It’s possible I sometimes buy holiday gifts more to amuse/satisfy myself than because I really think the recipient will like them. Surely I’m not that selfish…
Take for example the small wooden hand-carved cock I’ve just bought for one of my housemates. It’s a Buddhist charm, which is carried – or preferably worn – to scare off bad spirits (more on that later). I think it’s absolutely hilarious – what a super present! After trawling an amulet market in Bangkok for a hour, I chanced upon a whole box full of these little trinkets and couldn’t believe my luck – the ideal souvenir – everyone in Thailand wears these, so I’ve really captured the culture in that cock.
It’s also flexible present – well, the cock itself isn’t, being made of wood it’s hard – but it can be used as a keyring or pendant, or perhaps even household ornament. So many options…
Anyway, it’s not just a source of untold amounts amusement pour moi, but also a tasteful talisman (according to Thais), which I think any self-respecting gayer should own. It remains to be seen whether Homie agrees.
I should add that since returning, the spirits that have kept my Homie single for the past few months have been duly repelled – he has since picked up a rather cute young chap. What a result! Executive summary: This cock is a testament to my good judgement.
Another example of self-centric holiday shopping was my trip to a wonderful little independent bookshop in BKK called Passport/Books. This place was like an (air conditioned) art-filled oasis in the midst of the midday sun and hectic city. After stumbling upon it by chance, I spent an hour or so browsing and carefully selecting some little art postcards and hand-made stationary, obviously with the purpose of procuring presents (for other people) firmly at the front of my mind.
Thinking about it, the small leather-bound book I bought would be ideal for me – easy to carry around, it’s tough cow-hide cover protecting my precious scribbles. It sort of matches my shoulder bag too, and my brown leather belt. I’m struggling to decide who might appreciate the postcards most. They are handmade prints of Tarkovsky-style landscapes – so pleasing to the eye. If I’m honest they were probably always going to be for me.
I should probably add that I returned with these items safely, no damage caused in transit and they have remained safely in my bedroom since. The concept of ‘holiday gifts’ (much like holidays) is definitely time-sensitive. If not already, then in a day or two my holiday will be a Past Tense Event. It won’t be a conversation point anymore, rather than: “How was your trip, Shaz?” it will be, and only when prompted: “Oh Shaz, you went to Cambodia a while ago, didn’t you?” As such it will look strange if I start proffering holiday gifts now…
The same is true for the cute t-shirt I found in the 1000 Thank Yous cafe/gallery with a picture of a hand-drawn Lomo camera on the front. There’s absolutely no doubt that was always going to be for me. Even if it was only available in camo-green (so gay). I bought it after stumbling into the private view for the cool joint-show of a couple of Thai artists, a lomo-photographer and illustrator – White Cats and Black and White Photography.
After being plied with fruit juice, I was persuaded to part with cash. Actually that’s a lie – I bought the postcards and t-shirt as soon as I saw them. And then the artist so chuffed he offered to draw my portrait – so now I have an extra very unique souvenir (and one which I couldn’t possibly be intended for anyone else, even if I wanted it to!).
To be fair, I did buy other t-shirts for my Homies – and managed to surrender them upon my return to K-Town. So, I could have done worse. I could have spent all my spare Bahts on the tattoo I was dreaming about all holiday, instead of loitering awkwardly outside the tattoo shops on Khao San Road.
I’m not really so selfish. I just maintain a happy medium between self indulgence and sharing. It’s all about the balance. I’m very well-balanced. And, it makes sense to buy presents that I have more than a passing interest in – in the (admittedly, unlikely) event that I’m unable to pass the gift on to the person I bought it for, it won’t be wasted.