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Man, Oh Man! Another Tie?

Audi TT

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It's Christmastime once again in the Bayou City, and we're all bracing for subzero temperatures and torrential ice storms. Right? Okay, that might be true only for that idiot who forgot to buy his wife an anniversary gift last week (note to self: buy gift). One thing that's true, though, about this time of year is that most women already have begun thinking about what they will give those close to them in this holiday season. And almost just as definite is that many of these women have absolutely no idea whatsoever what to give the men in their lives. So most of these men will be getting the typical Christmas gift staples: underwear, socks and ties. Now, it's sometimes nice to get a new tie, and God forbid we men have to go through life wearing sacred socks (holy... get it?). And of course there's a certain charm in opening up a gift that's been wrapped by that special someone and finding a pair of red-and-green boxers embroidered with the loving caption "Santa's Little Helper," but come on, ladies! How about getting your man something he wants this year!

Toys

If you really want to get him something he'll love, something he might never have asked for in a million years, something that will let him know that you appreciate all he does day in and day out for you, then get him the ultimate in boy toys. Head over to Momentum Audi, 713-596-3300, and check out the brand new 2002 Audi TT. With a 1.8-liter turbo engine and acceleration of zero to 100 kph in 6.4 seconds, the Audi TT is without a doubt the car for the discerning man to take out onto the open road with the windows down, the music cranked and the wind whipping through his hair.

Now, if electronics are more your man's style, or just more within your budget, then look no further than Phone Warehouse, 713-777-9494. Get him the Panasonic KXTG2680 2.4 GHz digital spread cordless phone with digital answering machine. This is the newest and most high-tech phone on the market today. It comes complete with talking caller ID on the base and the handset. Yes, talking caller ID.

There are so many new items on the market this season, so many electronic gadgets! The hard part in choosing which gadget to get a man is not trying to figure out what he wouldn't want. That's simple. He wants all of them. The hard part is weeding through the endless clutter of "new" and "state-of-the-art" gadgets and finding the genuinely unique and altogether cool gems that are out there. If he's into music, then you can't go wrong with a portable MP3 player. Creative Nomad and Sony both make fantastic models in the $200 range. Or perhaps he enjoys being one of the "early adopters" and insists on having the next big thing as soon as it hits the marketplace. Then this winter, say hello to the brand-new iPod from Apple. Compatible with Mac computers, the iPod is the next wave of MP3 players.

A digital camcorder would also make a great gift idea. This year the hottest models seem to be from the Sony and Panasonic camps. And if still pictures are more his cup of tea, then there is no beating the Canon Power Shot G1 digital camera.

Is he in the market for a computer? Maybe it's time to invest in a new laptop. After all, PCs have become so pass, and with the prices of some models like the Compaq Presario 1800T dipping below the $1,800 mark, it's getting harder and harder to argue that laptops are just too expensive. If, though, you're not ready to sink two grand into a new computer simply to make it mobile, then you might consider a Palm Pilot. The prices range from $100 to $500 and come with any of a number of applications. Look for great units from Palm, Sony, Handspring, Casio and Compaq.

For the truly die-hard tech junkie, though, there is no cooler mark of frivolous fancy than owning the Philips Pronto Pro TSU6000. A universal remote, it has 8MB of memory, which will allow him to program it to do everything but walk the dog. It's a bit pricey, ringing in at a healthy $1,000, but then again, it don't get much cooler than this.

Sports

Men and sports typically go together like stars and stripes, America and baseball, and couches and potatoes. It doesn't matter if your man is a spectator or an athlete; if he's a sports enthusiast, then you can find something at a number of places. If he's more the athletic type (or thinks he is), then take your pick from a handful of great athletic supply stores in the Houston area. Run Wild Sports, 713-622-9453, at Uptown Park has running watches and heart-rate monitors that will help him be a better runner. Well, he can at least look the part and know exactly how fast his heart is beating when it's pounding out of his chest after his brisk 100-yard dash.

 

Academy (www.academy.com) is a great place to get him outfitted for his ritual of pain. Stock up on winter apparel so he won't have an excuse to skip his run, even if Houston happens to experience the coldest, harshest and most unrelenting winter in recent history.

If it's shoes he needs, then it's shoes he shall have. Head over to Fleet Feet Sports, 713-520-6353, and surprise him with a new pair of running shoes. Not only will you be updating his running image, but you'll also be saving him the agony of suffering through shin splints. After all, a pair of shoes can last only so long, and the shoes that he bought ten years ago are now not only absolutely hideous to look at, but they're also about as useful as a set of flat tires. And just as it is hard to drive a car on a flat tire, so is it to run in deflated running shoes.

Perhaps, though, he's not really the running type. Maybe fishing is more his speed. Well, then you're in luck, because Angler's Edge, 713-993-9981, has been the premier fly-fishing outfitter in Hous-ton since 1986. The store carries the most up-to-date, state-of-the-art fly-fishing equipment from Sage, Scott, Winston, Abel, Tibor, Hardy, Hart and others, as well as premium clothing and gear from Patagonia, Ex Officio, Simms, CC Filson, Revo and other first-rate manufacturers. They also offer lessons for fishermen of various skill levels.

Fashion

There are other avenues to take, though, when buying the perfect gift for the perfect man. Think of something he needs. Look around the house. Keep an eye out for subtle clues. Still not working? Here's a hint: Look inside his closet. Christmastime reminds us of miracles, and what would be more miraculous than getting him to replace those worn-out pants (you know: the ones with the frayed cuffs and the hole in the seat that he fondly refers to as his own custom air-conditioning). Take a stroll down to Bill Walker Clothier, 713-871-9811, and help your man give his fashion sense a bit of a boost. This year the hot items they're promoting cover a wide array of styles, yet they all have one thing in common: style.

Now, it's true that for some men, gifts of this caliber might come as a bit of a shock. Some might even put up some resistance, but fear not. Stand strong and you shall prevail. Play to his sense of pride. Keep reaffirming how dashing he looks in his new threads. In no time at all, you'll have him striving to be a member of the few, the proud, the chic. Saks Fifth Avenue, 713-627-0500, is a great place to find some fantastic fashion ideas for him. If nothing there strikes your fancy there, then hop into Lord & Taylor, 713-627-8100. Other men's stores worth checking out include Men's Wearhouse, 713-529-6191, Lucho, 713-961-3577, Abercrombie & Fitch, 713-629-6221, and The Custom Shop Shirt-makers and Tailors in The Park Shops Center, 713-655-8858.

After you've taken care of his ward-robe, put the finishing touches on his new look with a little help from Eyeworks at Midtown, 713-942-9080. Eye-works offers a wide selection of designer frames and styles. If he wears glasses, he might as well wear glasses that are both practical and fashionable.

Something Different

Perhaps, though, the idea of clothes for Christmas just rings a bit hollow. A great idea for some of the dads out there is portraiture. Get the kids together and arrange for them to have their portraits done at Gittings Portraiture, 713-965-9301. A portrait makes a timeless and heartfelt treasure for any family member.

Looking for something to get that guy who is so cranked on skateboarding that his mantra in life is "I live for shredding"? Well, The Source Board Shop is the place to go. They have all name-brand skateboards, decks, long board skateboards, clothing, shoes and surfboards. Who knows, maybe he'll be the next Tony Hawk. All he needs is the right equipment. Call them at one of their two locations: 713-946-0414 or 713-520-8980.

Another good idea is to sign up your man for a day of relaxation. Whoever created the misconception that men don't need pampering, well, was probably a woman. Truth is a man can appreciate a day at the spa just as much as a woman can. Bella Rinova Day Spa and Salon, 713-572-0022, has gift certificates. Show your man how much he is loved. Give him a day of relaxation.

 

Kardio Kickbox is a high-energy, ex-citing and motivating form of exercise. It is a non-contact, full-body workout with the explosive techniques of kickboxing done to music. Every workout is different. Sign your guy up and give him that little nudge he's been needing to get back in shape. Call Urban Jungle Self Defense at 713-861-7252.

There are many other hot items this year. It's so easy, though, to get overwhelmed by the seemingly bottomless pool of potentially great gifts and opt instead to travel the road so often traveled and leave originality at home with the dog when you have absolutely no idea what to get. So this year be prepared. Give the gift that stands above the abyss of meaningless junk. Dare to be different. Whether it's an update to his wardrobe, a selection from the plethora of cabled and wired "it" items hitting the marketplace this season, sporting supplies or goods, or just something altogether different, the key to giving a great gift is simply this: Give from the heart! Don't give him something because it's Christmas, give because he means something to you. Give not because you'll be getting, but give for his not forgetting. So go forth with confidence, and find that something special for that someone even more special. And if you should come across the boxers with "Santa's Little Helper," trust us...keep on walking!


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