Yesterday we covered the “10 Gifts You Should Never Give,” and while this particular item wasn’t on the list (although it’s pretty much up there with a gym membership), I’d just like to point out that, this is too, a big no no.

I was 18 years old. He was my first official boyfriend, the kind where you actually give each other gifts at holidays, birthdays and celebrate silly things like three month anniversaries.

Although I’ve racked my brain as to what I gave him that year (I think it might have been a sweater and a Nirvana CD or something), I will never forget what I saw when I tore off the festive wrapping paper and opened the box.

The first thing was a bear. It wasn’t the type of bear you’d give your girlfriend, as in it wasn’t plushy, but instead hard, and had barely furry limbs that moved. I picked it up, thanked him and dug deeper in the box. The next thing I pulled out was a patchouli scented candle with Jerry Garcia on it. I do not like the Grateful Dead at all. Sure, I can sing along to “Casey Jones,” but I blame that on years of being at UNH with a bunch of hippies who lived across the quad and blared it incessantly. Again, I thanked him and reached down to take out the final item.

I remember the way it felt: hard, long and awkward (this is in no way meant to be a penis reference). I ran my fingers over it–it was wrapped in tissue paper–and tried to guess what it was, but I couldn’t. What I removed seconds later, was something that has forever scarred me.

It was a Thighmaster.

I don’t know the expression I made; nor do I recall anything more than his explanation being that I was always complaining about my thighs, but I do know that I felt an even deeper pang of insecurity than I had ever felt before. Admittedly, I had been complaining about my far from perfect legs, but that’s what insecure 18-year-olds do. But again, I thanked him, kissed him and tried to rationalize it in my head. I couldn’t. [tagbox tag=”Christmas gifts”]

I never lit the candle because I wanted to keep it forever, and I kept the bear on my bed until we broke up a year later. And the fucking Thighmaster, the Christmas gift we never discussed and I never used, stayed in my closet far longer than it should have. For a long time, as much as I hated it, I couldn’t get rid of it for sentimental purposes. He had been my first love, after all.

A few summers ago when I was at my parents’ house, I found it in the basement and finally threw it out. I debated giving it a try, but stopped myself. I was in no way going to condone the gift he gave me that year even though a decade had passed. Besides, I had already come to terms with my imperfections, and honestly, I love every single one of them.