By Kevin Guilfoile
Many Februaries ago I did a small favor for an autograph dealer, who repaid me with a framed, signed photo of Hugh Hefner in a paisley robe and purple pajamas. Since my girlfriend at the time shared an alma mater with Hef, my immediate reaction was, "Valentine's Day shopping complete."
The recipient of that ill-considered gift is now my wife, thankfully, but I still have trouble shopping for this holiday. Part of it is that I am averse to sentimentality, probably to a fault. Flowers should be an easy out--everybody likes flowers. Unfortunately our cat likes them, too, frequently regifting them onto the sofa, carpet, and duvet cover. (On a related subject, pet owners, if not copy editors, might have enjoyed today's WGN News "You and Your Pets" segment on "poisoness plants.")
Over the years my wife has learned to accept my ineptitude. Now she even gives as good as she gets. Last year she found an artist who exclusively paints images of bookshelves with quotes from Home Alone written over them. Mine, which now hangs proudly in my office, says "THE SALT TURNS THE BODIES INTO MUMMIES." (And if you don't remember that quote from Home Alone, you've never really seen Home Alone.)
I realize there might be people out there who are as bad at this as me, which is why I've compiled a shopping guide of the kinds of things my wife might expect to get from me for Valentine's Day. None of these made the cut this year, so feel free to seek them out for your own sweetheart without worrying that yours and mine might compare notes.
1. Nothing accents a room quite like a hand-embroidered Blood Splatter Pillow. Also available in fingerprint, DNA, and hair, two of which, especially if you have a cat and a houseful of "poisoness plants," are probably already on your couch in copious amounts anyway. Caveat: If you are actually thinking about killing someone on your couch, purchase of this pillow will be presented at your trial as evidence of premeditation.
2. It goes without saying that no serious forensic hobbyist should be without their own Institute of Police Technology and Management Crime Scene Template. If you are unsure how to indicate that the killer dropped his nun-chucks in the blood trail between the davenport and the urinal, the IPTMCST has you covered.
3. You might not know this but James Lipton, host of the Inside the Actor's Studio, is an expert in "terms of venery," which are collective nouns applied to animals. He's even written a book on the subject with the lovely title An Exaltation of Larks. That's a pretty good Valentine's Day present. So is this venereally-inspired, crow-emblazoned jewelry called "The Murder Necklace." (In regard to premeditation, please see above.)
4. You don't have to be a gun-lover or a zombie-hater to enjoy these suitable-for-framing gun-range zombie targets. Remember, when the zombies come you must shoot them in the head for a kill, but you also must avoid wounding the slow-footed and oblivious little girl they will have inevitably taken as a human shield/snack.
5. On the other hand, if the person you love in turn loves his guns as much as his family (or her family as much as her guns) then I can't recommend anything more highly than a truly sublime collection of photographs of everyday Americans posing in their homes with their children, pets, and firearms. It's called Armed America, and like the best relationships, this book is surreal, funny, often frightening, and consistently riveting.
For those who like to browse on their own, I can recommend almost any of the wares at Berwyn, Illinois's Horrorbles, where you can find everything from Saw IV action figures to signed Boris Karloff photos.
Anyone else have a heartfelt but nevertheless inappropriate gift for Valentine's this year?