Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Before I came online, I had a dream of a great wide world were I could learn about all of the things that ever struck my fancy.

When I came online, I found just such a world, and then so much more.

One of my favorite all-around learning sites is: How Stuff Works. Just pick a topic, and chances are that they will teach you all that you would ever want to know on that topic.

Being a science and an astronomy buff, I thought seriously about buying a telescope this Christmas “for my kids” /wink/ and to introduce them to the stars while they were still young. I have been long in thought on this subject.

So, a few weekends back, I went to the How Stuff Works site to learn about telescopes so that I would know what kind of telescope I should buy.

I learned enough about telescopes to know that I should not make a purchasing decision in a day. I learned that to get the telescope I really wanted, I might really need to open my wallet real wide.

What is the chance that I could have gone to a store to learn what I needed to learn to make a good buying decision on telescopes? Zip. Zero. Nada.

The really good news is that I can continue to go to see the awesome pictures from the Hubble Telescope at the NASA website:

So, the kids did not get a telescope this year. Maybe they will get one next year.

All is good though. They got really sweet gifts anyway. At the Fisher-Price website, we chose the electric-powered Cadillac Escalade.

Now, it is time to find something for my wife.

And then, I begin the long and frustrating search. What do you get a woman who has everything she wants?

I know… There is no such thing as “a woman who has everything she wants.” So, what do you buy a woman who won’t tell you what she wants?

After a search for ideas late into the night one evening, I leaned back in my chair and it hit me. Hanging on the wall above my desk is a caricature that we had made for us when we were on our honeymoon. She loves that thing and shows it off anytime someone new comes to visit.

My big head in that caricature almost seems to be an accurate representation of my personality.

Of course, the internet offers me a possibility of getting a caricature done on the sly, so that my wife’s Christmas present can still be a surprise to her.

I can send family photographs to the caricature artist, and we do not have to sit for a lengthy amount of time while an artist works his magic.

And in not having to sit while the artist works, we can avoid the stress that both my wife and I experienced our first time around.

I did mention that our first caricature was done while we were on our honeymoon. We took our honeymoon in Las Vegas, and we stayed at the Stratosphere Hotel for seven days. It was on our first trip to the top of the Stratosphere, and while we were 110 stories up, the fire alarms in the tower went off!

After having spent 30 minutes waiting in vain for an elevator to the ground floor, we decided to make the best of our time on high. Of course, we could have taken to the staircase, but that was a 110-flight escape route! And, we did not even know if there was really a fire or whether some jerk thought he was being funny and set the thing off for kicks.

We took a walk around, and then I spotted the caricature artist. I approached him to ask if we should be worried about the alarm going off. He indicated that it was not uncommon, and that he was not the least concerned. So, I stopped being concerned myself, so long as I did not see any other reason to be concerned.

So, the young man took to talking me into having our caricature done. I really had no interest in such a thing, but I did have some time to kill. I was actually a hard sell, but he stuck to it. He finally offered me a deal to sit, since his prospects were pretty slim at that moment. After all, there was my wife and I, and the other two-dozen people stuck at the 110th floor in a mild state of concern. And, there were not any new people coming upstairs of any kind, since the elevators seemed to not be running at all.

So, we took a sit and had our own caricature done on our honeymoon trip. I think he nailed me perfectly. And, I thought he missed my wife by a mile, but please don’t tell her I said so. She liked it, which is what is really important.

For those in the learning mood, the first written history of “caricature” was made available in a series of articles that ran from February to December of 1875 in Harper’s Monthly magazine. Archived copies of those articles can be read online here: The author of this series was James Parton. He was known in his day as one of the pioneers of political caricature, and he was a respected scholar in this field.

In the first article, the author points out that a lot of early graffiti was a form of caricature. In specific, he pointed to an example of ancient graffiti found in the excavated ruins of Pompeii, Italy, which was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

It was only in the past century that people began to commission caricatures of friends and family as gifts and to locate caricature artists at many tourist destinations. The internet has allowed the Average Joe to locate a caricature artist without having to travel to the artist.

After shopping around, I decided on Give A Special Gift. Let me tell you why.

I chose Give A Special Gift, because I found that they were not thoroughly stuck on the big head caricature. While I might have a big head about myself, I don’t necessarily like the grossly exaggerated “big head” that most caricature artists take to the canvas. Of course, the nature of the caricature is to exaggerate the obvious, but that is not always what the client wants.

I wanted to do a more realistic, family portrait style caricature with my wife, my kids and myself in the artwork. My kids take solo pictures beautifully, but they can never sync for a family photo. So, to the artist, I sent a digital family photo and solo digital photographs of my children.

I have found the perfect gift for “the woman who has everything she wants.” This year for Christmas, she will have a caricature of her family, using the best shots from all of us. And best of all, she will be able to hang her gift upon the wall and cherish it for the rest of her life. Now THAT is a Christmas gift worth giving.

By rahul