7 Reasons That Men Shouldn’t Wrap Birthday Presents
Did I give this the title 7 Reasons That Men Shouldn’t Wrap Birthday Presents? I didn’t really mean that. I meant 7 Reasons That Me Shouldn’t Wrap Birthday Presents. Or I, to be correct about it. Because I’m sure that there are some men out there that are good at wrapping presents. Neat, methodical men that actually welcome the task; men that positively enjoy it, in fact. The thing is though, that I’m definitely not one of them. And I’m sure that somewhere there must be other people (most likely men) who are as ill-suited to wrapping gifts as I am. Possibly. Here are seven reasons I shouldn’t be allowed to wrap stuff.
1. Loathing. I fundamentally dislike wrapping gifts. I’m not good at it and I don’t enjoy it; much like dancing a ballet or sketching a bowl of fruit, I’m temperamentally unsuited to it and it’s much better when done by others. This affects my whole approach to the burden of having to wrap presents. I will procrastinate; I will obfuscate; I will participate in the most mundane or bizarre displacement activities to avoid it. I would literally rather do anything (photograph my belly-button fluff; listen to Jedward; fellate a baboon) than wrap a present. This leads to problems.
2. Delay. It means that I will leave performing the odious task until the last possible moment. And then, when that arrives, I’ll leave it for an hour or two more. Then I’ll have a beer or two, which I may follow with some gin or – as preceded one spectacularly disastrous present-wrapping session – absinthe. I will not wrap a single birthday present until I am so tired that I absolutely have to go to bed on the eve of the birthday. Only then is it time to start wrapping.
3. Practice Makes Perfect. It’s then of course, that I am reminded of how epically, stupendously, mind-bogglingly bad I am at wrapping presents. It’s something I get to do so rarely (thankfully) that I believe I may be getting worse at it with every passing year. I only do it rarely, not because I am ungenerous, but because I am forbidden to do so. My wife – having seen many examples of my wrapping – would rather allow Prince Phillip and Pete Doherty to mind our baby for a weekend than let me wrap a gift that anyone will see (feel, or even be within the same postcode as). This division of labour suits me fine as it leaves me in charge of hammering stuff and assembling things, but it leaves me ill-equipped for the four occasions per year on which I am called to wrap presents.
4. Wrapping Is Dull. There are few tasks duller than wrapping presents. Probably. I’ve been trying to think about something duller than wrapping a present for several minutes now and have so far failed to come up with anything that tops the unremitting tediousness that is covering things for other people in paper. So I would be better off if I had a distraction from the wrapping. But I can’t watch television or listen to music while I’m wrapping because of the hour and because rustling wrapping paper is the loudest sound known to humankind outside of Muse and Vanessa Feltz being sucked into a jet engine. When you are wrapping presents, you are wrapping presents. There. Are. No. Distractions.
5. Sellotape. But there is Sellotape. There’s a fundamental flaw with Sellotape; one that renders it almost all but unusable to me. It has two sides; one of which is smooth and presents me with no problem, and then there’s the other side, which is sticky. The sticky side adheres to everything: It sticks to me, it sticks to itself, it sticks to the table, it sticks to the floor, it sticks to anything that has fallen from the table to floor and retains it in the form of a visible mass of crumbs, dust, fluff and (always) a single pubic hair stuck between the Sellotape and the wrapping paper. The only thing that Sellotape does not do – in my hands – is affix neatly and evenly to the edges of wrapping paper. One birthday, I got this reaction: “Thank you for the present, Darling. Why is there a tortilla chip stuck to it?”
6. Paper. Because I am emphatically not in charge of wrapping anything ever, I am often presented with a problem when it comes to paper. I buy wrapping paper all the time. Lots of paper. Because of this, I always expect to find an abundance of wrapping paper when I – with heavy heart – am obliged to wrap a present. But because my wife spends her entire year wrapping presents in my absence, by the time I need wrapping paper, there’s none left. Things I have been forced to resort to using in the past include: tissue paper, newspaper, plain brown paper, white A4 paper and lined A4 paper. I have also given the gift of a small and delicate bracelet presented in a large metallic red bottle bag. Last night I had to resort to using Christmas wrapping paper to wrap my wife’s birthday presents. Fortunately I was able to talk my way out of the situation this morning: “Those? Those are birthday trees, Darling…Merry Birthday!”
7. Apology. There are also many apologies involved in wrapping presents: Apologies for waking the household up by bellowing obscenities at an odd-shaped overnight bag (or Sellotape, we can’t be certain) at 0330 in the morning; apologies for affixing a dead woodlouse to the wrapping of a tub of handcream that bore the words “Be My Valentine”; apologies for the (unaccountably) ginger pubic hair that was stuck to the tube of Pringles; apologies for the “Birthday” trees line that seemed certain to work and apologies for arriving in bed with a ball of Sellotape stuck to my arm which eventually transferred to my wife’s back when she rolled over. It turns out that wrapping birthday presents is a sorry affair, as well as a messy one.
*I would, of course, like to wish my wife a very happy birthday (if not a well wrapped one). Happy Birthday, Darling.