All-Purpose Gifts--A Desperately Needed List

  • Posted on Dec 23, 1980


This may well be the last Christmas where finding gifts for those who have everything is a problem. With inflation creating poor people at a record rate, Christmases to come will likely be easier for givers.

Until then, we're still stuck with people for whom we want to buy a gift, but they simply have everything.

 Or they at least have the time and money to buy themselves everything, and they don't hesitate when they need something. Worst of all, they may be the kind of people who only want a certain item, and nothing else will do.

They may need gloves, but only Isotoners with leather racing stripes and brass grommets make them feel right. So we end up mechanically and dutifully buying the exact item on their lists, aware that we are nothing more than servants bringing home the ordered merchandise. 

For such people, and just in time I hope, here is a list of 10 all-purpose gifts. These are the gifts that almost no one has even heard about, or if they have they would never think of buying or themselves. Even if they could. 
1. A jar of Iowa topsoil. It's ten times more useful than a jar of Mt. St. Helens ash—if grows stuff, after all—and in 50 years it'll be even more valuable. At least at the rate it's disappearing. 

2. A mood T-shirt. These T-shirts respond with changing colors to body temperature and moisture, turning a blazing yellow when the wearer is happy, red when he-she's excited, blue when thoughtful, gray when depressed. Note: they unravel rapidly when the wearer tells lies. Not recommended for politicians or lawyers, unless worn as an undershirt only. 

3. Electric belts. These run on nickel-cadmium batteries and are designed to adjust automatically for changing waistlines. No more embarrassing loosening of the belt after that big holiday feast; the belt automatically lets go an inch or two. 

4. A LIBERAL. Some of the better places still have them, and I suggest you pick one up right away, before they're all picked over. Or sold out. 

5. A parts-catcher for American cars. These are nothing more than a steel shelf that bolts under the car to catch falling mufflers, alternators, nuts, bolts—things that the newer American cars especially are prone to lose. The owner just periodically cleans out the parts-catcher and puts the stuff back on.  Or throws them away. 

6. Bread sawdust. For home bakers who want to put that extra roughage into their loaves, just like the commercial bakers do. Comes in 50-pound, bags, and is cheaper by far than the cheapest laxative. Makes the bread chewy, and leftover crusts can be used for kindling.

7. Meatless meat. For those vegetarian eaters, this is real meat protein and texture without that annoying problem of having to kill animals to get it. Or soybeans or any other plants either. Made from compressed air, No. 2 fuel oil, and cow saliva. Not recommended for children under 12. 

8. ELECTRIC LICENSE plate warmers. For that annual task of changing license plates in sub-zero cold, these little electric sleeves warm the coldest plates almost immediately so they can be removed without freezing the fingers and cracking the neighbors' windows with hurled invectives. A must for Iowans.

9. An in-the-head brain scrambler. This is for super-smart people (MENSA members, for example) who feel that their brains make them social out-casts. Similar to the Ronco in-the-egg scrambler, the smart person puts their head on a pedestal, and a vibrating needle shoots up and scrambles their brains, right in their heads. Guaranteed to lower the IQ by a minimum of 50 points immediately, thereby enhancing social acceptance of eggheads.

10. Finally, and most useful of all, an electric bun warmer, for those bun-chilling Iowa days and nights. It hooks over the belt and straps onto each thigh, and fits under the tightest designer jeans with a minimum of discomfort. Guaranteed to warm the coldest buns.

There; only 48 shopping hours left to Christmas. Hurry before they go on sale.

Posted in
  • Humor
  • Cedar Valley Chronicles
Cedar Valley Chronicles Photo

“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.


Contact Scott

Contact Scott Photo