Birthday Gifts for Unusual People

My dad is a strange man. And I have no fear of hurting his feelings in saying that, because he’s the type of guy who takes pride in being strange. I have full confidence that he’ll grin and nod his head in agreement when he reads this.

And he’ll probably be wearing my mother’s sparkly pink reading glasses, because he can never find his own. 

There’s nothing wrong with being different, except for when it comes to those of us who have to buy gifts for Said Strange Person. My dad’s birthday is today, and if you didn’t notice, this day falls quite close to Father’s Day, meaning that each year, I have to figure out two gifts close together in time.

Like many others, I often turn to Google for ideas.

My dad is not the archetypal father that you see in all of the books, movies, and TV shows, and that many of you may have yourselves. He’s not into sports, he’s not a wine aficionado, and I can’t remember the last time I saw him wearing a suit. Therefore, stereotypical gifts of ties, golf equipment, and football memorabilia are just not welcome here.

Neither is a taxidermied deer head, nor one of those “manly” jewelry boxes that holds 10 different watches.

What the hell, Google? Do any dads actually want these things?

When I was a kid, gift-giving was a bit easier. For several years, my present to my dad was a collection of illustrated stories about rogue rats that get into a pot of chili and basically destroy all of our lives – until Dad saves the day.

Don’t be jealous. You too can be the hero of a rat infestation story, if you work hard enough. Dare to dream.

Anyway, since the typical gifts don’t work for my dad, and I’ve outgrown writing rodent stories, I’ve thought long and hard, and come up with some other ideas that may work in the future:

  1. Beard Accessories
    My dad sports a long, Duck Dynasty-esque beard and ponytail. He’s very proud of his Mountain Man persona. Maybe he’d enjoy adding some extra pizzazz to his facial hair now and then? Unlikely, but you never know.
To clarify, this is not my father. Not to my knowledge, anyway.
  1. Dictionary
    My dad likes to take certain….shall we call them, “creative liberties” with the English language.  This is my gentle way of saying that he mispronounces words, and then passionately insists that his pronunciation is correct. It rarely never is. A pocket dictionary might be able to clear up future disagreements.


  1. A Visor Hat that Doesn’t Bear the Name of a Fast Food Restaurant on it, because it Clearly Used to Belong to an Employee of Said Restaurant
    This one’s pretty self-explanatory.


  1. Broken Pile of Garbage
    I’m not trying to be mean – my dad just really likes to fix stuff! I’m thinking I could take a chainsaw to one of my pieces of furniture, and ask him – no, no, allow him to put it back together. Happy Birthday, Dad!
  1. Taxidermied Moose Head
    I know what I said before about a deer head not being appropriate, but this is different because it’s a moose.
    Why? My dad is a member of a motorcycle gang. And by “gang,” I mean a quartet of bearded, middle-aged men who call themselves “The Wild Moose.”

    Or maybe it’s “The Mooseketeers.”

    Either way, I think something like this would be perfect for him:

Again, not my father. Probably. (Macklemore’s “Downtown” music video)


  1. A New Jacket. Or just a Jacket that isn’t Older than His Adult Children
    Again, somewhat self-explanatory.
  1. Book of Campfire Songs
    On their unruly gang trips, The Wild Moose go camping, and sometimes sing songs around the campfire. It’s adorable. (Dad would probably be offended by my use of “adorable” here, though, so I’ll amend that to say that his band of rebel farmers is super tough and masculine. Nothing says “hard” like campfire songs.)


    Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad! (And also Happy Birthday to mah cheese wife, who happens to share her birthday with my strange parent.)



How to House-Sit Like a Boss

If you find yourself house-sitting for a friend, I recommend following these handy tips:

1. Demand piles of money in return for your sitting services. (Piles of presents will also suffice.) 

2. Ensure that your friend adequately defends these presents from predators. 

3. Take advantage of the friend’s variety of entertainments. 

I love you, Netflix. And I love you too, Kimmy Schmidt.

4. If the friend has pets, make sure they’re still alive at the end of your stay. Dead pets don’t bode well for good friendships.

5. Even though you do need to be nice to the friend’s pets, you don’t have to allow the dog to lick your armpits. That’s just a bit too intimate.

Unless you’re into that sort of thing. 

licking her lips as she eyes my armpits

6. Eat all of your friend’s delicious leftovers. Eat more than you can even fit in your body, just because you CAN.

7. Subtly suggest that your friend get a swimming pool installed before your next stay. I recommend complimenting them on their “large, pool-shaped backyard.” 

8. If you don’t have pets of your own, understand that cats are creepy at night. Why all the mysterious noises and activities, cats? Why?  

9. Do 1-2 nice things during your stay: fill an ice cube tray, wipe off the counter, etc. Doing ONE thing establishes you as helpful and ensures that you’ll be asked to sit again. BUT doing more than one thing might make your friend feel self-conscious about the cleanliness of her household. Better to play it safe. 

Have you ever house-sat (house-sitted?) for anyone? What did you like or dislike about this experience? What handy tips can you provide?