'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
IS A USED GIFT RUDE?
We had a lively discussion in my family over the holidays. (No no, not one of THOSE kind of lively family holiday discussions you read about in the newspaper, where the cops have to come and break it up and haul away at least a couple of people in handcuffs, and everyone has to appear in court and explain to the judge that the scratches and black eyes are really no big deal, while promising not to gulp vodka out of Mason jars anymore if the judge will just give them a second—and in some cases, twelfth—chance.)
The lively discussion we had occurred when some family members and friends gathered to exchange Christmas presents. The issue that was discussed was whether it is acceptable to buy someone a DVD for a Christmas gift, but first watch the movie yourself before gift-wrapping it. Some of us argued that there is nothing wrong with previewing a film. After all, you want to make sure the disc is not defective. Plus, we pointed out, you’re actually doing the recipient a favor by removing all the annoying, hard-to-open packaging that DVDs are typically wrapped in.
Other people argued that it is rude, rude, rude to give what amounts to a “used” gift. “You wouldn’t give someone used sneakers or used tennis balls for a Christmas gift, would you?” it was asked.
“Well, actually I might,” I replied. “It depends if I had any money to go out and buy a regular gift.” But the real point, I argued, is that used sneakers and tennis balls are not the same quality anymore compared to when they were new. So yeah, used sneakers or tennis balls—not to mention used food, beverages or cigars—would be somewhat insulting gifts.
On the other hand, DVDs have the exact same level of quality whether they’re still in the factory wrapper or whether they’ve been viewed a time or two.
“No, no, no!” came the forceful reply. “It’s not the same. It’s a USED gift, plain and simple, and it’s wrong!”
“You’re just upset,” I said, “because I told you the ending of the gift I just gave you.”
“No, I’m upset because you’re a jerk, and you gave me a used gift!”
“I should’ve given you some used tennis balls,” I muttered, “or maybe some pre-chewed Slim Jims.”
(Note: at this point during our solemn and holy observance of Christmas Day, it was a good thing that no one had been gulping vodka from Mason jars, or else you might have read about our lively family discussion in the newspaper.)
I’m really not sure what to think about this issue. Whenever I am in a quandary, I usually do one of two things: either I ask my brilliant readers for their wise opinions, or I shake the Magic 8-Ball. Well, when I asked the 8-Ball, “Is it OK to watch a DVD before giving it to someone as a gift?” it replied, “Ask again later.” (I’m glad when I asked it 22 years ago, “Is it OK to continue gulping vodka from Mason jars?” it said, “Outlook not so good.”)
What do you think? Please send me an email at email@example.com with your thoughts. Is it acceptable to watch a gift DVD first? Is it acceptable not to bother buying a gift at all and just give someone one of the lousy movie DVDs laying around your house? Is it acceptable to give someone a gift of used tennis balls or pre-chewed Slim Jims?
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