The Yearly Headache — My Old Man’s Birthday

My dad loves being acknowledged to the max on his birthday. If any family member fails to come through with a gift, he makes no secret of his disappointment. This is especially impressive since no effort is made to return the favor when the next family birthday rolls around.

I’m never sure what to get the old man. He’s tough to buy for, despite being a typical guy who loves beer, old cars, grilling, having a few brewskis, sports, work, drinking beer and sailing.

Each year, I think I’ve got “the” gift. A few years back, I ran to every department store in the area trying to find a black button down shirt in his size. Generally a white shirt kind of guy, I thought a few of pops’ suits and ties would look nice with a trendy black shirt. To be sure, I asked him. He seemed to like the idea. I’ve seen him wear it twice and it was given to him five years ago. Apparently he just liked the idea of getting a gift.

Anything to do with sailing is a sure bet. I once purchased a plaque for his sailboat with some wise remark about the captain needing overhauling. He seemed to get a kick out of it and promised to put it in his boat by the end of summer. I haven’t seen the plaque since.

For his next birthday, taking a rest from making creative attempts, I picked up a case of Budweiser. Not bothering to wrap it, I handed it over with a homemade card and a hug. For the rest of the weekend, he drank nothing other than Busch beer. The Bud was surely consumed at some point. He likely offered it to visiting friends.

Last year, noticing his swim trunks looked a little worn, I spent a good chunk of change on a pair of smashing Nautica board shorts. What else could a sailor want? Surely, since most weekends are spent on the lake, these would get worn at least once per summer. The old pairs were proof that shorts were something he’d use. They fit him perfectly!

Well, good thing they still have the tags on them. Maybe he won’t notice if I wrap them and give them to him again this year.

But I really do think I’ve got it this year. A combination of all three previously failed gifts, this present, a shirt with a quote about beer, is bound to become one of his favorites. Hopefully one of his favorite T-shirts, but at this point, I’d even be content with the shirt becoming one of his favorite grease rags.

Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.