by Mike McHugh
Well, last night was the big night—Chinese gift exchange at the Calcasieu Boat Club. And would you believe it; not everybody brought a gift of Crown Royal! I did count twelve bottles, but I may have been seeing double. And here I thought my contribution, a skeleton wine bottle holder, was revolutionary. Not only that, but (and I’ll let you in on a secret here) I’ve been known to bring things that I, myself, like so that I could take them if they are still available when my turn comes. Hey, there’s nothing in the rules against that, and besides, who would know?
The proven strategy for this exchange, what with so much alcohol on the gift table, is to select the heaviest item. They even let you heft the gifts before selecting one, making it almost a no-brainer, which is good, because nobody at the Boat Club likes to bother with a lot of thinking and whatnot. So, when my number came up, I dutifully employed this strategy and ended up unwrapping a box for an angle grinder. This disappointed me, as I didn’t have any angles to grind. Some axes, maybe, but no angles. What’s more, the labeling specified that it was only for 4-1/2 inch angles. A very specialized tool indeed.
But, things are not always as they appear at the Calcasieu Boat Club Gift Exchange, and so I opened the box to see what was really inside. And what I found was—an angle grinder.
I held out little hope that the item would be stolen away, thus giving me another crack at the table. Angle grinders imply work, which ranks right up there with thinking on the list of unpopular activities among our membership.
Still, I engaged in a aggressive marketing campaign to pawn it off, hoping that at least somebody might have a pressing need to round off the edges of an angle or two. And, as luck would have it, Kenny apparently did have such as need, as he swept it into his grubby hands when his number was drawn.
I decided to shift tactics on my next turn, this time selecting something that was obviously too light to be of any practical use. It turned out I was right, as I unpeeled the paper to reveal a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. shot glass set. The perfect thing to toast Dale Martin when he cruises to victory lane at Daytona. Problem is, the last car that got him there was assembled by Henry Ford himself.
It was near the end by that time, and it seemed that all the Dale, Jr. fans had already taken their turn. So I left the building with the shot glasses in tow.
But things are never over until they’re over, or the beer runs out, whichever comes first. And so, as I am exiting the parking lot, Marvelous Marvin walks out in front of my truck, leaving me the choice to either run him over or stop and talk to him. I decided on the latter, since I had just recently washed the truck and didn’t want to mess it up by getting any of Marvin’s body parts lodged in the grill.
“Stop!” he said. “My wife’s sister is the hugest Dale, Jr. fan. She has every piece of Dale, Jr. memorabilia imaginable, down to and including a commemorative set of lug nuts. But there is one thing she lacks—a genuine Dale, Jr. shot glass set! She would love to trade you for it so she could give it to her.”
I gladly handed the item out the window to him and took her gift in return.
It was a skeleton wine bottle holder.
What was your best score ever from a Chinese gift exchange? And did you ever end up walking away with the same gift you brought with you? And is that even