starcraft, buying stuff
Mood: awake
Posted on 2007-08-08 09:12:00
Tags: starcraft poll
Words: 98

Cracked open Starcraft last night (found my old CD as well so djedi and I can play at the same time!) and played the first 5 or so Terran missions. Good stuff!

Apparently I was allergic to something I ate or touched on Saturday, because I had a ton of red bumps (that looked like mosquito bites but didn't itch) on my chest and back. Thankfully, they're almost gone now.

Here's a question I've been meaning to ask: Let's say you go into a retail store alone with the expressed purpose of buying a birthday gift for someone.


Comment from cifarelli:

Mmm, Zerglings...

Have you looked at the preview stuff on Starcraft 2? I'm still waiting for the zerg preview to start, but they just updated terran stuff that looks interesting.

Comment from gregstoll:

Ooh, I haven't! I'm still trying to relearn the original units, etc...

Comment from llemma:

I'm confused -- is the birthday girl/boy with you on the shopping excursion? If so, then yeah, maybe it's suboptimal.

Comment from destroyerj:

I was about to indicate that I couldn't fathom it being tacky, but I guess I hadn't thought of this possibility. But even in this situation, I think there are certainly many circumstances where I'd consider it perfectly fine - a lot depends on the attitude taken toward it.

Comment from gregstoll:

No, you're going to the store alone. I'll make that clearer :-)

Comment from omega697:

How can "tacky" even be defined in the absence of other people? Isn't "tacky" a purely social construct? Doesn't it involve (at the very least) doing something that others find distasteful or something like that?

Comment from liz_gregory:

I agree, though I suppose, if you're really socially conscious (like, say, my husband's family can be) you can feel vaguely guilty about it...

Comment from gregstoll:

Maybe "tacky" was the wrong word. I wanted to use "inappropriate" but that seemed too strong for the message I was trying to convey.

Comment from llemma:

In that case, I really think it's harmless. For me, getting someone a gift consists of investing thought and intimacy in deciding what they'd like and then investing time, effort, and/or money in making it happen. (Shared finances don't really change that, because there's still the element of "I'm spending money that's partly mine on something that's just for you.") What else you do on the same trip doesn't factor in.

Comment from llemma:

P.S. Your scale clearly indicates that you don't hang out with people who REALLY shop. The kids I taught last year, they and their families bought stuff for themselves just about every day; "rarely" would have been 2+ times/month.

Comment from omega697:

Damn. I wish Kendra would play StarCraft with me.

Comment from gregstoll:

I was going to say I was very impressed you managed to beat me to my own poll :-)

Comment from omega697:


Comment from onefishclappin:

So, can you explain exactly why you think it's tacky to buy something for yourself?
The way I see it is if you are at the store and see something you wanted and grab it, there's no problem. (I guess if you went to an extreme and spent your entire shopping trip digging for stuff for yourself at the expense of effort put into the present choice, that would be bad. But I think that falls more into putting proper thought and consideration into choosing a present, not only buying one item at a time. How environmentally unsound! Combine shopping trips! Carpool! Drive hybrids! ;)

Comment from gregstoll:

Sure, as I was discussing this with destroyerj before lunch. (I should add I had a feeling this was a weird opinion to have...)

The whole buying each other gifts thing is already a little weird since people can just buy stuff for themselves. It's even weirder when I buy stuff for djedi since our finances are shared. So I think of going out and buying something for someone as an experience in itself. Buying something for myself at the same time cheapens the experience and feels like I'm buying a gift for myself at the same time. It takes away from the excitement of the gift somehow, I guess it reinforces the fact that the person I'm buying this for could as well have just gone out and bought it his/herself.

Comment from liz_gregory:

you asked the wrong question.

Tacky is not the word you want to use, unless you're overly worried about what Other People will think of you on this solitary expedition.

"cheapens the experience" maybe - but that is still a highly individual experience, and, although I can see what you're talking about, it doesn't work the same for me...

Comment from onefishclappin:

Ah, maybe this is a "shopping" vs "buying" thing. When I go "shopping", I often am wandering stores looking for things that peak my interest (for myself or for others). If I go "buying", I usually have something particular in mind. When shopping, I have caught myself getting distracted by something for myself or someone else when I went with the general idea of "something for someone particular". It seems like, to me, that the best presents I get are for someone for whom I'm not shopping. (I'm also very bad about buying stuff for myself; I still feel guilty about buying a $20 swimsuit top, which just makes no sense since $20 is such a drop in the bucket of our finances.)
And I understand the shared finances thing. I don't feel like I can "splurg" on David since I'm just cutting into his available money by doing so. A good present is something that someone would want for themselves, but for some reason wouldn't get for themselves. Often that reason is money, and I feel betrayed if I declare "I can't buy this for myself, it's too expensive." and so my spouse goes and buys it for me, from our joint money.
Ramble. Sorry if this is disjoint, I'm still on a cough syrup hangover.

Comment from djedi:

True. The best presents are things that someone would like but they haven't bought for themselves yet. This could be because they didnt' know about it, weren't sure they'd like it, don't buy a lot of things for themselves in general/don't go shopping often, costs too much, etc.

I know a lot of people who say "that'd be nice" to an object but don't ever get over the activation energy to get it. Gifts work well for these people.

Also, giving someone something that you think they'll like but they had never really thought about, like a good CD or another great gift idea.

I also loved to be surprised by things like Animaniacs or Scooby Doo on DVD that I had no idea existed.

Comment from liz_gregory:

"Activation energy" cool!!! :)

*giggle* I just had to comment on that usage - I love teaching chemistry!!

Comment from destroyerj:

I also keyed in on the "shopping" vs "buying" distinction. As I explained to Greg in our discussion, I find the experience to take part in the thinking of the gift (which happens during "shopping") and in the giving of the gift, but the obtaining, or "buying", of the gift, is just logistics.

But sure, if the buying process is actually part of the experience for you, than I can see that it would lessen the experience, but I wouldn't think it's tacky.

Comment from djedi:

Right, definitely a distinction.

Comment from llemma:

I actually don't mind when my spouse goes and buys it for me, because usually it's not that we can't afford it exactly but that I can't manage to give myself permission.

Comment from skimmerduk:

I completely understand your point...the daunting trick of trying to make a gift special somehow. Back before I mysteriously lost the ability to manage my time, my approach was to find or make something representative of our relationship as a memento to certain shared experiences. Such things never ended up being super-useful or expensive and probably only appealed to the sentimental types. Furthermore, ideas for such things get more elusive after you've known someone for more than a couple gift-giving holidays AND are only achievable in the first place if the relevant relationship is close enough to actually have significant shared experiences. Otherwise, I've never been a very good gift-giver :)

Sooo, if focusing your thoughts during a shopping trip is your way of achieving the same goal of specialness, I think it's more admirable than weird :)

Comment from djedi:

It depends. I think it is in the direction of tacky, but it depends more on the person than this one particular action. The point of the trip and buying (birthday) gifts is to be thinking about someone else and what they would like. Extreme version: In the middle of that to be thinking about yourself can give the impression that you can't take 5 minutes from thinking about yourself to do something for someone else.

However, this is you and if you're shopping for something for my birthday and happen upon something that appeals to you, the only issue is that you may give away what sorta thing you were thinking about for my gift. :P

Besides, most of the gifts we buy each other are things we end up doing together, like Starcraft. :)

Comment from wonderjess:

I bet it was that extremely cold and brightly colored popsicle. hehe. also, I get the joint account thing -- I always think it's weird when mom and dad go buy each other expensive things. but not as weird as those ads where someone surprises their spouse with a new luxury car. like whoa, that's their money too, right?

Comment from gregstoll:

The popsicle is on the very short list of possibilities. (the other thing is that steak sandwich I had at lunch. mmmmmm)

Seriously - "Surprise, we're in debt!"

Comment from cifarelli:

I suppose if you're one of those couples that doesn't do joint finances (or the ones that have "my account," "your account," and "our account") and you were really super-rich, you could justify surprising your spouse with a luxury car that you spent "your" money on. If Andrew ever did that to me, though, I'd kill him (we don't have any separate accounts). Okay, I wouldn't kill him, but I'd eviscerate him verbally and we'd go return the car. :P

I have a hard time with buying presents for Andrew (my hubby), too, since all our money is joint money. Especially as he really likes his "stuff" -- gaming books, cds, games, books, Magic and WoW cards, etc. and is really hard to shop for in terms of things like clothing, jewelry, etc. If I just buy him something from his list of wants, I always wonder if I wouldn't be better off just letting him go buy something himself -- then he can get whatever is his highest priority, as opposed to whatever I happen to randomly pick off the list. This is even more awkward now that I am a stay-at-home parent and thus he is the only one bringing in income. It's not like I feel that the money isn't "mine" -- it just feels weird to spend money that he earned on stuff for him that he didn't pick out himself. :P

As for the original question, I'm with the crowd. It's not tacky or inappropriate to pick up something for yourself while you're out shopping for a gift for someone else. It's problematic if you're "shopping" and you end up getting stuff for yourself and/or other people and not finding anything for the original intended recipient, but as long as you get what you set out for (whether that was predetermined beforehand or found during the trip), I don't see a problem.

Comment from gregstoll:

That's a good point. The idea of couples having separate accounts always seemed weird to me, but to each his own I guess.

That's true...but the time and effort you put in to trying to find something he would like counts too :-)

I guess my feeling isn't terribly rational. I'll try to relax about it, since nobody feels the same way!

Comment from djedi:

No, I totally see where you're coming from. But there is a distinction between shopping and buying, and I assume we're not talking a situation where you go out and buy me one gift and 4 things for yourself. So yeah, relax. :)

Comment from brittongregory:

Hold on -- as far as I can tell, you've basically said that it cheapens the experience *for you* to buy something personal when you're shopping for someone else. In this case, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? Rational or irrational, it's between you and yourself, and more importantly, it's part of what makes you unique. No need to go changing it just 'cause your friends don't feel the same way.

Now, if you feel that it's a *problem*, well, that's a different story. But from where I stand, it's just a charming little quirk that adds one more Unique Thing To Like About Greg.

As for separate accounts, while Liz and I don't do this, I can certainly see where that comes from. It cuts through any negotiation you would otherwise do if one person wanted to buy something the other person would definitely not use. I seem to remember hearing a few times that the #1 cause of spousal arguments is Money, so this would be one way to lessen the chances of such an argument arising.

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