With less than 48 hours to go, most of the men I know haven’t even begun their Christmas shopping. They’ve opted instead to join the army of last-minute mall zombies desperately seeking, well, anything. I’m convinced it’s genetic.

With less than 48 hours to go, most of the men I know haven’t even begun their Christmas shopping.

They’ve opted instead to join the army of last-minute mall zombies desperately seeking, well, anything.

I’m convinced it’s genetic.

If you’re going to be among the walking bewildered, take heart. Somewhere between the gift-wrapped Lexus that no one ever gets in real life, and the “Sammy the Singing Bass” hand puppet, is a gift that’s perfect for that special woman. The trick, of course, is finding it, which is why we’re offering you this handy-dandy guide to help you avoid the bad-gift booby traps that lay ahead.

Secret language

First, it’s important that you, as a man, learn the secret language of women. If you ask a woman what she wants for Christmas, and she replies, “Oh, whatever,” what she really means is: “By now, I shouldn’t have to tell you what I want.”

Now, suppose you ask her what she wants and she says, “Oh, nothing.”

Danger, Will Robinson!

True, most women really don’t “need” anything, as in a toaster, mixer, or reciprocating saw, but don’t get suckered into thinking you can blow through Christmas empty-handed -- not if you really want peace on Earth.

Details, details

If you decide to buy her something to wear, don’t guess at her size. Take note of a size-tag on something she’s worn recently, which, I know, requires you to actually pay attention.

You memorized the starting lineup of the 1984 Detroit Tigers -- you can do this.

You need the right size because every woman in America has a section of clothes hanging in her closet that she refuses to discard because she has every intention of losing enough weight to get back into them, someday.

If your gift is too small, she’ll feel self-conscious. If it’s too large, she’ll take it to mean that you think she’s overweight. You can’t win.

Don’t let some hotsy-totsy salesclerk talk you into buying something that you’ve never seen her wear in your life. If she sleeps in tank tops and pajama pants the other 364 days of the year, what makes you think she’ll want a see-thru, edible teddy?

If you opt for a gift card, don’t just hand it to her like it’s a subpoena. You still have to gift-wrap it, or at least, stick it in a mushy card.

If she opens your gift and says something like “Oh ... it’s ... nice. Thank you, honey,” it’s because, well, she loves you and she appreciates the effort; sort of like the time when you were 6, and you made your old man that ashtray that looked like a souvenir from a nuclear meltdown.

If your gift vanishes faster than Jimmy Hoffa, she’s either regifted it for your sister’s birthday, or it’s in the “rag bag” -- a place she knows you won’t look for fear that if you get too close, your “lucky” softball shirt may finally disintegrate and fall in on its own.

Good luck, men. If you’re not back by Epiphany, I’ll send out the hounds.

Reach Repository writer Charita Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail charita.goshay@cantonrep.com