One of our names begins with T and the other with A – we’re a magical combo representing the front and the back, the best of both worlds, the humps and the lumps. We’re women with similar life paths, who came to Los Angeles ages ago and earned our stripes looking for love among the Hollywood hipsters. We are here to share what we’ve learned with you, with the charm of Southern gals and the smarts of city vixens.
A has dated so many LA guys that she couldn’t come close to naming them all, and sometimes doesn’t recognize them in public.
T has managed not to kill her boyfriend, somehow.
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The T Side:
Besides STDs, most people like being given things. There are some other exceptions.
The season of giving can be a difficult time of year to traverse with your significant other/bunkmate/whatever you call ‘em, because what you choose as a gift can have significant meaning, intended or not. I used to know a neurotic New York City émigré who met a mutual friend in Los Angeles and moved into her apartment in the center of Hollywood shortly thereafter. Three years went by and she gave him a little blue box. It contained a set of Tiffany’s cuff links. He thought this meant she was practically proposing to him, freaked out, then moved out. His loss, but beware the ways your gift might be interpreted (especially by someone already insecure or phobic about the relationship).
When I was 23, I went out with runway walkin’ 25-year-old in New York whose gifts made me a bit hot under the collar, literally – he wanted me to have a red wool jacket one winter. You know in the movies when the man sends a woman a box and she opens it and it’s a stunning dress, she puts it on and they go out on the town? It was almost like that. I was young and felt like we were this show couple. He was very styley – reveled in YSL suits, etc. It got to the point where he was checking the tags on my tops to see what I was wearing. He bought me clothes from small designers in Nolita – stuff he wanted to see me in. After a while it just made me feel weird, like I was a dress-up doll, and things went south. For me, if a guy is more into designer clothing than you are, “it’s a deal breaker, ladies”.
So if you’ve only been going out for a few weeks or months, what do you get? I’d say you’re always safe with books and music. You can choose something personal or pricey, like that limited-edition Taschen release, and still not be intimidating or psycho-seeming.
These days, my boyfriend and I don’t get each other anything major; he buys stuff for our pup in lieu of me. Last winter it was the Snuggie for dogs – it gives both of us joy to make the dog comfy. This year, I’ve heard him lamenting that there isn’t a “Forever Lazy” for our four-legged friends.
Lately, I’ve figured out something to give him that gives back to both of us. I’ve gotten him print – yes, print! – subscriptions to nerdy boy-type magazines (which we of course recycle). This in turn makes him watch less television. Win and win. Peace in your home is a great start to peace on earth, I’ve heard.
The A Side:
A guy once gave me a ring on our second date. He made a show of presenting it to me as we were heading out, and while it was a pretty deco-style silver piece, I couldn’t help but find the gift a bit premature and the symbolism a bit unnerving. Sometimes it just takes that one thing to put you off – I cut the date short after dinner and never went out with him again. It may have also had something to do with the fact that he was an ex-addict (why do they like me so much?) and that we had met at a bar while he was on an Internet date with another girl (yep, that really happens). I still wear the ring, though – and funnily enough, I think about him every time I put it on.
Once, I received a gift of an orchid and a six-pack of diet soda, no doubt purchased at the Trader Joe’s between his house and mine. To be fair it was my favorite kind of diet soda, but this was Valentine’s Day and we’d been dating for four months. Nothing says “I’m going to break up with you in a few weeks” like a plant that’s impossible to keep alive and an artificially-sweetened beverage in packaging that’s lethal to sea turtles. Hey, at least the message was clear.
A few Christmases ago, the guy I’d been dating for a couple of months gave me a copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. As T suggests, books are always a safe bet. But Hemingway was his favorite author, and it’s telling when the gift speaks more to the giver than the recipient. Even more telling was the manner in which it was delivered: dropped off in my parking lot, after Christmas, without even a call to tell me he was coming by. I did read the book; if only I’d gotten the message from Papa and figured out sooner that this dude was no keeper either.
I haven’t always been so cursed by guys ungifted at gifting. I’ve had a couple of sincere boyfriends who gave me things I still cherish – beautiful coats, a sewing machine, diamond necklaces (tiny ones, y’all!). But it’s totally unnecessary to get all extravagant; the key to gift giving that will delight your new flame or old hat is simply to pay attention – listen to what they say, notice what they notice on other people or in others’ homes, observe what they buy for themselves. What they deny themselves is just as useful – maybe you know she loves bourbon but would never indulge in a $60 bottle of Blanton’s (hint, hint). Give accordingly, and your guy or gal will be more delighted by your thoughtful attention to them (we’re all narcissists, after all) than by whatever you actually purchase.
Anyway, the best gifts are those that don’t have an oh-crap-what-do-I-get-this-dude deadline – the kind you buy just because you stumble across reminders of your sweetheart everywhere. At the right moment, a six-pack of diet soda just might do the trick.
Tell us about the most bizarre gift you given or gotten from a lover. Remember – exchanging gifts shouldn’t be more weirder than exchanging bodily fluids.