I was working at Smash CDs on St. Mark's Place. The hours were horrible and the boss occasionally, was horrible, too. But the perks, and the company, were great. 25 years later and I still miss some of those guys. We exchanged gifts the few Decembers we had worked together. One person in particular was very hard to shop for. He liked very little and was not open to anything new. He was set in a certain time, called cab drivers "Mac" and ordered "screwdrivers" and "highballs" at rock clubs. But he was a diehard Yankees fan.
After a few days of wracking my brain, I found something unique at a fun antique shop called, "Fun Antiques." It was a proof of outtakes from the 1977 Yankees team picture session. It measured 16x24, was glossy, and featured, I think, 6 different shots of what became the official team photo used in the yearbook. It wasn't $100, but it wasn't $10, either. This was perfect.
The day we exchanged gifts at the shop, I presented this tubular thing in colored paper to my friend. He unwrapped it, gave it a solid 3 second stare and asked, "What is this?" I explained, "It is a proof of outtakes from the 1977 Yankees team picture. Very few exist! I think it came directly from the Yankees offices!" The expression on his face hadn't changed. He just said, "Oh. Uh...thanks." "You don't like it? You don't think that's cool?" He started cackling his patented high-pitched laugh, the one when he is truly amused with himself, and offered, "What am I gonna do with it? Hang it on my wall? Hahahahaaa!"
I was frozen. And mortified. I don't remember if I said anything, but I know what I was thinking, and it included a few multisyllabic C-K words. He said, "I have your gift in the car. Be right back." He walked out.
"What am I gonna do with it?"
Did he really say that?
A few minutes later, he walked back in carrying something that was taller and skinnier than Grace Jones. I had to come around from behind the counter to take hold of it. "Merry Christmas!" I tore the paper off. It was a pair of six foot drumsticks. He started cackling, "Isn't that GREAT?!" I graciously thanked him, told him it was very cool and said "Merry Christmas." The next Christmas, we no longer were working together, but I did see him around the holidays. I informed him that I still hadn't found a 18 foot drum set.
He didn't get it.