It's not about the house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Lady's Admirable Gifts

I rather pride myself on my gift-giving acumen.*

I don’t have a drawer full of candles and neckties for “emergencies.” I don’t buy little plastic cards (except on very rare occasions -- which is not to say I don't enjoy receiving them, thanks, Mom!). I don’t ask people what they want, and I positively bristle when some (like, oh, say, my husband) are bold enough to offer up unsolicited solicitations anyway.

What I do do (heh heh, I said doodoo) is ponder for weeks and weeks over what would be the perfect whatsit, pound pavement both real and cybernetic to find it once I know, then pay anywhere from nothing to $170 when I finally dig it up. (That 170 is not so much a rule as it is the decade-long standing score to beat). Needless to say – and I’ve taken some flak for this – I don’t buy wedding presents off of registries. If I don't know you well enough to choose my own gift, I figure, then you shouldn't have invited me to your wedding, anyway.

I believe that if I feel strongly enough about someone to want to give them a token of my affection (and here I am of course exempting little things like hostess gifts and Marine One Helicopter models), then that token ought to reflect said affection in some personal way -- be it the Christmas wreath that cost me next to nothing but took a month of Sunday afternoons to pin together, or the antique photograph of a favorite and recently-expired rockman (that rockman photo, incidentally, is the 170-record-holder – which I feel perfectly comfortable revealing because its recipient has never read this blog).

But for Johnny’s birthday this past weekend, I went blank.

And not just blank, either. Blankity-blank. Super, snake-eyes, hollow-shell, is-this-fish-or-chicken-that-I'm-eating kind of blank. Not only did I have no idea what to get for him, I had no suggestions ready when other people asked. (As a rule I deflect these sorts of questions regarding myself (see above), but when my friends or Ladies are feeling giftishly towards Johnny and look to me for help, well, I don't think Miss Manners would object that I oblige.) Usually I hint at something small: a record album or a fakebook that he’s mentioned; some weird candy I heard about I think he'd like; maybe the latest Tolkein or Rowling film on DVD. This year, though? All I came up with were crickets. And not brass or chocolate-coated crickets, either. Just imaginary live ones, chirping their little hearts and legs out in the space between my ears.

So My Lady gave him fifty bucks.

I thought he’d be embarrassed, or disappointed. I mean, it's not like we sit around all year thinking “I wonder what My Lady will give us next!” or anything, but she has, in the past, humbled us with her generosity. One year she gave Johnny her late husband’s antique fountain pen (which Late Husband never used; so nor has Johnny). More than once a dry-iced shipment has arrived from Omaha. And last year, because Johnny lingered for a moment admiring a pen-and-ink sketch while he hung it for her in her living room, she bought him a different original by the same man.

(That last link is a joke. I couldn't find the real guy on the internet anywhere, largely because the sketch is signed "LS," and we can't find the documentation that came with it that would tell us his full name. Or, rather, I can't find the documentation. Johnny can't even look for it, because -- well, you'll see...)

Mostly, mind you, Johnny is just touched for My Lady to remember his birthday every year, but it also means something to both of us that she knows him so well. That she takes notes and remembers things, even though they only see each other once or twice a year. This was the first time she’d asked for my assistance, though, and I had failed. I'd no ideas to give her, and so poor Johnny was stuck with the cold and impersonal gift of cash.

Turns out, though? This year? Cash was exactly what poor Johnny wanted. Turns out My Lady just might know my husband better than I do after all. Hm. Maybe there's something to this only seeing each other one or two times a year.

Just because she gave him the fifty bucks, however, doesn't make it her fault that the way he chose to spend it is what got him laid up on my Auntie Carolyn’s old La-Z-Boy recliner in the AssVac's living room, hopped up on hydrocodone for, oh, it's looking like it's gonna be at least another week...

*(Yes, this is the beginning of the story I alluded to in my post yesterday. I'm sorry it doesn't reveal much yet. It's going to go on for days, believe you me. Oh and also, no: if any of you who have received actual, physical gifts from me would like to beg to differ with my Thesis Statement, I don't want to hear it. I'm sensitive, goddamnit. You can start your own jive-ass blog and bitch about my poor taste in resin-elephant decor on there!)

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