The pressure of gift wrapping

Alabama Living Magazine
Illustration by Dennis Auth

Since the dawn of civilization, men have designed and built some incredible things. With nothing but primitive tools and methods, men created iconic structures like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, and the Roman Colosseum, all beautiful, complex structures that have survived the test of time.
Modern-day man can take credit for conceiving and constructing wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sears Tower, the Superdome, and the Hoover Dam.
So why is it that when you give a man a small cardboard box, a roll of wrapping paper, and some cellophane tape, then tell him to gift wrap the package, he will totally screw it up?
I am one of those men. If my wife asks me to wrap something, I freeze like a possum in the headlights. It’s not just me; uncountable numbers of men all over the world suffer under the pressure of having to correctly put a piece of colorful paper over a little box. I think it’s time we form a support group to help the millions of us who have this terrible affliction. Let’s call it Wrapaholics Anonymous.
“Hello, my name is Joe, and I’m a wrapaholic.”
“Hello, Joe!”
“Today was a rough day. My wife wanted me to wrap a Christmas present for my nephew. I began sweating the minute she pulled out the scissors and the Scotch tape, because, as all of you know by now, those are my triggers. Then I got the shakes when she handed me the package and the roll of paper. And when she brought out the ribbon, well, I went into the full-blown dry heaves. I think it has something to do with my mom forcing me to wrap gifts when I was in kindergarten. My inner child just can’t take this.”
“Thank you for sharing, Joe.”
I’ve tried many times, I really have, but I just can’t properly put pretty paper around a package of any kind. I’ll start by carefully measuring the correct amount of paper to go around the box, but usually I’m about an inch short. This forces me to cut a small strip to patch my mistake, which destroys the look of the whole thing. Or, I cut 6 inches too much, requiring me to me to recut the paper, which will never be in a straight line. Then the ends don’t fold in properly, leaving both of those little paper triangle thingies two different sizes. My descent into Hades has begun.
At this point, my wife usually walks in to see why I’m yelling and cursing. I will get a look that’s a cross between pity and disgust, before she finally says firmly, ”Hand that to me.” Within 12 seconds, she has stripped the box of my not-so-handiwork and re-wrapped it with paper that’s stretched over the box so tight that it looks a private’s bed in an army barracks. I believe that it’s some kind of female superpower when it comes to this aspect of our lives. I am Captain Klutz, The Unwrappable, and my wife becomes She-Wrap, Goddess of the Colored Paper.
I believe that my gender is not genetically equipped for this task. Men are the hunters, women are gatherers and gift wrappers. In fact, if a man can properly wrap a package, he probably needs to have his testosterone levels checked.
So, the next time my wife asks me to wrap a present, I will get in my car, drive to the nearest Dollar General store and buy another great invention that was undoubtedly created by a man: the gift bag. I know my limitations.

Joe Hobby is a standup comedian, a syndicated columnist, and a long-time writer for Jay Leno. He’s a member of Cullman Electric Cooperative and is very happy now that he can use Sprout from his little place on Smith Lake. Contact him at


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