When I was a kid, I would dream up completely insane presents to put on my Christmas wish list—shit that no parent could ever possibly afford and no child could ever possibly deserve. And every year, my parents would tell me before Christmas that I would NOT be getting the little race car I saw on the Obstacle Course round of Double Dare. They would sit me down and explain that Santa wasn't a Formula One mechanic and that I shouldn't be a fucking idiot.
The problem is that, on occasion, my parents DID get me something I wanted. But in order to keep it a surprise, they would play hard-to-get and tell me that I had no chance of getting Voltron, or whatever other stupid thing it was that I wanted. I heard enough fake NOs from my mom over the years that I began to recognize the pattern and immediately assumed that NO meant YES. "Oh, mom says I have no chance of getting that hoverboard? IT'S MINE." And then Christmas would come and I'd get a bag of fudge and hate the world.
Now I'm the parent and it's my turn to engage in the futile task of managing my child's expectations. This is the actual wish list that my daughter, who is 7, handed me a few weeks ago. It's completely unreasonable and I have no way of explaining this to her without being a dick, or without her thinking I'm pulling some reverse-psychology shit on her. Let's take a look at this thing, item by item.
"New American Girl Doll of the Year 2014." The heartless corporate executives at American Girl roll out a new "doll of the year" doll every year, complete with its own book and shitty DVD movie (the last one starred Nia Vardalos and Ian Ziering) and a meticulously crafted backstory that reads like an account planner's wet dream ("She's a spirited girl who draws on her passions to inspire action!"). And the kicker is that these dolls are always sold for a limited time (the 2013 doll of the year, Saige, is also on my kid's wish list and costs $110 if you can find her), so that mothers around the world step on each other's gullets just to secure one for their brainwashed offspring. Anyway, American Girl has not named its stupid doll of the year for NEXT year yet, but my kid wants it anyway. I assume the doll's name will be Kayden. Here is my kid asking for a present from the future, and that represents one of the more reasonable items. I love you, but you cannot have this, sweetheart.
"A bead kit like [my friend's]." You got it. Done. In the basement as we speak, kiddo. But now we go a little off the rails ...
"A little thing that can turn into anything at anytime." The fuck is this? What am I, Galactus? Do you understand the catastrophic universal implications of possessing a shape-shifting, time-traveling device? Even Rob Gronkowski knows that isn't to be toyed with. You could turn it into a separate moon any time you like and then the Earth would be fucking DESTROYED by the additional gravitation. You cannot be trusted with this at age 7. If such a thing existed and were affordable, I wouldn't have children. I would have a SPACE BROTHEL. There's a reason that we have the laws of physics in place. And you expect this thing to be portable as well? You cannot have this.
"1,000 bucks." This is Christmas, not an Italian wedding. Uncle Vito isn't gonna slip you an envelope in between stints at the raw bar. We put thought into our gifts here. You want cash? Clear the spiders out of the attic. I'll give you three bucks for it. A thousand dollars. Jesus Christ. I'm sorry, but you cannot have this.
"A new canape that glows up." So, like, a glowing miniature crabcake with a toothpick in it? I could maybe do that. MAYBE. Sounds like something Saige the doll might eat.
"A grill." She actually put this on the list because my wife thinks I should buy a new grill even though the old one is fine and I haven't cleaned it in two years. The cancerous black flecks let me know the meat is good. Anyway, she was thinking of me when she put this down, and that's heartwarming. I will buy you a second bead kit for being so selfless.
"A black, light blue, green, purple, and pink North Faces." FIVE North Face jackets, a hundred bucks each? Dream smaller. When did North Face jackets become hot again? Did you also want an autographed copy of Phish's Hoist? That is apparel meant for serious outdoorsmen who dangle from belayed ropes on the south face of the K2. The outdoorsiest we get is when we roll down the window at the fucking Wendy's drive through. You cannot have this.
"A new radio." Done. I'll throw in my old Betamax collection as a stocking stuffer.
"Monster High ear buds." This is Monster High, and it's completely fucked. It's like someone at Mattel held up a market research study and screamed, "Our Barbie dolls aren't causing as much body dysmorphia in children as they used to! MAKE ME A LINE OF BULIMIC VAMPIRE DOLLS OR YOU'RE ALL FUCKING FIRED." How are these toys even legal? It's like handing your child a Steve Madden ad. Anyway, these are cheap, so maybe I'll get them if you are good. FUN FACT: A child could go on a five-state killing spree and no parent would be heartless enough to actually bail on Christmas presents. The nice list has worse grade inflation than Harvard.
"All of the Beanie Babies." I have a theory that no one actually buys Beanie Babies—people simply acquire them from older parents who dump a truckload of the fuckers onto new parents, who don't understand that they've just been bequeathed a pile of garbage. Anyway, you cannot have ALL of these. Maybe a couple of Beanie Boos from the LAX airport. They're the only gift there under $17.
"Justice black [peace sign] jacket." Oh man, Justice. It's like a bad Katy Perry song in mall-store form.
A little thing with that can turn into anything
at any time." As you can see, my kid bumped this item up the list. Owning an imaginary
object that can grant her God-like powers is now THIRD on her list, right
behind the bead kit. Priorities.
"Saige, the American Girl doll." Fun facts about Saige from the AG website!
Where she lives: Albuquerque, New Mexico, the hot air balloon capital of the world
Also the vaginal-painting capital of the world!
Best friends: Tessa, a musician; and the new girl, Gabi, who knows how to train animals
And Harmony, who died.
Fun fact: She can draw horses that really look like horses
No, she can't. She's a doll. She is lifeless. YOU SELL HARMFUL LIES.
Anyway, my ma got her this already. Sucker.
"iPod Touch." Oh God, the fucking iPod touch. If one kid at your kid's school gets an iPhone or an iPod Touch (and I assure you many parents will poison the well by doing just this), it's over. Your kid is a SLAVE to Steve Jobs's corpse forever. My kid makes drawings of iPhone covers. She does writing exercises about iPhones. When I asked her what she wanted between a flying car and an iPhone, she picked the goddamn iPhone. And here we are, acting as if Steve Jobs bestowed some wonderful gift upon humanity. LITTLE AFRICAN TODDLERS KNOW HOW TO USE AN IPAD INTUITIVELY! Fuck you, Apple.
My kid asked Santa for this iPod, and I had to carefully explain to her that Santa does not produce electronics, he can only license them with permission from both the parent and the manufacturer. My kid still believes in Santa, even though I have told her that there's no such thing as magic (she wanted to know after reading Harry Potter), and so now she doesn't believe in any sort of magical powers except for Santa's ability to traverse the entirety of Earth in a single evening. The center cannot hold.
Anyway, I'm sorry my dear, but you cannot have this. Maybe when you're 27.
"A lightup Razor Scooter that is the color blue." "Dad, for Christmas, can I get hit by a car?"
"A pet puppy. Border collie with a peacesign coller, and a leash." NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Hell no. Do you see any borders in this house that need patrolling, apart from the bathroom door when Daddy is having his alone time? No. Do you see any sheep that need herding? No. Are you gonna give a shit about walking it or feeding it after, oh, three days? No. All of the work will be left to me. This site says, "Border collies can become aggressive due to fear. ... Do not approach or handle your dog suddenly from behind." Great. Fucking great. That is the exact wrong breed for a human child. Children will sneak up behind dogs and bash a tambourine into their heads because that's funny. You cannot have this dog. I'll get you the leash, though. You can walk Saige with it.
"A black rist bange."I don't know what this is, but I bet they sell it at Justice. Done.
Intermission for apparent drawing of chicken's head. Awww, that's cute!
"Saige Paints the Sky: The movie." Done. You get the doll, the DVD, the radio, the bead kit, a couple of Beanie Babies, and the werewolf anorexia headphones. NOT A BAD HAUL. And you deserve it, kid, because I love you and would do anything for you except hand you a thousand bucks cash, the power to control all existing matter, and an iPhone to boot. But take heart: There's a glowing crabcake waiting for you in your stocking. Merry Christmas!
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.