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2003 Gift Guide

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Frosty the Freshman

Gifts for the returning student don't have to strain the wallet--or the bladder

By Novella Carpenter

WITH THE economy so long in the can, it seems like everybody's going back to school, including your 40-year-old unemployed roommate who smells kind of weird and even--yes, your own mother. The funny thing about "returning" students is they never seamlessly blend in with the rest of the student body--they're on time, ace their tests and don't do beer bong shots. But some of them might appreciate fitting in a little bit. Here's what to get them.

Bifocals. Yup, they've finally figured out how to make the dang things work without a major headache, but God forbid if the other students notice how out of style and uncool those frames are. And that pearl eyeglass chain! Can you say dinosaur? Shape up your older academic by getting her a cool pair of frames from Optical Illusions, 378 Santana Row, San Jose, 408.261.1010. Why not the blue plastic with rhinestones or lightweight titanium? While you're at it, consider a pair of prescription sunglasses from Mel Cotton's Sporting Goods, 1266 W. San Carlos St., San Jose, 408.287.5994; prices vary, $100­$500.

Those Pants. All the girls are wearing them. You know, the Britney Spears jeans that ride so low sometimes you catch a glimpse of butt cleavage. Older coeds might balk at these styles, because frankly, as people age they grow more, uh, fleecy in the nether regions. So why not include in every older student's stocking a can of Nad's hair-removing gel (available at www.aseenontvstore.com; $29.95), along with a gift certificate for Barbarella, 1133 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, 408.947.7255. Make sure to allow at least $100 dollars for those pants--though they use less material, they aren't less, um, material.

Stadium Pal. The returning student's bladder isn't what it used to be, and visiting the restroom every 30 minutes is not going to be OK for that three-hour world-history seminar. Luckily, there's Stadium Pal. The idea first developed during World War II and is used in the health-care field. The device consists of an external catheter with an adhesive device, a hose and a heavy-duty plastic collection bag with elastic straps. It can be used for up to 12 hours, giving any older student the seeming bladder power of a spring chicken. Also available: Stadium Gal (www.stadiumpal.com; $24.95).

Yoga. Your mother's signed up to take Music History 101, but when she bends over to pick up a pen it sounds like a symphony of broken bones and popping joints. She needs to get on the yoga mat and work out those kinks. You know she's too proud to go to a yoga studio--so get a combo gift that will turn her living room into a yogi den. A variety of sizes and shapes of yoga mats are available at www.matsmatsmats.com, including Deluxe, Utopian and Monster mats that cost between $16 and $24. The yoga video instructional is crucial; among the best are those by Rodney Yee; a variety of videos depending on level are available--try AM Yoga for Beginners or Yoga for Relaxation; available through www.yoga.com. She will also need one of those glorious flaxseed eye pillows for that post-yoga nap. The best ones are found at www.moreyoga.com. They're silk and ergonomically designed to stay on your face; around $14.

Frames for GRE scores. The older student should be encouraged to celebrate the fruits of their wisdom. Make the older and wiser feel proud by giving them a variety of frames for the tests they ace. Basic-black document frames are available at Artscapes Framing, 1550 Dell Ave., Campbell, 408.374.7388, for $15-$30. These look great for framing their outstanding GRE, LSAT or MCAT scores, but also might work to commemorate a very good midterm or final paper.

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From the November 20-26, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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