The Rahooligan: Handing Out Early Christmas Presents

For those of you who don’t know—primarily the hyper-urbanized hipsters who’ve never been in a Wal-Mart or Toys ‘R’ Us—this past holiday weekend featured that ubiquitous post-Thanksgiving materialistic orgy known as “Black Friday.” Thanks to the department stores and shopping center kiosks’ generosity, for one blissful day prices on almost everything are reduced more than 50 percent from their usual 75 percent markup.

In any case, Black Friday is the perfect time to buy holiday gifts (as well as witness the ultimate “Soccer Mom Stampede,” occuring minutes before a store opens that sells Fur Real teddy bears). Usually, I sleep in, since my Christmas shopping consists of Seinfeld-inspired “re-gifting” of crappy birthday gifts—but since my mom wanted somebody to carry her boxes, I trudged along to our local Mega-mall.

Faced with the prospect of milling about for hours while female relatives tried on 10 different sizes of the same shoe, I decided instead to make the best of the trip and take care of my own shopping. And what bargains! I had so much money left over, I went ahead and took care of some other Very Important People’s holiday wishes.

Let me give you a glimpse of what’s under my Christmas tree. But you must promise not to tell any of these folks before the big day…

For Harvard football coach Tim Murphy: a Digital Atomic Wall Clock (sale price $19.99). He’ll want to know exactly how much time there is until the Nov. 15, 2003 game against Penn.

For Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis `68: a copy of the Rolling Stones’ “Hot Rocks” CD ($15.99). Did this man really go to college in the ’60s? If he refuses this gift we’ll know the true answer.

For Harvard women’s volleyball player Kaego Ogbechie: the Toastmaster’s Guide to Public Speaking ($12.57). Just to be prepared, since Harvard’s first Ivy Player of the Year is only a sophomore and will have to give acceptance speeches until 2005.

For Harvard wide receiver Carl Morris: a pack of Crayola crayons ($1.69). The NFL has decided to ban Sharpies, so he’ll need something to sign autographs with after scoring all those TDs.

For Harvard president Larry Summers: a Brookstone 10-motor seat massager ($95), so he can be more comfortable next time he falls asleep at a world leader’s speech.

For former undergraduates Suzanne Pomey and Randy Gomes: Registration at www.fakedegrees.com ($20.95). They at least deserve to have a pretend Harvard sheepskin, or if they prefer, diplomas from European universities nobody can check up on.

For the Harvard women’s basketball team: Ounces of marijuana (street price). The only way the Crimson won’t win the Ivy title is if the players are all high. In fact, they might still win, so I just sweetened the deal.

For the Ivy Council of Presidents: Sam Dworkis’s Recovery Yoga: A Practical Guide For Chronically Ill, Injured and Post-Operative People ($10.59). Now, if they can all find seven free weeks, this exercise program is perfect.

For Iraqi president Saddam Hussein: $200 gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret (he can purchase via the Internet). Saddam, buy your wives something nice on the way out.

And finally, I decided to indulge and buy something, well, for me: The Chicago Manual of Style ($31.50). One of these days, I’ll learn how to write without using curse words.

So even though Black Friday has passed, there’s still plenty of time to pay full price for holiday gifts. Feel free to steal my ideas, though I must warn you—Tower Records is already sold out of “Hot Rocks.”

—Staff writer Rahul Rohatgi can be reached at rohatgi@fas.harvard.edu.