What do you get the folks who don’t need anything?
Last week, Wave asked me if I wanted to post something and since we’re all staring down the barrel of the holidays and I’ll wager about half of you haven’t finished acquiring gifts for your various people, I figured this was an opportune moment to share a piece of wisdom someone gave me when I first got to New York City. The biggest problem each year is the gifts for the people you care about but don’t know well. Americans feel honor-bound to exchange presents, but we often don’t have enough information to identify a present that doesn’t…well…suck.
I’m not talking about gifts for kids, who are relatively easy to shop for because their dreams need to be limitless. I’m not talking about family, because anyone you don’t know well enough to choose wisely shouldn’t be getting a random meaningless gift to apprise them of your disinterest. It’s important to remember that the average New York apartment is the size of a postage stamp, so useless crap is not a source of joy and gratitude, consequently gifts and their giving are an annual source of agita and despair ’round these parts. For my money, a present should always be something distinctive which the recipient didn’t know they needed or would never splurge on for themselves.
I’m going to let y’all in on a little known secret in Manhattan gift-giving for hipsters: Dildos and charity…
As a very old drag queen once pointed out to me when I was a wee lad first making my way around gay soirees in the Big Apple, dildos are the perfect ironic icebreaker in a room full of strangers and loose acquaintances. Sex in general makes people so nervous that they often are afraid to even explore the things they want. These are items that many people are too nervous, rushed, or embarrassed to buy. Art, lust, whimsy, comedy, weirdness…all in one package that weds form and function. Translation: perfect gift item.
Dildos are instant conversation starters…endlessly hilarious and entertaining. They come in an infinite array of shapes, colors, sizes, prices, and levels of sophistication. They are visually interesting and almost guaranteed to stand out in a pile of wine subscriptions and grooming gadgets. Plus, you’re most likely giving a gift they’d never have the nerve or time to buy for themselves. Imagine! Your nerve and imagination can let oxygen into the stodgiest party: instant convos, easy jokes, jolly shenanigans…and ongoing utility. Sure, people will gasp and laugh about them…but later after everyone’s gone home the lucky party ends up with a gift that keeps on giving. Masturbation happens. Sex ditto. Humans have orifices, yo! Some of you may be thinking, “I couldn’t possibly.” And yet, I promise you can. In a world of sexual liberation, penis envy should be a myth. Fake boners for the win!
Aside from the obvious in-n-outage, dildos are great for costuming and any number of craft projects. If the recipient doesn’t want to take advantage, they know someone who does. Theatres, film sets, and stand-ups are always looking for dildos because audiences will invariably laugh at a fake dick. Trans* friends may want them for packing. And though he’d never admit to borrowing his wife’s little helper, your uptight asshole brother-in-law may feel like visiting the other church on some dark, desperate night. And if the recipient(s) won’t actually deploy sex toys in their personal lives, dildos re-gift perfectly because they’re easy to store and transport, deeply ironic and practical, endlessly entertaining, and don’t biodegrade.
Even better, dildos exist for every occasion and pocketbook (see above): jelly, pyrex, leather, latex, metal, and more. There are sacrilegious dildos for lapsed Catholics and bizarre alien dongs for adventurous souls. For that smarty-arty friend who stumps you every year, take a look at the sinuous glass jobs that really need to be displayed and lit properly. Or like my friend Anne Tenino, you could even knit or crochet a couple snuggly dildos for bedtime. For the secret Santa in your book club, you could opt for the “Big Dickens” and for your lonely divorcee friend, the high-end “Rabbit” with rotating beads and fluttering butterfly. If you’re feeling flush and extravagant, check out the insane dildo furniture with built-in rocking action.
The only dildo I gave as a gift that didn’t end up cherished, was swiped by another guest at the shower who apparently needed that critter even more. (n.b. I bought a replacement for the bride). And once you’ve broached dildos and the gift is met with pleasure, you can branch out into sex toys of all stripes. Again, they may get twenty copies of the new J.R. Ward, but your gift is almost guaranteed to stand alone. You might be worried about that friendly acquaintance being offended. To that I’ll say: any adult who can’t accept an ersatz wang as a funny/useful gift doesn’t have much wit or deserve much patience. So this tradition doubles as a winter cleaning for your contact list.
Now… obviously you have to be sensible. Not everyone will be able to take the artificial penis you want to bring them. You shouldn’t foist anything raunchy on anyone too fragile, damaged, or innocent to receive it in the spirit intended. Blue-hairs and altercockers may be assiduously pretending their libidos have fossilized and their senses of humor likewise. Professional colleagues may view a faux-phallus as harassment rather than a metaphor for capitalism and oligarchy. And Heaven knows the Bible-humpers prefer other things in their laps.
There are plenty of holes in the world around us that need filling. In case of dildo-phobia, slip a figurative shaft in their stockings or under their Kwanzaa bush: a donation that fucks over evil and injustice…an artificial injection of income that scratches an itch and gets the job done. Like dildos, the charity you choose can reflect passions and a comfortable pricepoint. They are instant conversation starters, and get folks talking about shit that matters. They take up ZERO storage space and they actually improve the world which, after all, is supposed to be the point of the holidays. The world vibrates with causes that could use a helping hand, wide gaps in the safety net that need plugging. There are plenty of social ills and again, you can choose an infinite array of options, sizes, flavors, and prices.
Whether it’s the Heifer Project, Amnesty International, or GLAAD, taking the time to identify and pitch in sends a clear message to the people you want to know better that you pay attention to things that matter, that you put your money where your morals are, and also that you know better than to bury them in tsotchkes and bullshit.
But consider the dildo.