Today I’d like to give you all a heads up on the kinds of things most males like to receive as gifts.
I’m going to throw in my two cents at 55 years old, and also get opinions from my son Charlie, 24, and my buddy Max, 26. So we’re covering two generations.
I think it’s safe to generalize a bit and say that we don’t like a lot of stuff. We like cool stuff that lasts. We break things in and keep them, and for the most part (except for beer), we’re more into quality than quantity. We don’t need closets and dressers full of clothes and shoes. That’s what washing machines are for. We don’t need 5 or 6 colognes or shampoos. We don’t like to make decisions. We want to jump in the shower 7 minutes before we need to leave home. We don’t pack huge suitcases full of shit. We travel light.
Sporting equipment, boats, electronics, and cars give us wood. I was told many years ago that for the feminine gender, if it plugs in, it ain’t a gift. This is not true for guys.
Before you do your gift shopping, consider the stuff we’re suggesting. The response you don’t want is: “Oh honey, that’s so sweet.” What you do want is: “Whoa … Damn!!!” This isn’t tied to how much you spend, it’s what you buy. Granted, there are a few things here that I know I would probably never receive as a gift. Not a snowball’s chance in Hell. But hey, a guy can dream can’t he?
So, Charlie and Maxi are both interesting characters.
Max graduated from American University and also did a year at Trinity in Ireland. He and his 2 best friends decided to have an adventure and pitched in to buy an old sailboat, The Seeker. They spent 10 months restoring and outfitting her and learning to sail. They took off from Panama City, Florida and sailed the Caribbean, Central America and South America for 6 months. They supported themselves working while stopping off; mainly lobster diving in the Bahamas. They sold the boat at the end of the trip in Bocas del Toro in Panama. Max then did a stint in Portugal and Spain as a cycling tour guide for groups of 15 year old kids. He is a modern gentleman and a scholar, wicked surfer, and a fierce snowboarder.
At that time, he had an interest in cooking and a real talent for it. He came to Costa Rica and worked with me at Bella Vista Lodge for 5 months. We had a blast. We got to the point in the kitchen where we really didn’t need to talk. We both knew what was happening and we just looked at each other and nodded. He hit the turn signal and passed me going 120 miles an hour and moved to L.A. less than a year ago to be with his sweetheart Anna and is working as a personal chef. He just landed a job at Gjelina, arguably the hottest restaurant on the west side.
The fruit of my loins, Charlie, is a lot of fun. He is also a renaissance man like me. He doesn’t know what he wants to do yet—two years of school finished—so he does everything. He does boat design and boat building. He’s a corporately sponsored tournament sports fisherman. He works on all facets of home construction. He’s been a charter captain, chef, catastrophe insurance adjuster, marine mechanic, commercial fisherman, and stone crabber.
He spent 8 months with me in Costa Rica helping with the Lodge. We had some serious adventures there that I’ll talk about another time … funny. The boy became relatively famous down there. (Anyone reading this from Dominical is doing an eye roll about now, guaranteed.) He now lives in Cortez, Florida with the lovely Captain Charlotte and his pal Jack, a blue and gold macaw with a drinking and swearing problem.
Gift that Guys Want: According to Max
3:31 AM via Gmail
Okay, advice for buying gifts …
Enriching experiences or things that he can use, that show that you get him. Do lots of research and comparisons before you buy anything. Here’s a glimpse into Max’s mind: (Note from Bert: His mind is a scary place to be.)
- A month’s membership to a climbing gym or to some sort of different and engaging exercise.
- If he likes tennis, get him squash lessons.
- If he likes to run, goggles and a month at a place with a pool.
- Fencing lessons? Martial arts? Beach volleyball league? Softball? Softball is boring, actually, but I’m just brainstorming here.
- Knife bag – I cook professionally, so I need to be able to fit all my tools in a dedicated knife bag. I need something rugged but simply and thoughtfully designed.
- Surfboard – I’m looking for a rocket shape or retro fish, but it’s damn near impossible to buy the right surfboard for me, unless you’ve been surfing with me quite a bit. Steer clear of items like this.
- Hoodie and gloves for surfing in cold weather: Ripcurl, O’Neill, Quiksilver
- A cool t-shirt: Salty Beards or Blood Sweat and Beards. I’m a food nerd, so a shirt with a picture of a romanesco on it would be a good gift for me. (Note from Bert: He really is a nerd. For anyone not familiar with something this obscure, a romanesco is a member of the cauliflower and broccoli family. Its spiraled buds form a natural approximation of a fractal, meaning each bud in the spiral is composed of a series of smaller buds. (Remember the Fibonacci sequence from school? The spirals follow the same logarithmic pattern.)
- 4-way stretch boardshorts with pockets, at least one of which is a zipper pocket. Hurley, Volcom, RipCurl are good places to look. I might be an extreme case, I’ll admit, but someone gifted me a pair that I wore 5 days per week for more than a year. So what if you can see the outline of my penis when I sit down? (Note from Bert: He’s pretty proud of that thing. I have to admit, it did cause quite the ruckus in Costa Rica.) You’re almost naked when you’re at the beach too. (He surfs naked when he can get away with it.)
- A sweet backpack: Lots of pockets, ideally waterproof. See Surf to Summit’s Grey “Mariner Dry Bag.”
- Sexy underwear for yourself is a gift for both of us.
- A little jar of cannabis sativa, papers, and a lighter.
- SCUBA certification class.
- A professional one hour massage.
- Camping trips usually make for good times if you bring weed, fruit, and beers, but otherwise don’t prepare adequately.
- Leather-working classes for the both of you, enough classes to actually make something useful.
- Homemade chocolate bark or mango guacamole … or whatever. After all, the door to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Gift that Guys Want: According to Charlie
12:11 PM via telephone
Chaz: Dad what the hell? I’m pulling traps right now. I’ll call you back when I’m cooking claw.
Me: Okay. Think about what I asked you last night and I’ll talk to you in a few hours. Really give it some though, okay?
Chaz: WTF? I’m busy here. TTYL! (beep, hang up.)
3:42 PM via telephone
Chaz: Okay, come on over.
So, arriving to the smells of cooking stone crab claws, I walked around behind the house and Charlie had the big kettle going on the gas-jet burner. Jack had been on the boat, riding on the winch used to pull the traps. Now he’s on a perch holding a claw in one foot. He stops dining long enough to look up and say fuuuuuuuck!
Now Charlie is not overly in touch with his sensitive side, but he is kind, generous, and funny. Oh, good lookin’ and smart too. He gets me a cold beer and looks at me like I’m a moron and asks me if I have something to write with. He stirs the crab claws with a paddle and starts rattling off a list of stuff he wants.
Chaz: Ok, now Charlotte and I work together and live together. We like the same stuff so there’s no big mystery with us. She’s into jewelry and clothes and stuff but she would be just as happy as I would be with the ideas I’m giving you now. She’s a captain for commercial boats and sport charters … asking me about this is kind of dumb but I’m going to try.
Let’s start with a killer boat—32’ Offshore Contender Tournament powered with twin Yamaha F300 4.2 Lt 4 stroke V6 engines. Let’s go with Furuno NavNet TZtouch electronics, and a Bose sound system. Then I want a gas motor blender that attaches to the bow with suction cups. It runs on like a chainsaw motor and it’s called a Daiquiri Whacker. Cool. We’re gonna need Shimano Reels and Star Rods. I want an ice machine too. Don’t know where the hell we’ll put that.
Then we’ll need Grunden foul weather gear. Xtratuf Boots, Columbia shirts because they breathe, good hats, and a killer cleaning station with serious knives.
Me: Jesus, Charlie you don’t want much do ya? What are we hanging at about $300K? I mean—I thought you would be giving me ideas about your favorite cologne or some place you’d like to go for a weekend or something …
Okay, at this point Jack drops his crab claw and breaks into a cackling laugh that ends with a smoker’s hack cough. The bird’s comedic timing is impeccable.
Chaz: Hey you said you wanted to know what I think. Screw it. If you’re going to go, go big …
That’s my boy.
Now I was going to throw in my ideas too, but these two have worn me out. Also, I’m kind of funny about getting gifts. I like giving them more than getting them, so I’m going to bow out for now.
Have a good one. Over and out.