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A Gift I Was Happy To Return

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My mom is the hardest person in the world to by gifts for. She is notorious. She says she’s not trying to be difficult. She says SHE doesn’t even know what she wants. When I asked her what she wanted to for her birthday a few months ago, she said “rocks.” I live in Oregon. She lives in southern California. They would be hard to gift wrap.

Plus, she wanted a specific, yet-undetermined type of rocks, since she was going to use them to build a walkway next to the house. She would know which rocks when she “saw” them. Besides not being a long-range clairvoyant, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to get her rocks for her birthday. I asked her if she had any other things she wanted for her birthday. She said “to be skinny.”

My dad, my sister and I all start squirming months in advance when it’s time to buy my mom a gift. For Christmas, I asked for a rock-free list of suggestions. She requested a particular series of books. She’s an avid reader. She had accidentally began reading an engrossing series without realizing she had started with one of the middle books. She told me it was “The Highlander,” and it was some historical Scottish fiction with time travel and other stuff.

Great! I scooted over to Powell’s and realized there’s a lot of books with the word “Highlander” in the title. I didn’t know the author. I started looking at various series, and began to realize, these Highlander books were rather, um, trashy. I called my dad to be sure, but he was unable to find the book my mom was reading. I was on my own. And I was getting a sinking feeling that my mom was reading trashy romance novels.

My mom is an adult, but I didn’t want to encourage this behavior. I didn’t want to buy romance novels! I was in POWELL’S for crap’s sake! Not even buying them anonymously online, like porn!  But damn it, my mom is so hard to buy gifts for!

And I was having a hard time locating these books. I checked, with hope, in the Adventure section. Not there. Not in Sci Fi either. I reluctantly began looking in the Romance section. There was lots of gleaming pectorals on the covers. It felt very, very dirty.

I couldn’t find these damn books. I didn’t want to have to do this, but I shuffled over the the help desk. “I need to buy my mom some trashy books,” I mumbled. I asked for The Highlander Series. I told them I couldn’t find them in the Romance section. The hipster guy behind the desk pointed me to a corner, “The Paranormal Romance Section.” Jesus Christ.

Of course I wouldn’t think to look in the PARANORMAL romance section. I haven’t ever had the fortune to encounter that type of romance. Who knew that it occurs enough to warrant a whole SECTION?

I got the damn books and fled. They had pectoral muscles on them. Presumably ghostly, historic, Scottish time-traveling ones. With nipples. Gah.

A few days after Christmas, our whole family was finally all under one roof, and we opened our presents. I had gotten my mom a couple other “shot in the dark” gifts. But I knew the books were just the ones she wanted. She opened them and said, “These look like romance novels.” I told her they were. I looked online, did some research, figured out which goddamned “Highlander” series she could have wanted. These were definitely the ones.

She retrieved the book she was reading and showed it to me. Outlander, not Highlander. She told me Highlander. Easy mistake. “I can’t stand romance novels!” She said.

And, instead of feeling like I had, again, failed to get a thoughtful gift, I just felt a deep, resounding sense of relief. I really didn’t want to contribute to my mom’s dirty Scottish ghost sex habit.


  1. Okay, that was funny!
    Hot sex with a Scottish ghost? Could be worse!

  2. Just wondering if it would have somehow been better if the pecs _didn’t_ have nipples.

  3. Holy Crazy Powell’s Paranormal Romance Book Sections, Batman! That was freakin’ funny. Here I am trying to snack and read and I nearly blew hummus through my nose. Ahhh god. That was too much.

  4. I can relate greatly. My mom was the worst to shop for, and she pretty much tolerated the gifts I bought for her. She liked them when she opened them in front of me, but she wouldn’t give me ideas about what she wanted and when I did buy something, it was almost always not what she wanted or needed. DOH!!


  5. i’ve read those books and they are very sexy (or maybe I’m prudish?) But the minute you said Highlander and scottish time travel I knew what she wanted. I stopped after the first couple in the series…the first was the best.

  6. Smut. I wonder if Outlander is her coverup.

  7. Auntie Laurie says

    I heard her side of the story, yours is SOOOOO much funnier. You have my sympathy

  8. The Outlander series is HOT!!! Jamie and Claire totally kick filthy, no-running-water-or-flushing-toilets, living-in-a-castle, sword-fighting-sadistic-sodomites asses!! No pun intended. Great books.

    The moment you said “highlander” I knew… you shoulda called meeeeee!

    And Jill, books 4 and 5 are excellent, though Bree gets a bit tiresome. I wished she’d just shut up and die, or something. Nice, huh?

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