It's not about the house.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mischief Springs From a Paper Currency

(con’t from yesterday…)

Johnny doesn’t ever open a present in advance.

Me, if you mail me my Christmas present in November, it is open (and probably broken) well before December 1st. If you hand-deliver a gift at my 4th of July party because it’s the last time you’ll see me before my birthday (triple Leo, in case anyone out there is keeping score), I will thank you kindly and put it politely aside – until you leave. If My Lady gives me a gift or card at work for me to open over the weekend, I open it while I’m walking to the train. But I do wait till I’m off her block. I’m not a philistine.

But Johnny doesn’t. In fact, not only does Johnny restrain himself from opening things early – he opens them late. Sometimes he needs to be reminded to open them at all.

This is minorly annoying. It’s Christmas, we’re all opening gifts, my four-year-old niece (a.k.a. Football Buddy) is playing Santa Claus, she hands him a package, he thanks her kindly, puts it on his lap, and looks around to see who gets the next one. Even later, when we’re home all alone and exchanging our own personal presents he’s always all: “No. Not me. Not yet. Here. You go again.”

No no not like that! Jeebers! You people are philistines! (But I bet you all were really jealous for a second, weren’t you?)

I don’t know why he does it. Sometimes I think being the center of attention embarrasses him – but then I remember who he is and think maybe he just likes the tension his refusal causes in the room. Sometimes I think it’s because when he grew up (in a crisp bag in the middle of a lake, remember) he never got any presents aside from socks and underwear and a single comic-book annual on St. Stephen’s Day (cue violins, please). Mostly, though, I think he just doesn’t like being told what to do.

But this time? This one time? I brought his card home from My Lady and handed it to him on a Thursday afternoon when his birthday wasn’t actually till Saturday, and he opened it.

He did ask first.

“Can I open it?” he said. “Did she say to wait till Saturday?”

Well, no, actually, she didn’t. She didn’t say anything, because she wasn’t there. She just left the card on the counter with a note asking me to deliver it and wish you a Happy Day on her behalf. But I chose not to voice any of this. So thrilled was I that he was actually entertaining the possibility of breaking his own rule, that all I said to him in reply was:


And (again, in his Miss-Manners defense) he caught but ignored Andrew Jackson as he fluttered out but of the penguin-adorned card, trying instead to read what My Lady had written. But he couldn’t suss it out. Johnny has glasses he can never find, plus he’s dyslexic, plus My Lady (much as I love her) has handwriting that leaves much to be desired. So, after a bit of puzzling, he came to me.

To very dear Johnny,” I read aloud. “Have a fabulous birthday and many more. The enclosed is for a pizza or a steak. Lots and lots of love, [My Lady].”

“Oh,” he said. “That’s nice.”

he took the card back from me and looked at it for a moment. Then:


“What?” I said, a little startled.

“Fifty bucks!” He did a little jig (I shit you not: he did a little jig). “I got fifty bucks to spend how I want!”

He reminded me of myself when I was little. When some relative would tuck a fiver in a birthday card and I'd be overwhelmed with visions of candy or — well, there really was no “or.” Pretty much all I imagined then was candy.

“What will you do with it?” I asked.

And he said...

“Scratch ticket and a pint!”

Aha. The (almost) 49-year-old Irishman’s version of candy. Mind you, actual candy is still a powerful lure for this (almost) 49-year-old Irishman. But for that he’d have to wait until the morrow.

And so will you.


Sparkle Plenty said...

GAH! GAH! Hurry up! Hurry up!

Anonymous said...

Where did yessterday's comments go? I am sure I wrote one.
I had a feeling it'd start with a pint. That's where trouble usually starts.

su said...

No Irishman would EVER say "you go first" ly

ege said...

Sparkle -- All in due time, my dear. Maybe you should have a pint!

12 -- Huh, I have it set up so blogger emails me when I get a comment, and I didn't get any emails from them yesterday. Are you sure you didn't have a pint?

Su -- Especially not if we're talking about a pint!

DonnaStaf said...

Wow, so the italian blood definitely won over here! I am never first, always LAST to go or know!