Importance of Other Sex Clouds Yuletide Spirit
Gifts for Males Can Be Normal
Rallying to the rescue of shopping-silly Radcliffe and Wellesley maidens of fifty years ago. The Ladies' Home Journal of December, 1897, suggested that they buy or make for their men friends 'crocheted lamp shades, a sponge bag, or a crimson flannel banjo case."
With every passing Yule since grandpa was a sophomore, the suggestions have become wilder.
This year, the girl, who listens to the tipsters will come up with a gift-wrapped riding crop with handle made of deer-antler, lash of red leather, and ferrule of silver--if she doesn't fetch home something worse. Something worse is apt to be a wicker basket filled with small cakes and scented soap, each wrapped in chamois; Somaliland leopard and suede slippers, a nylon umbrella with an imported handle, or a book titled "Sporting Architecture."
Sticks, Decoys, and Bread Boards
Suave salesmen will describe to her the merits of an English shooting stick. They will talk up the all-purpose economy of a hand-carved duck decoy which, used for hunting in season, doubles as a door stop in winter, spring, and summer. On their shelves also is a cellophane-wrapped circular bread board, strapped to which are a bottle of sherry decorated with a bunch of grapes, a wedge of cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread.
A shooting stick might be restful for long waits outside the H. A. A. ticket office. The hand-carved duck could be sailed in a bathtub. The sherry, grapes, cheese, and bread may be, as the circular puts it, "just the gift for midnight cocoa parties in the dorm." But of all these items, and such others as a cerise-and-yellow Tattersall checked waistcoat, a set of Chinese checkers, dominees and dice encased in tooled leather, and a solid-gold hunting knife for skinning the game in field or forest, fifty Harvard undergraduates chosen at random offer a negative estimate. In fact, they say, "Phooey."
Forty nine of the fifty questioned this week listed gifts that any woman can buy almost anywhere. Argyle seeks, preferably hand-made and in colors not too blinding, got a sweeping majority of votes. Albums of classical or jazz records finished second. Books were third, equipment useful in pursuit of sport or hobby--tees for the golfer, flash bulbs for the photographer same next, and a dozen voters were ready to settle for a picture of the girl. The fiftieth man held for the woman herself.
The one common objection was voiced against neckties. "Something happens to women when they go looking for them; they can see nothing but blood-and-thunder patterns," growled one victim 'who was outfitted like a huckster last December 25. Minority factions declared themselves against magazine subscription, searves, and most jewelry.
Gifts of tobacco were ruled acceptable if the girl is not likely to lose her sense of discrimination in the heady atmosphere of a tobacconists. "I mean, I don't want cut plug because it happens to come wrapped in fancy ribbon," said a voter earnestly, champing on the stem of his T.D.
A bizarre present that found favor in 1946 was a sequence of fourteen sonnets lettered in Old English, and illuminated, on a sheet of parchment. What gave a fillip to the toil that went into the manufacture of the gift was the fact that each sonnet described an outing or incident the Middlebury giver had shared with the Harvard recipient.
Married students escape the hardships of the single. "My wife gives me shirts. She knows my collar size and sleeve-length," one said. "She gives me books, too. She has watched me pore over the Book Review of The New York. Times every Sunday, knows what I want, and will buy nothing else." A pledge no less solemn than that of the marriage ceremony itself binds this wife not to select a necktie for her husband unless he is standing within three feet of her.
If the secret disclosed by the poll were framed and hung over the writing desk of every women about to select gifts for a Harvard undergraduates, it would read: "Don't overlook the obvious."
The man who gets a hand-made pine rack lined with small jars of herbs would probably prefer aspirin. A camel's hair bathrobe at upwards of $100.00 not only would represent its North African parents after falling to the floor a couple of times, but would also be no more happily received than half its weight in Camel's. As a book, "Sporting Architecture" is, to Harvard men, worth only the number of Hymarxes if can be traded for.
Although perhaps lacking the personal touch, a gift that will warm the cockles of any male heart is a product indigenous to Kentucky, particularly pleasant when wrapped in Christmas ribbon and bottled in bond. In short, whoever you may be, offer not badfnerle.