Shopping for the mother-in-law

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Some lamebrain thought it would be a great idea to send Joe Sixpack shopping for a Christmas gift for the mother-in-law.

Right.

Why not just cut off my thumbs?

A gift for the ol’ battle ax? That’s the wife’s job!

But lamebrain’s the boss.

Faced with cold-hearted marching orders, there was only one thing a red-blooded man could do.

I spent the afternoon at the bar.

I mean, what d’ya expect when you ask a guy to shop for a mother-in-law? And what do you buy her anyway?

A doily?

I could just imagine the scene at the department store. (And, by the way, before I continue, has anyone noticed that Wanamaker’s is gone? )

Anyway, it goes like this.

Me: I’m shopping for my mother-in-law.

Beautiful salesgirl with heavy red lipstick and wonderbra: Hahahahahahahahahahaha. . .

Me: Seriously, I’m. . .

Her: Hahahahahahahaha. . .

Forget it.

I immediately headed to the new Irish bar on 17th Street, the Black Sheep. A pint of ale and a Bushmill’s put me into a reflective mood.

The guy with the Guinness looked liked he’d listen.

Me (slurring slightly): Y’know, there are some things you just don’t ask a guy to do. . .

Guinness: Right on, brudder. . .

Me: Like, the other night, the l’il woman asks me to watch figger skatin’ wid her.

Guinness: Yo, you check out the legs on that Tonya Nakamichi-a-call-it?

Me: Seriously – you can’t ask a guy to watch the Icecapades. We just don’t do that. You can’t ask us to hand-wash our underwear. We do not cry at movies. We do not drink wine spritzers. And we certainly do not go Christmas shopping for the mother-in-law.

Guinness: Wha. . .You’ve gotta go shopping for. . .Hahahahahahahaha!

Me: Nudder whiskey, please.

You see, the problem with shopping for your mother-in-law is that it is the ultimate lose-lose proposition. If it’s a lousy gift, the mom will only assume her daughter married a loser. If it’s a nice gift, your wife will be all over you: “You never buy me anything that nice! “

It’s not like I didn’t try.

I tried all the finest shops: Home Depot, CVS, Pep Boys, the OTB, the Dollar Store.

Time was running out.

Stores were closing. The Parking Authority was towing on Walnut Street.

And then I saw a line of guys at 15th Street. This must be the place. I stood and waited. It wasn’t until I got inside that I saw the sign:

Phil Herman’s Cigar Shop.

Never mind. I told the cashier I needed something for my mother-in-law.

How much you spending? she asked

Thirty bucks.

Her ya go, she said.

It’s not much, but it’s the best I could do: A carton of Newports and two lottery tickets.

Merry Christmas, Ma.

Love, Joe Sixpack. Your son-in-law.

-30-

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