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  December 25, 2008 Issue                                       

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For Christmas, what is a wife’s best friend? Duh!

You may have to bother Santa Claus for gifts for children, but when it comes to wives, one gift will never fail to please, according to Rob Slack, and there is no point in waiting for it to come down the chimney.

As a husband relatively new to married life, I have been watching the holiday ads carefully to figure out how to buy for my wife. The goal, I realize, is not merely to satisfy the basic requirements of gift-giving. An uninspired husband-to-wife gift, I have learned, is a recipe for marital disaster. Give her a three-speed mixer or a vacuum cleaner on Christmas, and you’re likely to be sleeping on your cousin Jim’s couch by Valentine’s Day. The stakes are extremely high.

So I have been watching the TV ads closely and taking studious notes. I have learned that your wife should be more than pleased with your gift; she should be overwhelmed by it. If she responds with mere gratitude or contentment, you’re in trouble. Hope you signed a pre-nuptial agreement in that case. Instead, when she opens her gift, her eyes should sparkle, and her entire being should melt with otherworldly delight.

There is only one known object guaranteed to create such gift-giving shock and awe: Diamonds. Women, it seems, crave diamonds the way men crave women. For this reason, diamonds are a man’s best friend. This, at least, is what those endless holiday jewelry ads seem to suggest.

This year, I aspire to that moment in the holiday season jewelry commercial when the husband dashingly slips a diamond-encrusted pendant around his wife’s neck—bringing her to speechless tears. I suppose it’s because I need a gift that is not only going to enchant but disable her critical faculties for a month or two.

If you notice in those jewelry ads, as the wife is experiencing sheer bliss, the husband generally has a slightly different expression—one of relief. It’s a look that says, “I got this thing figured out.”

When the light first falls on that diamond after it’s unwrapped, dazzling all who stand in its orbit, her thoughts are at least momentarily distracted from what an undeserving slob you usually are. That moment of distraction is easily worth six months of credit card bills.

For my wife to have the same power over me, she merely has to be her beautiful, charming self. This is the exact reason that the holiday ads compel husbands to buy diamonds. For myself, I know if my plan is to rely on my own beguiling charm. I’m in big trouble. It’s a situation the Pentagon calls an “asymmetrical” battle — and it’s why we husbands need to get our hands on some more potent ammunition from time to time.

Remember: No matter what your wife says she wants, what she really wants is diamonds. My wife claimed this year to want oven mitts. Over mitts? How can you make eyes sparkle and bodies melt with oven mitts? It’s impossible. Will oven mitts make other women jealous? Will oven mitts make your hands, ears and neck resemble those of the movie stars you see in People magazine?

My wife and I both know that “oven mitt” is simply code for “diamonds.” It is the one substance that can induce marital amnesia, making her forget how many times during the past month I failed to replace the toilet paper, take out the trash and wash the dishes.

It’s pretty clear to me now that a joyful marriage can not have too many diamonds. No matter what your wife may say, there is always one right answer: Diamonds. If my wife thinks I’m going to fall for that oven mitt ruse, for instance, she has another think coming. For Christmas, I can assure you my wife is going to receive fistfuls of heart-shaped diamond pendants until she becomes suitably overwhelmed. If any material thing can command undying love, it would be diamonds.

To all of you husbands wandering the malls in last minute confusion: Relax. Stop trying to decipher a year’s worth of your wife’s Christmas gift clues. She doesn’t really want what she was pretending to want anyway. You thought she might have been spoiling for a pair of skis or tickets to see U2 or a gift card for Borders. Forget it. What she really wants are diamonds. And the bigger and more sparkly, the better.

And forget about trying to fool her with cubic zirconium! No man except a jeweler can tell the difference between cubic zirconium and real diamonds, but every woman can. They don’t even need a magnifying glass. It’s in their DNA.

So this gift-giving thing turns out to be a lot easier than you thought if you’ll just take my advice. You cannot go wrong with a small fortune in diamonds, and you will not hear one word of complaint about not taking out the trash, washing the dishes or replacing the toilet paper — at least until next April or so.