Monday, December 27, 2010

The bitchometer, rubbing your wood,
& other gifts that crack me up

We’re home from our holiday travels, and the big black garbage bag filled with Christmas booty sits in a corner of the bedroom.

It happens this way every year. The newly acquired gifts take awhile to find their way to the appropriate drawers and cupboards, and I’m ashamed to admit we’ve had years where the bag still sits there in April.

But there are always the gifts that find instant usefulness in our daily routine. It may not be the intended use, but it’s sometimes a better one.

Several years ago, my parents bought Pythagoras a keychain that beeps when you whistle. It seemed like a great gift for a guy who loses his keys six times a day, but it didn’t always respond to a whistle. It was also bulky, so it soon got relegated to the hall closet.

While the keychain wasn’t always responsive to a whistle, it was highly responsive to a certain high-pitched tone. You know that tone, ladies – the one your voice develops in moments of intense frustration?

Or as Pythagoras put it, “the bitchy voice.”

The keychain soon became known as “the bitchometer.” The bitchometer might be forgotten for months on end, but the moment Pythagoras and I were locked in a heated discussion and my voice rose a few octaves…


I developed a grudging respect for the bitchometer. While it annoyed me in the heat of the moment, it was a good way to keep my shrewish tendencies in check. I was almost sad when it stopped working.

Though there was no bitchometer in anyone’s stocking this year, Pythagoras got another gift with unintended comedic value. My brother and his girlfriend presented him with a lovely, hand-carved piece of wood that functions like a worry stone. You can hold it in your palm and rub your thumb in the smooth, carved divot to soothe yourself in times of stress or worry.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

The snickers started immediately.

“Wow,” Pythagoras said. “So when I’m having a hard day, I can just rub my wood.”

My mom giggled and held out her hand. “Can I see your wood?”

“The guy who made it is a real wood expert,” my brother added. “Do you know how many different ways there are to rub your wood?”

“Hang on,” I yelled, running for the camera. “Let me get a picture of you holding your wood.”

And on, and on. If you think we ran out of wood jokes in the first five minutes, you’ve never spent time with my family.

When Pythagoras and I arrived home last night after a harrowing drive home over a snowy mountain pass, I went rummaging through the black garbage bag right away.

“Here, honey,” I told him, placing it in his palm. “That was a tough drive. You should really go rub your wood to relax.”

“Thanks,” he said as he took it from me. “That’s a good idea, but I probably should have tried rubbing my wood while driving.”

How have you been enjoying the holidays? Did you get any gifts that had unintended comedic use? Please share.

I should see if my husband needs help rubbing his wood.


Anne Gallagher said...

On a faintly similar note --

My daughter got the Toy Story 3 Yahtzee game. The dice have pictures instead of numbers. The cowboy character is a 'free' side -- if you get him he counts toward your score.

I set up the game, -- On the first roll my 6 year old screams --

"Mommy, I got a Woody!"

Sarah W said...

My three-year old received a family heirloom - my husband's childhood stuffed giraffe.

Atfer much thought, shenamed it Horny and ran over to tell me, while I was on the phone to my parents. "He's horny, Mommy! Mommy! Mommy, he's horny, Mommy!"

My dad paused and said, "Are you celebrating Saturnalia over there?"

Melissa Gill said...

Too funny. My family is so uptight, we don't even have any cute kiddie stories to tell.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

My mom gave my dad a flat screen TV this year for his office. He came in to ask if she wanted his old TV for HER office. "It's an inch wider", he told her. I REALLY don't need to hear my 70 year old parents snicker about that stuff, any more than my children need to hear their forty-something parents guffaw about it.

Harley May said...

Ah...wood rubbing. A Christmas past-time for generations of families to enjoy.

I was surprised with a Kindle! I wrote kingle at first and almost like the sound of that better. I will name my Kindle Kingle.

Love you,


Patty Blount said...

ah, wood rubbing. I can't recall a gift that made everyone snicker, but I do remember a game of Pictionary in which my then twelve-year-old son shouted out "Uvula!" while his grandmother drew a girl singing. When my shocked mother stared at him, then me, then him again, he said, "Nanny, that's the thing that dangles in the back of your throat."

I fell on the floor.

Linda G. said...

LOL! First Pythagoras has trouble holding his own pole, and now he has to contend with rubbing his wood? You guys do have the most interesting holidays.

Sierra Godfrey said...

This is fantastic.

There have been a few objects with unintended comedic value of the inappropriate variety but they have mostly all been toys of my 4 year old's. So, snickered about in private but not in front of the kid, which takes some fun out of it a bit.

Mark Simpson said...

As an official introduction to my Fiance's family, I was graced with their favorite traveling gag gift (parenthesized segments representing my thoughts):

A plastic camouflage jeep (a fine practical vehicle any sensible person would be proud to drive) driven by two bobble-head rednecks (could really be any two of my friends) and a plastic deer strapped to the hood.

When the motion detector is triggered (to my absolute delight) the slain deer's head stands up mouth-moving and they all sing either "Low Rider" or "Sweet Home Alabama".

I know I will be expected to re-gift it yet again, but it might be a year or two before I can bring myself to part with such a fine example of American folk art.


Anne, oh, dear. Did you have to stuff a sock in your mouth to keep from cracking up?

Sarah, if the giraffe's name remains "horny," I predict you're in for a lot more hilarity :)

Melissa, I can think of a lot of adjectives to describe my family, but "uptight" has never been one of them. Kinda happy about that.

Teri Anne, isn't it nice to know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree though?

Harley May, I was surprised with a Kindle for my birthday in August, though his name is "Ken Doll." Maybe they can be friends?

Patty, smart kid you've got there!

Linda G, you'll be pleased to know the arm is healing and Pythagoras is having a much easier time holding his pole.

Sierra, at what point does the 4yo get to enjoy the snickering? I think my parents started us young.

Mark, that sounds like a lovely gift. I hope you treasure it always. Or at least until next week.

Thanks for reading, guys!


Grace Lewis said...

No witty gifts this year, but for the last 3 months we've been living in Vietnam where the currency is dong.

My husband loves living in a country where people love to see him flash his dong. And he doesn't ever get mad at me for blowing all his dong.

The jokes started months before our move, and they are still coming up with new ones.

I wonder what happens if you rub the dong...?

Squeaky said...

just been catching up on your blog from a long absence, and i worry what it says about my sense of humour that this was the only post on which i read _every_single_ comment...
and a very happy new year to you, too!

Unknown said...

I love your husbands "wood"! I use to ride around in a woody every day. I was very sad when my husband sold our woody :-)