I really don't need anything; I'm just happy to be here.

    It's time once again to make out my annual birthday/Christmas wish list. With a birthday less than a week before the holiday, my list always serves a dual purpose, allowing my loved ones to fulfill my desires in one fell swoop and not have to think about doing it again for another 12 months. Seeing how my friends and family are throwing me the requisite party this weekend to mark the momentous occasion of hitting the half century mark (just wait, yours is in 2 1/2 months, BFF), this should give them a few ideas.

    • First and foremost on my list is WaxVac, the safe and effective way to clean and dry your ears. The latest entry in the "As seen on TV, not available in stores" realm is another one of those remarkable inventions that seems like an answer to the prayers of those with excessive ear wax. As the ads proclaim, we can say goodbye to cotton swabs, which as we all know are dangerous inside our ears. Instead of inadvertently shoving all that wax deeper into the ear, this contraption sucks it all out.

    At least that's what you'd think it does, from the name and all. When it comes right down to it, though, all WaxVac does is "gently draws dirt particles and moisture out of the ears." Wax is mentioned as a nasty problem, but nowhere in the carefully worded promos does it say the product does anything with that wax. I suspect that's because the inventors know it would take a much more powerful, industrial strength mini vacuum to suck out heavy wax build-up and even smaller particles of the rather gross stuff.

    No matter. I just want something to unplug my ears after swimming and showering, which is about the only thing WaxVac appears to be capable of.

    • For something to relive my younger years, I'll take one of those drinking games I've seen in retail stores, some of the choices being Pass Out, roulette, tic tac toe, and mystery drinking game. Parents of minors need not worry that these games could fall into the wrong hands, as the packaging and advertisements clearly state, "Intended for use by persons 21 years of age or older."

    Seeing how I was around 19 or 20, which was legal at that time, during my peak drinking game playing period, this would be the perfect gift to reminisce about old times. Who could forget playing quarters and picking on the cutest guy at the table to drink your shots, being picked by the cutest guy at the table to drink his shots, or being picked by the whole table to drink their shots, thereby needing assistance to walk – er, stumble – away from the table an hour later? And how about the next day, when everything was still a bit fuzzy? Good times, eh?

    Yeah, in hindsight probably not. I outgrew this sort of thing half my life ago and have found that it now takes a minimum three-month recovery period from one enjoyable night out with the girls. The problem with people my age trying to do something that requires a young body with lots of stamina left in it is finding others my age to do these things with when we're all in the same boat.

    So the game would probably just sit on my closet shelf, unopened. Perhaps some other, more practical gift suggestions are in order.

    • Speaking of reliving my younger years, let's go back even further with a retro phone handset, just like our family's when I was a kid. OK, so the ones selling out online and in stores are a bit more colorful and stylish than the standard black, tan or white AT&T models from a couple of generations ago. They're also nowhere near the real thing, as those who've lived with the permanently wall mounted dial phones can attest to. These are basically handheld, one-eared headphones with voice capabilities that plug into your mobile phone device, thereby absorbing most of the radiation that could otherwise seep into your brain and wreak havoc on it.

    So who's snatching them all up this shopping season? Is it the senior citizens who are not adjusting well to the new technology? Is it the kids who've never seen such a device before but think it's really cool? Or is it the boomers around my age, the last generation to be raised with no other telephone options than land lines, who have managed to adapt quite well to the new technology but still periodically reminisce about the days when things were much simpler?

    Come to think of it, I really don't need anything for my birthday – or Christmas, for that matter. Heck, I'm just happy to be here to celebrate it!