Can I have a gift bag for the snakes?
In the latest installment of our series, “Etiquette Tips for the Totally Clueless,” we provide advice on The art of cross-cultural gift-giving,” or as I would put it, “Presents for people who ought to just take what we give them and shut up.”
I’m here to expand on these tips, in case you still don’t understand that when you’re visiting overseas contacts, it’s best not to buy gifts for them in the Duty Free shop at their own airport.
Our latest etiquette column says a gift should be “portable,” something the recipients can take with them. Brilliant! Who would have guessed?
“Thanks for coming to New York, Günther, we would like to present you with the Chrysler Building. What? No room on your plane? Sorry…”
Our piece sagely advises against giving gifts like snakes and dogs – read it yourself if you think I’m making up this gibberish – and that “providing an easy-to-carry bag…is always appreciated.”
In other words, if you find yourself saying, “It’s great doing business with you Judy. Please accept this big pile of snakes, I only wish I had a sack for them,” you’ve screwed up.
Our etiquette column says it would be “very poor form to give a Chinese guest a gift that was actually made in China.” I think this is because a lot of stuff made in China is pure crap, so why would they want it themselves?
You’d be pulling a real boner to say, “Mr. Chen, here’s a bag of dog food for you, but check to make sure it’s not some of that toxic garbage from your country.”
Don’t give “sharp objects and weapons,” we advise, because your contact could have trouble at airport security. No s**t, Sherlock?
“What, Nigel, you mean you can’t take this rocket-propelled grenade with you into Heathrow? Well, I never!”
Our piece says the recipient should “never unwrap a gift in front of the giver…”
Sure, that makes sense, because we all know that in our culture, if you tell airport security you accepted a package from someone and don’t know what’s in it, it absolves you of everything.
Our tips go on and on, because it looks like it’s really hard to please those darned foreigners.
But here is my favorite tip of all: “In Singapore…it is the standard to graciously refuse a gift several times before finally accepting it.”
Really? That’s too bad. Because my own standard is, you get one chance to take my gift, and that’s it.
“You can’t accept this, Lamar? I’m SO sorry. Well, this gold Rolex is already on my expenses, so I guess I’ll just have to keep it myself. So long, sucker!”
Top: Two giant pandas named “Tuantuan” (L) and “Yuanyuan”, which means reunion in Chinese, eat bamboo at a giant panda center in Ya’an, Sichuan province December 8, 2008. The two giant pandas, gifted by the mainland to Taiwan in 2005, will travel to Taipei in December this year, China Daily reported. REUTERS/China Daily
Right: A militia from Somalia’s Islamic Union Courts (ICU) holds up a rocket propelled grenade during training on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in this December 11, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mowlid Abdi/Files
St. Domenico statue is surrounded with snakes at the beginning of St. Domenico’s procession in Cocullo, central Italy, in a 2003 file photo. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico