almost a diary, compulsory reading

I am getting old(er). Christmas shopping 2002.

Today I did the bulk of my Christmas shopping and discovered three interesting things.

Firstly, age compression, big time: when did it become fashionable among 13 year old guys to be knowledgeable about Eau de Toilettes? I was slightly stunned while listening to three youngsters’ conversation about the intricacies of three different types of Jil Sander Eau de Toilette. Not that I mind EdTs. That is, these days.

When I was thirteen, my friends and I were interested in fighter jets, racing cars, and handling advice for the first hangover – not in the amount of alcohol in EdTs. We eventually all learned to give our appearance the finishing touches (well, in our opinion…) by applying olfactory aids. But that was not until a few years later. And I did not learn more about the inner workings of EdTs until I did a luxury industry case study in Business School. I am confused. We got more sophisticated in the olfactory sense because girls told us to (well, they never actually told us to, that would have made things a lot easier…). So I can’t help but wonder – is the episode also telling me something about today’s pre-teen girls’ behavior? Or have guys changed so much without being obliged to by young Lysistrata?

Secondly, there are still some guys who really don’t know how to improve their appearance using olfactory aids. While listening to the three kids, some 45 year old guy grabbed one of the test flacons and quasi-emptied it over his head and coat. And I am not kidding. I wonder what the boys thought of that ;-).

Thirdly, baggy trousers that are literally so baggy they sweep the streets. The ones I saw today were soaked in water (it was raining) up to their proprietors calfs. I think that local governments have not yet realised how much public cleaning costs can be privatised to these fashion victim’s families, and will be, moreover, (more or less) willingly borne by their parents to avoid noisy fights…

In other news, I actually managed to get most of my presents today. But that’s not too difficult. I am none of the people who spend months figuring out the perfect present. Most of the people I am giving presents to already have most of the stuff I believe they could possibly want (well, within reasonable German-definition-upper-middle- class-limits… I believe, most would not mind a free Porsche.)

So giving presents is theoretcially complicated. I realise I am generalising a bit, but I think there are usually roughly two and half alternatives when it comes to buying Christmas presents. Either you’re giving something that is admired on the coffee table during Christmas and then stuffed into a cardbord box on the attic on December 30th. Or you’re giving something not quite as exciting but with a longer lasting appeal. Most of the times I tend to stick with the second alternative and give books which, if nothing else, are a good pass-time and sophisticated sedative during the sudden urges to decapitate a distant aunt on Boxing Day for her remarks about the beautiful socks she gave us, or in case the tv programme does again become all too dreadful.

The last semi-alternative is the theoretical possibility of the above mentioned perfect present – something that clearly exhibits that one knows enough about a person to figure out her/his underlying interests, needs or emotions and devoted enough time on brainstorming and then getting or creating this perfect, most of the times material, incarnation thereof. But that’s probably as likely to happen as winning a million in a lottery.

Do I need to mention that I don’t participate in lotteries?