An invitation to a wedding invokes more trouble than a police court summons.
– William Feather
I made the mistake of mentioning (mumbling, actually) to my wife that I had a wedding to go to in a couple of months.
She sprang into action like a German shepherd chasing a hamburger Frisbee, demanding I reveal my dozen or so considerations on wedding gifts.
“I doubt they need anything. I’ll just show up,” I responded assertively ... mumbling actually.
“You HAVE to give them something,” she said in a tone sharp enough to trim a hedge.
I smiled and nodded with the sincerity of an Iranian nuclear negotiator and beat it out the door.
I chose the manly retreat option because I’m not so good at wedding gifts.
The very first wedding gift I went out and bought with my own money in the mid-1970s came from the old Sam Solomon store on Washington Road. You know, where Stein-Mart is now.
It was two framed picture-paintings of African lions – a boy lion and a girl lion. They were mostly brown and tan and had those shiny, silver-colored tubular frames popular during the Gerald Ford administration.
I was pretty proud of my purchase.
Even today I think back on that carefully chosen and lovingly wrapped expression of sincere affection and wonder to myself: “How quick before it ended up in a yard sale?”
So many people made fun of the lions, however, I changed my approach when the next wedding came up, which back in those days seemed more common than today.
That’s when I shifted to steak knives. In fact, for years I could be counted on to deliver a couple’s cutlery if they ever decided to tie the knot.
This practice, however, diminished with my appointment as The Augusta Chronicle’s night police reporter.
Steak knives, as any journalist can tell you, only get mentioned in newspapers when their participation in a domestic dispute is dealt with by law enforcement.
I did not want to think I had any part – even a small one – in a homicide, so I gave up knives and shifted to softball bats.
No, really. This was a pretty big deal back in the ’70s because they had just come out with metal bats. They were kind of expensive and everyone wanted one. I played a lot of ball back then, and as my teammates wedded I came through.
But then someone pointed out metal softball bats were probably as dangerous as steak knives.
“Not the way most of my teammates hit,” I responded, but I saw the point and switched to extension cords.
Don’t laugh. Extension cords are practical, useful, and, this is important, can be purchased quickly at most convenience stores on the way to the church.
For years I gave extension cords at every wedding. But that proved not to be as popularly clever as I thought it would be.
Speaking of clever, for a few years in my smart-aleck 30s, I didn’t give any gifts. I would just leave a very small white card tucked inside a formal-looking envelope on the bride and groom’s over-stacked reception gift table.
“Hope you like this!” I would write nicely. Then sign my name.
Well, naturally, they thought my card had been on a gift and had fallen off. Because they couldn’t figure out which gift, they didn’t try, sending me a nice thank-you card a month or so later.
I liked the gift-less card approach very much, but I made the mistake of revealing it to my wife, so I don’t get to do it anymore.
Which is why I give towels.
You can’t go wrong with towels. Everybody can use towels. And, if newlyweds get too many towels, they simply put them in a closet and forget about them for a couple of years. Then when they get them out, the towels are as good as new.
Towels don’t expire. They keep.
They are as useful as steak knives, as practical as extension cords, and they last as long as a softball bat.
Just be sure to tape your wedding gift card really good on the wrapped towel box.
You don’t want it falling off.