Things to Get an Incoming Harvard Freshman


Sheep shear belt from J. Press of Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

As I was headed to my 25th college reunion at Harvard, I got a text from one of my partners. One of her friend’s sons was graduating from high school and headed to Harvard this fall and she wanted gift suggestions. As I was waiting for my hopper to O’Hare, I opined in no particular order:

1. Personalized stationary with initials embossed on paper and envelopes

2. Fountain pen -nifty basic Mont Blanc or fancy Cross with name engraved

3. Box of name cards

4. Custom laptop bag from Timbuk2 with an iPad Air inside encased in a Zagg backlit keyboard case

5. Album of fun selfies, depending on how cozy she was with the boy

6. Tie wardrobe from -looking under neckwear. About five would do

7. Tasting flight of single barrel Kentucky whiskeys

8. Watch wardrobe featuring cheap but fun watches by Stuhrling, Stauer, Casio, Timex

9. Sony RX100m3 camera

10. Custom blazer buttons with his initials embroidered on them

11. Warm, lined hunting vests from Orvis

12. Gentleman’s knife with a 3 inch blade and corkscrew, other stuff optional

13. Rice cooker -old fashioned kind that lets you cook ramen, stews, osso bucco

14. Shaving subscription

15. Squash racquet and bag of balls, eyewear -even if he doesn’t play now, he will

16. Collapsible bike

17. BMW i28 convertible in silver

18. Bose bluetooth speakers -the big ones, Bang and Olufsen if particularly favored

19. Waterbed

20. 3 pack of 10,000 mAH battery packs, solar charger

21. 4 years of Dropbox subscriptions

22. Lava lamp

23. Annual summer retreats in the Hamptons, Calabria, Florianopolis, and Catalina.

24. Foul weather wardrobe -waxed cotton jacket in green by Barbour, anorak by LL Bean, ski jacket system by North Face

25. Beef jerky

Birthday GIfts for a Narcissist

Birthday Gifts for a Narcissist


It’s birthday season for a particular gifted and talented young man in your life. The only problem is that he’s a terrible narcissist and you don’t want to encourage that particular aspect of his personality. Then again, he seems to like it when you bring it up, and you suspect it’s because it gives him an avenue to talk about himself. Well, this year, you have the opportunity to start a dialogue, starting with a simple gift.

It could be a just a 3-pack of pocket sized, ruled Moleskine notebooks in standard black. This way, the birthday boy can jot down important paradigm shifting thoughts. The problem with having an enormous intellect is the interface between it and the world, and for birthday boy, scratching down ideas for improving work flow around himself, patents for marvelous inventions for making his life and yours easier, and whole speeches to be given to the world. After all, if you make life easier for the narcissist, you really are making life easier for yourself, he figures, because his best interests should also be yours. That is the crux of the problem -the narcissist doesn’t know where he ends and the world begins.

If your narcissist isn’t a writer, a fitting gift is anything from the Orvis catalog. I suggest a snug pair of driving moccasins which cushion his soles like his mama’s hands wrapped around his tiny baby feet. Or a pair of shorts with a repeating embroidered pattern of a rising brook trout. Or a monogrammed over and under 12 gauge shotgun handmade in Italy with a choice of ivy patterns. Orvis is what happens when L.L. Bean kicks out all of their insufferable narcissists and they decided to form a better, cozier company just for themselves.

If you have any talent in the arts, a gift of your work might suit a narcissist well. I suggest an ironic oil painting of your birthday boy as the Dear Leader, one hand outstretched palm up to represent giving, the other on his waist with thumb down to represent humility, giving a thoughtful lecture about world peace to a gathered crowd of people who all look on with rapture and ecstasy. If you have the talent, but not the time, a quick study with chalk would be fine with birthday boy posed as St. Sebastian, but remember to seal it because chalk is messy.

If your talents are in the crafts, might I suggest a diorama. Suitably ironic statements about your subject’s narcissism would be a tableau depicting Little Bighorn, with your birthday boy as General Custer, and all of the people in his life as the Sioux. How about the back stabbing scene from Julius Caesar with your narcissist as the man who would save Rome. A manger!

And finally, there are services on the internet designed for the narcissist. No, I’m not talking about Twitter, or even Facebook -it’s not 2009 for goodness sake! You can send in a picture of your beloved narcissist and there are companies that will fashion action figures complete with appropriate, tasteful wardrobes and useful accessories. You can chose between the small minifigures and larger, GI Joe scale action figures (not dolls!). You can also order bobble head figures. When I last looked into this, it’s much cheaper to order in bulk, so a group of friends can go in together on this gift in such a way that they themselves would receive the gift of a bobble head of their narcissist friend at an appropriate remove from the birthday -Christmas let’s say.

Of course, if you are pressed for time, you can always order an engraved iPad. I suggest the white 64 gB version with 4G LTE from Verizon engraved with, “To you, from me.”