The holidays are here, bringing the promise of good cheer, the scent of fresh-baked cookies, and the steadily increasing stress over choosing the proper gift for your significant other. Then there are the stretches of quality time together, often in high-pressure environments like crowded airports, when mildly annoying little habits can blossom into relationship-wrecking deal-breakers.
So this Christmas, why not kill two birds with one stone and choose a gift that minimizes your darling dear's most aggravating qualities?
DISCLAIMER: I feel no need to make my significant other less annoying. If anything, I am the annoying one. Please consider this a series of suggestions from the other side, some helpful hints for solving problems like Maria, straight from Maria.
Take into account the nature of your beloved's annoyingness. Perhaps he/she is too chatty, yammering endlessly when you'd prefer a solid half-hour of time to yourself. Consider purchasing something to entertain them! For instance, the complete Twin Peaks on DVD. Or try True Detective Season One, on Blu-ray. The conspiracy theories should keep them occupied for weeks.
Or perhaps there's a specific habit that's been bothering you for years. Smoking? Nose-picking? That annoying thing she does with her cereal bowl? Forgetting to close the door when he takes a dump? Why not try nudging them in the right direction with something like The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg. So it's subtle, not such a sledgehammer that the whole family will know you're fighting about the nail-drumming thing again.
• The Power of Habit, $9.78 via Amazon.
Is your beau a filthy pig whose messes you are tired of mopping up? What better to put under the tree than self-propelled robot vacuum cleaner? Tis truly better to give than to receive. Ball out and buy the iRobot Roomba 880, because your honey deserves the finer things.
• iRobot Roomba 880, $699.99 from BedBathandBeyond.com.
Are you subject to an endless litany of complaints about the cold from the very minute October rolls around? These Ragg Wool Slipper Socks look goofy, yes, but look at it this way: It's easier to look away from silly slippers than avoid another fight over the thermostat.
• Women's & Men's Ragg Wool Slipper Socks by Acorn, $49.95 from TheVermontCountryStore.com.
Or maybe your sweetie is an inveterate cover-stealing motherfucker who leaves you shivering through the long winter nights. Why not give him his very own separate duvet cover, allowing you to sleep blissfully through the night in all the comfort offered by a standard European hotel room? Pick up two fluffy down alternative comforters in the color of your choice from L.L. Bean, and never struggle for a corner of your sad quilt again.
• PrimaLoft Down Alternative Comforter, Warm, $129.00 from LLBean.com.
Perhaps your lover is late everywhere, all the time, Jesus Christ it's been thirty minutes what is taking so long? Obviously that smartphone isn't getting the job done, so perhaps it's time to return to the good, old-fashioned wristwatch. You can pick up a snazzy Fossil model with lots of wiz-bang dials for little more than a hundred bucks. Look thoughtful, while simultaneously telegraphing the importance of punctuality.
• Grant Chronograph Leather Watch, $115.00 from Fossil.com.
Or maybe you're dealing with someone who's just...maybe...a tad...sometimes...every now and then...how shall I put this... CLINGY. Curb your urge to get them a kitten and instead, purchase a Tamagotchi. Bonus nostalgia points!
• Tamagotchi Friends Digital Friend, $19.99 from ToysRUs.com.
And if all else fails, you can always passively encourage a January Caribbean getaway with his buds so you can have some goddamned peace and quiet by cramming some really nice luggage under the tree. Here, this expandable piece by Delsey comes recommended by no less than the august authorities at Good Housekeeping. Go get yourself a massage while he's gone.
• The Delsey Luggage Helium Superlite Spinners 29 Inch Expandable Suiter Trolley, $146.49 from Amazon.com.
What's your proven tactic? Suggestions welcome.