You may have noticed, if you were one of the enterprising types who watched USA's underappreciated mentally ill detective comedy Monk and decided to attenuate your senses to super-human levels in order to out-observe and annoy the people who love you most, that today is not Mother's Day. Excellent work. That's your first tip - we're tackling this bad boy before it even begins. Here's your badge back, you sick bastard.
You also may have noticed that the woman in the stock photograph does not appear very old and nosey and bossy and trying to part my damn hair to the left EVEN THOUGH I HAVE MY OWN KID NOW, MOM. I'M A MAN. Ahem. That's by design.
Mother's Day is not really about celebrating moms. It never was. It's actually about paying tribute to the most powerful woman in your life. Remember Grandma's Mother's Day haul? What was it? Some pumpkin seeds and a dirty rock? A horse's head? A note that says "Get out"? Grandma was on the bottom rung of the ladder, and she knew it. That's why grandmas cry when there's a new baby in the family. They know they just got taken down a peg. How ignominious.
Same goes for mom. Her current sad predicament brings to mind one of Mr. Amanda Fucking Palmer's better-known works, American Gods. The chief conceit of the book is that all the gods of all the religions that have ever existed actually do, well, exist. Brought to life by mere belief, the ancient beings Odin, Loki, Anansi and Johnny Appleseed for some reason, among others, have always lived among us as human avatars, hiding in plain sight. But our belief in them is waning, replaced by infatuation with the New Gods of technology and media, and they are becoming less powerful. Your mom is Anubis. Buy for her accordingly.
Get her something middling-to-okay. Anything that's a gift without being a "novelty". I don't know, a basket or something. Hell, get her an ounce of weed. Let her fade into Mother's Day obscurity with a nice buzz. She's had her day in the sun! Don't worry about it.
No, the Mother you really need to be concerned about is your wife. Don't have kids? Don't be a fucking idiot. Buy your wife some flowers. The rest of you? [lights torch, pulls false book on secret bookcase door] come with me.
The Stuff You Shouldn't Buy
1. Bath shit
"You know how, the other day, I said you smelled 'Fine'? Well, it was a clever ruse! Your hygiene is a real problem, so I got you a Lilac Chamomile Bath (Pipe) Bomb, a Rosey Tea Flake Nuclear Salt Scrub, and a Honey Melon Sandalwood Exfoliating Skeleton Wax. Please use these if you plan on touching the children. Why are you crying?"
Not only is this gift offensive, it's willfully ignorant and perhaps criminally negligent. Your wife pays $40 for shampoo to piss you off, sure, but it's also because it's formulated specifically for her hair. You'd know that if you ever bothered to look at the label on the mass-produced grocery store-sold bottle. Her stuff works for her, man, that's why she buys it. Don't try to replace all her products with a last minute shame basket just because all you know about her is that, every night, she disappears into the bathroom for what seems like years except the toilet fan never comes on. Yes, she likes to bathe, but she likes to eat, too - would you buy her a box of steaks? [If so, you're both extremely advanced and your wife is probably reading this with you right now as you both smoke cigars and discuss your shared collection of fine wrenches - that's cool as hell. Grats.]
2. Gift Cards
[five minute long pause]
"Oh, I'm sorry. You know the saying, 'It's the thought that counts?' I was just counting aloud all the thought that went into this awful 6 square inch faux-gift proto-garbage. Next time, make a macaroni portrait and throw it out the window of a speeding car. At least then you'll have to take me out of the house for once."
I wish we could get these things banned or, at the very least, legally require them to be sold packaged in tandem with a card that reads in full, "It was no trouble at all. Seriously, I went through no trouble for this. Tell me how much you like it now." Maybe they should be pretend-issued, like a card in a Capital One commercial, except instead of Lee M. Cardholder, it just says FuckYou I. DontCare. Let's see how many of you brazen idiots pushes your Chili Dollars onto your loved ones, then. Pathetic.
3. Website Flowers
I USED A COUPON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4. Bauble Roulette
I know, you're reading this while you shop, and I've just sent you out of the Bath & Body Works, the checkout aisle at Old Navy, and the local florist you peeked into and had to be stretchered out of when you saw what good flowers actually cost. But do me a favor and also stay out of Hallmark or Kirkland's or whatever banal tchotchke emporium drew you in the the biggest and flashiest Glow Heart Snuggle Bear with Real Growling (KEEP AWAY FROM HUMAN FOOD). Your wife doesn't want this shit.
Do you even have — ask yourself this, openly and honestly — do you even have shelves? Really? Isn't there already a bunch of crap on there for the brief, beautiful moments every day that don't feature a yelping toddler soaring through the air and using effortless flicks of the wrist to snare and liberate each item from its earthly bounds like an applesauce-bedazzled Spider-Man? Why would you want more of that? And even if you did, why would you (or, more importantly, your wife, whom you must remember you are inclined to believe would actually like the cartoonish giraffe sitting in a high chair with a wicked smile on its long, horrid face) want the precious, precious space in your home to be taken up by a crying cherub figurine or a weird family of bears groping at each other? Remember: the more shit you have, the fewer corners you're able to retreat into for safety as your child runs around the ceiling like she's in an Escher painting. And unless you live in a particular sort of hellish, enchanted demon house, your walls aren't moving outward any time soon, so that space is a precious commodity. Don't fill it with maudlin, ceramic regret.
5. Go Buy Yourself Something Nice, On Me
"You know, take the credit card that's issued in both of our names, that gets paid monthly out of our joint checking account, and always sits in both of our wallets, go shopping, but this time, instead of buying a big ham or whatever the devil it is you women love to buy so much, pick up something you'll enjoy like, I don't know, a bigger ham. Go crazy, dear!"
Please do not do this. It is perhaps the worst thing you can do. The only good that can ever come of it would require the authorization rep at Visa to fall asleep at the wheel, allow your poor, stupid, ass the required amount of credit to purchase a speed boat, and you to somehow fall asleep on a pool noodle at the lake as your wife comes whipping around a corner with blood in her eyes and hate in her heart.
It's not a gift because putting a big bow on the air return in the hallway and telling your wife to close her eyes before revealing that this year she can enjoy a cool, crisp 68 degree living room courtesy that same Visa card is also not a gift. Every time she flushes the toilet she doesn't praise Jesus for her giving and loving husband's commitment to paying the water bill every month out of their joint checking account because that ain't a gift either. You're supposed to do those things. Just like you're supposed to give her a Mother's Day gift that isn't a chore, suggestion, or fake money. Try a little harder, you big, dopey turd.
So what should you get your lovely wife on Mother's Day? Well, hell, I don't know. Cook her a meal you know she'll love. Buy her some jewelry if your finances permit it. But not that Jane Seymour stuff!! Spend some time with the old lady, alright? It won't kill you. But if you get her a 7' porcelain gingerbread house and stick a $10 gift cert to Nailz Express in the gumdrop chimney, she just might. Happy Mother's Day. Not you, Grandma.