I don't claim to be Emily Post, America's foremost authority on etiquette. If I did, I'd be claiming to be a woman who's been dead for over 50 years. I am not her, in case you were confused.
Ms. Post set the rules for etiquette in our society. Sadly, I don't believe she wrote anything about acceptable gifts for baseball players and sports figures, which means that we as a society are without her guidance in this particular situation.
That must by why a fan decided to send Cliff Lee an envelope full of fingernail clippings.
Please step back a moment and think about that. Imagine that you are you, sifting through your mail while standing at your kitchen table or lounging on the couch or sitting on the john. You see a plain white envelope, addressed in blue ink and stressed, barely restrained handwriting. You open it up, expecting a letter or a coupon or maybe some money. Instead, fingernail clippings that do not belong to you fall out onto the table. "What a thoughtful gift!" said no one, as you flail around and try to banish them from your sight, because a random person that you do not know sent you the discarded keratin that was until recently growing from/attached to their body.
I'd like to say that *not* sending your favorite baseball player your fingernails is just common sense. Because it really, really is. But there are no official Emily Post rules of baseball player gift giving, so we must invent them to prevent this from ever happening again.
DO send your favorite player a personal story about them. A game you watched where he played awesomely, the time you met him and he smiled, how wearing his jersey brings you luck, etc.
DON'T send your favorite player the details of your personal ritual every time he hits a home run, or the schedule you put together for spying on him, or the detailed log from all of your spying trips.
DO send your favorite player a token of your esteem, like a stuffed animal, a hat, a pennant, a water bottle, or other pieces of harmless ephemera.
DON'T send your favorite player an actual animal, or a real animal that has been stuffed.
DO send your favorite player something that could have meaning to them. A baseball card, a (new, un-worn) t-shirt, a book by their favorite author, a DVD from their favorite actor or director.
DON'T send your favorite player their actual favorite author, unless they are there by their own volition and not because they've been kidnapped/blackmailed/tricked. Also applicable: actual parts of their favorite author.
DON'T send your favorite player home movies, including but not limited to: a movie you've made about their life acted out by your pets/marionettes/figurines made of fruit, a recording of the last time you stalked him, or homemade porn.
DO send your favorite player something that connects the two of you, like a photo of you two together.
DON'T send your favorite player actual parts of yourself. This includes, but is not limited to: hair, skin, fingernails, toenails, eyelashes, contact lenses. Also applicable: things that came out of your body.
DON'T send your favorite player items of intimate apparel, regardless of whether or not they've been washed, unless we're in an alternate universe and you favorite player is Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdink.
DO send your favorite player a collage that you/your kids/your students/etc made about him and how he motivates and inspires you.
DON'T send your favorite player a collage you made that includes items from his garbage, pieces of clothing he wore, photos taken at your last stalking excursion, and his home address.
These are just the basic rules. They don't cover all eventualities, such as sending food or larger items such as recliners, refrigerators, or human beings. This is just a start, and we as a society must add to these rules. What have I missed? What are some of your dos and don'ts? Please add them in the comments below.