Columns » Bob Lancaster

While the getting's good

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Here in the throes of geezery I’ve been pondering retirement, and to make the thing easier on both of us, I’ve signed on to the gift registries at several of the familiar upscale department stores.

You’ll find my wish lists for retirement gifts there soon — with all my sizes, my china and flatware and crystal patterns, my houseware needs, my artistic tastes, my preferences in hobby equipment, and so on.

I’m providing this information more for your convenience than mine. I know you’ll want to be doing something to pay your respects for the job I’ve done, and I know how hard it can be choosing a gift for someone so sophisticated and accomplished, with such elegant, stylish tastes.


Gift-giving is a holy tradition, solemnized by the Magi, and in my opinion it proves your Christian sincerity. Symbolic gifts such as the plighted troths in a covenant marriage are fine as far as they go, but your tangible resellable goods, your gold and frankincense, can’t be beat as a lasting token of esteem.

If you do get me a gift, though, I want it to be because you want to, not because it’s customary, or because it’s “the thing to do,” or because you want to kiss up, or because you think you owe it to me. I mean, if I helped get your deadbeat relative a job, or your felonious in-law a commutation or pardon, it was only on the merits, and it’s never proper to ask or expect payback, even shamefully belated payback in the form of some piddling retirement gift, for having done the right thing.

Also, I sure wouldn’t want you to spend more money on my gift than you can afford. From him to whom much has been given, much will be expected, certainly. Or at least more than from you poor saps who hover around or under the poverty line. If you haven’t fared so well, heck fire, silver plate will be almost as greatly appreciated as the real McCoy, so don’t worry about it. By the time this retirement of mine goes through, they might’ve already repealed that sales tax on groceries and that should allow you to upgrade your gift considerably.

If you’re thinking on the gift level of an automobile, I might mention that I like American-made pickup trucks, and wouldn’t expect anything in the line of small Italian sports cars that cost 700 grand, unless that’s something you feel that you just have to do. I mean, it’s inappropriate — even tacky — for a prospective giftee to presume to put arbitrary limitations on the prospective gifter. It’s your gift and if you want to spend 700 grand on it, knowing how much pleasure it’s going to give me in my golden years, who am I to tell you that you can’t?

If you’re thinking real estate, just one word I hope you’ll consider: lakefront. That’s just a suggestion now. It’s not saying I’d insult you by flat turning down the Architectural Digest condo out in the woody dell. Not by such discourtesy did I get where I am today. But a place on the lake — nothing extravagant now — is a longtime dream, and other than the hope provided by these registries, it looks like it’s just not ever going to happen.

And if lakefront does by chance tickle your gift-giving fancy, you might drop the hint to a few of our mutual friends that my boat and barge and outboard and jet ski and other water recreation equipment preferences will be prominently mentioned in those registries, somewhere up near the top.

I have only a couple more gift requests; otherwise I’m perfectly happy to be surprised.

One is, I don’t need more cowboy boots. I got one gift pair already that cost more than a college education, and ask me how many times I’ve worn them out. All the good I’ve got from them is wondering how much they’d bring on eBay. That’s not gracious, I know, but if you’re going to spend that kind of money on a gift, why not just give the money and let the recipient decide if he’s insane enough to spend it on some useless boots?

Another is, like most high-intensity Second Amendment enthusiasts, I can’t get too much custom artillery. From comments I’ve made here in the column, you know I love my blue-steel revolvers, but gun fever goes far beyond those that you mainly use to rob convenience stores. I love killing animals, especially big intelligent docile ones that you need an attendant to push them out in front of your gun so you couldn’t fail to kill them if you tried. You wear out a lot of firearms that way and I’ll certainly be mighty obliged for famous ones like Oswald’s or Hemingway’s that I could unload for big bucks in a pinch.

Also, no Velveeta. You can get this stuff now in gift cases that range in size up to hogshead, but since I joined the program I’d have to take a pass and regift the big yum to one of these charity kitchens that feed bums, and I just don’t know if I could stand that.


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