He was carrying around his baby, and his wife had another one on the way. A few times he has built things for the gift exchange. I was told by others that he's great at making crafts. He told me about building a five-foot-high Jenga game. As I was taking his picture, he said, "Don't get my bald spot." I told him I didn't notice a bald spot. But later, during the gift exchange, I told him I noticed it when he grabbed a gift. I said, "In a few more years, it will look like you're wearing a yarmulke."
I talked to Steve's mom a lot about games. She mentioned knowing somebody who plays backgammon professionally. I didn't know there was such a thing. I mentioned meeting Richard Lederer at a party in Scripps Ranch, and she knew his two kids. They are always on ESPN in professional poker tournaments. His daughter Annie Duke recently won two million dollars in the World Series of Poker and appeared the next day on Letterman. We ended up discussing various poker and blackjack strategies.
A little after 9:00 p.m. Steve made everyone go into the room with the presents. Everyone was given a number and that was the order for picking presents. I was surprised at all the strategies. I overheard one couple going into great detail about how to get the best present. They were saying, "Grab the biggest one -- it will always have good stuff." Another woman said she always gets the ones with Jewish wrapping paper, because those gifts always seem to be the best. I said, "If this was a real Jewish party, the receipt would be given along with the gift."
Steve explained the rules. Basically, when it was your turn to pick a gift, you could do that, or you could steal a previous gift someone had opened. He said, "One year we had a bunch of lottery tickets, and everyone kept stealing those." I said, "If someone tried to steal those from me, I'd scratch them off first." He replied, "You wouldn't be invited back."
The gifts started off slow. There was a stuffed Elmo from Sesame Street. There was a Sewing Genie. A few people laughed, because that was a gift from the previous year. There was a Darth Vader mask that said different things when you pressed different buttons. Steve reminded everyone, "If you bring a gift that requires batteries, have batteries in it, so we can see exactly what it does." There was a box with lingerie, and one of the pregnant women at the party got this gift. Early on, there was a boom box. That gift ended up being stolen at least 18 times. Another popular gift was a big red bowl that had silver around the edges. An older guy brought that and said, "I didn't know it would be so popular. I saw it when I was walking down the aisle at Costco." One box contained a tequila-making kit. That made the rounds a few times.
There was an anatomically correct torso that looked like something you would see at a Jeffrey Dahmer party. I jokingly said, "Can I borrow that for the weekend?" Nobody laughed. I later heard a woman say to her husband, "Get your hands off my torso." That got a laugh.
In the middle of the gift exchange, Tim and I went into the kitchen to get some chocolate chip cookies. We both agreed the dessert table was a better place to be than the crowded living room.
Of course, we made it back in time to pick our gifts. He got a giant stuffed Shrek with a Shrek 2 DVD.
When it was my turn to pick, I stole the stereo. It was pointless, because I knew it would soon be taken from me. I said, "Look, I am going to donate this stereo to the Toys for Tots program. So if any of you steal this gift from me, you're really stealing it from a child." Nobody bought it. I was hit in the head with wrapping paper thrown by at least five different people.
The next person took my stereo. I picked another gift and got a crème brûlée set. Lynn wanted that, so we made a trade. I got her husband's stuffed Shrek with the DVD.
Didi was a cute Asian girl who showed up late. She had a big bag that contained different lotions. That gift was stolen a few times. When she stole the stereo, one woman came up to her next and said, "Didi, it's so great to see you!" Didi was saying, "Thanks, great to see you too." The woman continued, with her arms out, "It's so nice to see you." Didi looked at her, confused. The gal said, "I'm taking your stereo." Everyone laughed.
With all the numbers involved, it reminded me of my fantasy-football draft. But with a good pick there, you only get a Marshall Faulk. You don't get a stereo!
One of the gifts was a remote-control truck. The guy who got that seemed stoked. There was also a volcano kit. It looked like fun. One guy said, "Part of me thinks this will be educational for my kids. Another part of me wonders if my garage will blow up." I looked on the box to see if it came with lava. As people walked around looking at gifts to steal, this guy would say, "You can take this and make volcanoes in your living room." Nobody stole it.
The last gift chosen was the funniest. The person who picked it was the person who'd brought it. It was a Bar Master. I'm not sure what that even is.
After the gifts were given out, people vigorously made trades with each other. It was fun listening to the negotations.
Steve and Kori gave out prizes to the people who brought the top three presents. One of the things they gave was a case of Jewish beer. It was called He Brew. The guy who won that said, "I'm not even a drinker." Someone else said, "It's time to start. Or you can break those out now and we can try some."