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Nashville Scene Shopping Simple

By Walter Jowers

DECEMBER 15, 1997:  It's time for me to hunt and gather wife Brenda's Christmas present. Brenda is a no-nonsense, short-fingernailed woman, blessed with an unspoiled natural beauty and a temperament to match. She's a strong woman who can bait her own hook, change her own tire, and fire a shotgun without squealing. She's the kind of gal who could've gone with her husband on the Oregon Trail instead of waiting to be "sent for" later.

Brenda's practical through and through. Over the course of a year, she'll wear less makeup than the average TV weatherman wears between 6 and 7 o'clock. And, I'm proud to say, she doesn't own even one pair of gold or silver shoes.

There is no downside to this, except for one little thing: I can't just go out and buy her some sparkly thing for Christmas. If I sat her down in front of the fireplace, poured two glasses of wine and slipped a tennis bracelet on her wrist, she'd just turn her head and give me that quizzical tilt-headed look, like Nipper, the RCA pup. Then she'd fall over laughing.

The gift problem isn't just limited to Christmas. Brenda's not the kind of woman who would take kindly to a make-up gift. For instance, if I had some drunken friends over, and one of 'em set fire to her grandmother's tablecloth, there would be no buying my way out of that. If I came home with a forgive-me fur coat, she'd use it to start up the charcoal on the grill.

Luckily for me, I have no drunken friends or unspeakably bad habits. As far as I know, the only thing I do that annoys Brenda regularly is telling people about the malapropisms she invents. I try to tell her that I'm not mocking her, I'm sharing her genius with others. For crying out loud, this is the woman who saw some heat shadows on the road and quickly recognized them as an optional delusion.

This is the woman who took charge of a project at work and told me she just had to take the balls by the horn. The woman who said she liked laboratory retrievers. The woman who caught a glimpse of a gun under a man's coat and said she was pretty sure he was an unmarked cop.

Brenda's not especially proud of her inventions. On the other hand, I would consider making a limited deal with the devil--like maybe he could take one of my little toes to hell--if he'd grant me the deluxe, prolific version of Brenda's malapropism gift. If I could come up with enough stuff to fill one little book a year, there might be way for us to retire before we're 80.

When it comes time to buy Brenda a present, I'm on my own. I can't just pick up a copy of Redbook and look for hints. I know, because I look at the women's magazines when I go to the beauty shop where I get my hair cut. (Yes, I go to a beauty shop, because barber shops smell like butt-smoke and hair tonic.) At the beauty shop, the only men's magazine is GQ, which is a magazine for men who want to learn about moisturizers.

Women's magazines say that women want to be pampered. Well, not my woman. After Brenda gave birth to our daughter, I gave her a day at a local spa. She accepted it graciously, but I know she didn't like the seaweed wrap, which left a funny smell under her fingernails for a week.

Just the other day, I heard a TV anchorwoman chirp, "Never buy a woman anything that plugs in." I looked up at the TV, checked the anchorwoman's manicure, makeup, and big-ass sparkly earrings, and thought to myself, This woman is the anti-Brenda. I must do just the opposite of what she says.

So Brenda's getting a coffeepot for Christmas. And I mean a real-enough coffeepot, not some cappuccino machine with shiny handles and slurpy sound effects. If Brenda wants cappuccino, she can buy it pre-made at the gas station, like I do. I'm going out today in search of a coffeepot that'll make strong, uncomplicated coffee for a strong, uncomplicated woman. The kind of coffee a woman like Brenda might've enjoyed by a campfire, somewhere along the Oregon trail.

Visit Walter's Web site at http://www.nashscene.com>. Or e-mail him at Walter.Jowers@nashville.com.

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