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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post: Breaking the Female Gift Code

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Richard Tait is the proud father of a returned-missionary son attending BYU-Idaho, and a beautiful high school senior daughter. He has been married to the same woman for 25 years, and its been the best 22 years of his life. Richard writes for his own blog, Mormon Third Eye, where he talks about the Third Eye ... the notorious eye in the back of the head, or the extra view of life that God blesses parents striving to do the right thing with so they can see more of life than the children they chase after. Amazingly, Richard hasn't missed a weekend post in over 200 weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland. You can read Richard's first guest post here.

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Men, there is hope for us yet. Women, you have a defector in your midst. When you find what dastardly evil my own wife perpetrated in compromising the completely unwritten but wholly binding female gift code, you’re going to want to grab your virtual pitchforks and torches, form an angry mob, and descend upon her like frightened Transylvanians staging a warlike protest in front of Frankenstein’s castle.

Why? Because she committed the unthinkable, unpardonable sin in the battle of the sexes- she intentionally, willfully asked for a kitchen appliance as a Mother’s day gift!

Stories of loving but emotionally ignorant husbands showering their better halves with gifts of non-stick cookware or lovely assortments of classic wooden stirring spoons is the stuff that legends are made of. I have heard sensational rumors of poorly-trained men doing such things, but never met one bold and stupid enough to actually do it. That was, however, before that fateful Mother’s day in 2008 when my wife begged me, with all the energy her soul could possess, to buy her a kitchen appliance as a present.

I was initially stunned at her request. I had faithfully observed the female gift code for decades, which unequivocally states, “no husband shall ever buy his wife appliances as gifts.” I didn’t believe in the wrong message violating the code would send - that, in reward for the hard work our wives do in turning a house into a home where the spirit can dwell, they should be honored with appliances that signify the chains that bind them to family food preparation or clothes cleaning, and only reinforce the rigors of homemaking they often feel consigned to complete. I knew enough to always select a gift that, if not expensive, at least was beautiful and sparkly enough to be an accurate symbolic acknowledgment of her inner and outer beauty.

Then my mind raced to reconcile the confusion caused by this request. Was this a trick? Was she just testing me, to see if I had the integrity to honor the code, even in the face of a fully sanctioned authorized approval to violate it? She certainly was clever and experienced enough in the ways of the code to pull it off. However, her continual pleadings and the longing gleam in her meaningful eyes as she salivated over the Kohl’s ad displaying the space-age Kitchenaid mixer made it clear to me that she was serious.

Hence I reluctantly sneaked away to Kohl’s the day before Mother’s day and purchased the shiny, gleaming black and silver appliance that seemed to incite such passion in my wife. Just in case the female clerk checking me out was an ardent supporter of the code, I acted embarrassed during the exchange and convincingly lied, “I’ll have you know that I’m NOT buying this for my wife.. Its for me.” The clerk responded with a silent crooked smile meant to convey the message, “yea, right, like I’m supposed to believe you.”

My wife found it on the kitchen table on Mother’s day morning- a shiny, jet-black Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer with tilt-head design, unique, planetary mixing action, and durable all-metal construction- with a small, polite blue bow attached to the top of the box to indicate that it was truly a gift. She almost dropped to her knees in reverent joy in front of the appliance, a sign that her intent to depart from the code and truly appreciate this gift was sincere. Personally, I don’t blame her. This amazing, marvelous product of human ingenuity, that apparently “every Mormon mother has,” can mix any combination of edible substances, knead bread dough, and even wirelessly download recipes from the Internet to produce tasty delicacies similar to the famous food replicator on the Starship Voyager .(I’m not exactly sure about that last function- it looked like it could!) I suspect that one of my assigned home projects this summer will be to build a podium for it in the center of the kitchen area that will make it easier for use to worship it.

So ladies, what punishment will you mete out for one of your own who has “left the reservation” and openly violated the sacred female gift code? If it is not harsh and quick (maybe something like not noticing her new haircut or turning down a request to accompany her for a bathroom visit to powder noses at some future social event), it will be near impossible to close the door that has been opened and prevent more husbands from bringing home new ladles and measuring cups.

It’s your turn. Do the right thing.

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