Gift? You call that a gift?

December 24, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

Let's begin with a little word association today, shall we?

When you hear the phrase "the perfect holiday gift," what's the first thing that comes to mind?

The Jiffy Lube Signature Service Oil Change?

No?

Well, that's odd.

Because here's an ad I came across the other day: "Spinning your wheels trying to find the perfect holiday gift? Look no further than the Jiffy Lube Gift Card."

Apparently, nothing says Christmas like a beefy guy in overalls tugging at your car's oil filter and checking the belts and coolant levels while you sit in an overheated waiting room thumbing through an old Field & Stream.

What the Jiffy Lube ad really highlights is all these businesses straining to link themselves to the holiday season, with dubious promises that no matter what they sell or do, it makes "the perfect holiday gift."

In the past few weeks, I've come across ads for hot-air balloon rides, dog-grooming services, firewood-delivery people and dental-care providers, all promising the best holiday present anyone could ever get.

My current favorite is an ad in the newspaper for World War II Warbird rides.

"No Flying Experience Needed -- Christmas Gift Certificates!" it says.

"Experience the rumble and roar of a radial engine as you take the controls of a vintage WWII North American AT-6 or Boeing N2S-5 Open Cockpit Bi-plane."

Excuse me?

Take the controls?!

Look, I don't even like flying in a brand-new Boeing 737 with Southwest Airlines.

So the idea of climbing into a rickety World War II warplane and doing barrel rolls is not exactly high on my Christmas wish list.

And what's with that "take the controls" business?

You strap me in the cockpit of a 65-year-old biplane and hand me the controls, I'll have a heart attack right there.

Is that really "the perfect holiday gift?"

Someone keeling over in a biplane at 10,000 feet?

On the other hand, the "perfect holiday gift" being hyped on eBay, the Oral-B Triumph rechargeable toothbrush, seems a little too ... tame.

Has anyone in the history of mankind ever thought, "Boy, wouldn't it be great to get a toothbrush this Christmas?"

Look, I don't care how technologically advanced it is.

I don't care if it delivers 40,000 in-and-out pulsations per minute.

I don't care if it has a visual-pressure sensor.

It's still a toothbrush.

And if a toothbrush is "the perfect holiday gift," then what's next on your gift list?

A can of deodorant?

A couple of bars of soap?

No. Let's just not go down that path at all.

And what about the path proposed by this ad: "Want to give an Oreck to someone special for the holidays?"

Upright vacuums, canister vacuums, car vacs -- apparently the whole world of high-priced suction-cleaning devices is yours to be had this Christmas.

And what else would you rather be doing at this time of year than scurrying around the house behind a shiny 9-pound vacuum cleaner with a powerful hypo-allergenic filtration system, 10-year warranty and 10 free annual tuneups?

Plus, if you ordered online but missed the deadline for holiday delivery, you could print a gift notice for that someone special that reads: "I'm giving you an Oreck and it's on its way! Happy Holidays!"

Yes, I can see how that would make the someone special all tingly.

Finally, I know people have sent them for years, but let me go on record as saying I don't get the whole idea of Omaha Steaks being the "ideal gift for someone on your list," as it says in the company's ads.

Oh, I know they're tasty: the filet mignons, the top sirloins, the juicy Omaha Steaks burgers that people rave about.

But you're still giving meat for Christmas.

Meat.

It just doesn't seem very ... exciting.

Although compared to an oil change, it's like a flat-screen TV.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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