not E?"
Which explains why Hemingway's cat had six toes, for all I know. But leatherbound notebooks make pretty good coasters too, and if the glasses sweat on them, you can tell people the stains are from a solo hike through Guatemala which you took to 'reconnect to your muse.'
I don't have a Number 5. You should probably stop at Number 1, because gift-wrapping a cat is nearly impossible and writers can spot a gift wrapped thesaurus from across a crowded room anyway.
I'm kidding, of course. For instance, I'm listing my Christmas Wish List below. If anyone would like to buy me a gift, each item comes with a handy link!
1) A book about airplanes and airports, reasonably priced at only $19,000.
I remember wincing inwardly when I paid nearly 30 bucks for a Harry Potter hardcover. This book is 19 grand and that doesn't include shipping. But it is a hardcover, and word on the street is that Chapter 4 contained scenes of sensual baggage handling so explicit and provocative Jane herself was reluctant to include them in the final edit.
I'll wait for the movie.
2) A simple analog wristwatch, $55,000.
The Rolex Cosmograph. I generally opt for finer timepieces -- Timex is a well-established brand, after all -- but this watch did catch my eye. I assume the maker, Rolex, is an upstart Chinese brand, but all the lads at my club will enjoy a hearty chuckle when I sport such a plebian bit of flash.
Shipping is free, and it comes with a 2-year warranty. Quite the bargain, really.
3) Learn to speak Mongolian, for only $10,000!
Learn Mongolian! Because if you don't, the grumpy lady on the box will come around and beat you with a platter of genuine Mongolian khorkhog. For only ten thousand dollars, you get a cardboard box and a single CD-ROM that will fit in your Mac or your iPod shuffle, as soon as you travel back to 2003 and find your iPod shuffle. Hurry, there's only 1 copy left!
4) A toy robot. This one is a little pricey, at $999,999,999.99. Batteries are also not included, but frankly you can afford a couple of double-A cells if you've got a billion dollars to throw around on anime robots.
The billion dollar robot is named Sakura, which is Japanese for 'I still can't believe Amazon let me list this.' According to the ad copy, Sakura can sing up to five songs, and she also 'records your secrets,' which means she probably blackmails you later.
Heck, get two, so they can at least sing in harmony.