Cruel Presents

Sincerely, Anonymous

Christmas gifts you’d hate to get, but secretly love to give

SANTA’S GOT guts–if nothing else. You’ve got to give him credit for that. Historically speaking, when the jolly large man decides to leave a big old lump of coal in some poor fella’s Christmas stocking, it’s usually pretty obvious that St. Nick was the bold perpetrator of what can only be perceived as a sooty carbonaceous wake-up call.

When Santa Claus gives a gift–even a nasty one–he stands by it.

Fortunately, there’s only one Santa Claus. The rest of us can avail ourselves of a certain oh-so-pragmatic option that Santa Claus would never stoop to.

It’s called anonymity.

In the workplace, potent anonymous gifts are especially useful:

“Dear Joe: Please accept this bar of soap. Now that you have it, you might want to take a shower, say once a week or so. Frankly, I haven’t breathed in months. Sincerely, Anonymous.”

Sure, it’s more virtuous, more ethical–and a whole lot braver–to simply tell a person, right upfront, what you think of him or her. But even card-carrying tough guys occasionally take the option of anonymity. Think of The Godfather. Was there an autographed greeting card accompanying that bloody horse head or that big fish wrapped in Luca Brazzi’s bulletproof vest? Of course not.

Anonymity is practical. Furthermore, you might say that anonymity is the gateway to creativity, since we’re likely to devise a really interesting gift–a one-way bus ticket to Elko, Nev., for instance, or a case of antiperspirant–if we’re sure our identity will remain unknown. Besides, the anonymity makes the message much more powerful: that personalized toothbrush might have been sent by anyone. Or everyone.

It should be pointed out also that the horse head and the fish were delivered only after all the civilized, straightforward methods had failed; anonymous gifts should be used only as a last resort.

With that in mind, a number of creative services have sprouted up over the last few years, tailor-made to the specific needs of the modern frustrated anonymous gift-giver. The brainchildren of insightful–and twisted–Internet entrepreneurs, these services are, in effect, the demented Christmas elves of anonymous correspondence, the tooth fairies of delicious revenge. For your consideration:

The people at specialize in exactly that: dead roses, a dozen of them ($28, plus $4 shipping), delivered ceremoniously–with an anonymous note of your devising–via U.S. Postal Priority Mail. It’s a poetic way to end a once-budding relationship or to let someone know his or her reputation has wilted. will not send vulgar or threatening messages, so use a little tact and restraint; the roses themselves will pack the required punch. For budget-minded avengers, a half dozen roses cost only $18, plus shipping, and a single dead rose will run you 10 bucks.

If want your unwelcome gift to pack more of a, shall we say, pungent form of poetry, you might want to check out the unique service offered by Based in Sacramento, will gladly package and deliver a certified canine bowel movement to the recipient of your choice. The unexpected doggie logs are vacuum packed in plastic and sent cradled in a nest of tissue paper. The entertaining website offers a sneak-peek–including stats and photos–of Teddy, Jessie, and Buster, the happy doo-producing canines in question, the last of which is described as “a 110-pound powerhouse,” creating “mountains of the most robust bowel movements you’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.” Prices range from Teddy’s $15 “Econo-poop” package to the aforementioned Buster’s $25 “Poo Poo Grande,” and for $16 more you can even order an attractive T-shirt to accompany your gift.

Want something a little less classy–and not so pricey? will send full-color, sound-accompanied greeting cards to anyone with an e-mail address. They will receive a note from Rats2U, with an identity number they can use to access their specialized card on the Rats2U website. Upon accessing their card–which might open with a loud “Go to hell!” or other straightforward remark–your recipient will experience a multimedia butt-whipping. Some of the suggested messages are down-right insulting, with none of the poetry suggested in the previously suggested gifts, but they are effective–and free.

BUT HOW effective are any of these gifts at truly getting across your message in a way that might, you know, make a real difference in your recipients’ life? At–with the slogan “Thoughtful gifts for thoughtless people”–the advertised goal is to achieve some positive results after the shock of your decidedly negative bequest wears off. Mysterymessenger will anonymously send an elaborately packaged “trophy”–your choice between two appropriately profane, gender-specific award categories–complete with an eloquent description of all the offender’s shortcomings, with instructions on how to make amends. If sufficiently embarrassed, the recipient can use mysterymessenger to contact you–still entirely anonymous–with a written apology. Mysterymessenger will even encourage the chastised person to include a thoughtful gift! The cost is $29.95, and can be delivered anywhere in the U.S.A.

Though we steadfastly suggest that such gifts are mainly satisfying to simply think about giving, and we do not in anyway encourage this sort of antagonistic gift-giving, we do hope it’s opened your eyes to the vastly inventive alternatives that exist to rival that timeworn lump of coal, which, if you think of it, isn’t that far removed from a gift-wrapped puppy poop.

Though Santa, guts or no guts, would never dream of putting that in a stocking.

From the December 9-15, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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