The Give and the Get

Posted: June 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Daddio, Discoveries, Friends and Strangers, Holidays, Housewife Fashion Tips, Housewife Superhero, Husbandry, Miss Kate, Mom, Shopping | 1 Comment »

One of the things Kate gave me for Mother’s Day this year was a large pack of multicolored plastic beads and some stringing thread. Beads exactly like the ones she’d used in a project at school a few weeks earlier, but clearly hadn’t gotten her fill of.

It was one of those gifts like lingerie from a boyfriend. Not intended for the recipient at all.

Alas, at Kate’s age, I’m willing to forgive the misdirected sentiment. As long as I don’t get doll house furniture for Christmas.

This year for my birthday (which regretfully fell on Mother’s Day), I also received the BEST PRESENT EVER. My from-womb-to-tomb friend Amelia sent it. Just to make me love her even more.

Some expectation setting. This gift ain’t for everyone. But it’s silly it’s so perfect for me. Which is what makes it such a home run, right?

Okay, so this perfect pressie was a pair of flip flops that have Velcro over the strap part. And, like the Pappagallo bag that was the fashion peak experience of my tweendom, there are all different colored and patterned straps you can buy to stick on them. For me, Amelia generously got me tan stripey Burberry-esque ones, some black ones with white polka dots, a red and orange kinda floral pattern, and, as an obvious nod to my early days of over-achieving preppydom, (which Amelia won’t let me forget, and why should she), some with pink lobsters.

I know, I know. Wrenching Velcro straps off your flip flops to change out the look is absurdly hokey. But as a stay at home mother, I’m the Imelda Marcos of flip flops. I mean, in a strange reverse of dorm living, the only time I’m not wearing flip flops is when I’m showering. Oh, well and sleeping of course too. At least, as far as you know.

A couple months ago I saw UGG flip flops at Nordstrom. They had furry soles, and a plain rubbery strap. My brain was churning madly to process them and determine whether it was brilliance or blasphemy. And really, it’s only in the Bay Area that it could ever be warm enough for flip flops and concurrently chilly enough for faux fur. But I seem to remember there being something dumb or ugly looking about the straps. I mean, aside from how blisteringly absurd and cavewoman-like the overall look of the shoes were.

Anyway, I didn’t try them on. If I had, I might be wearing them right now, and lamenting that they don’t make a high-heeled version for the party I’m going to tonight.

At any rate, my fabulous Amelia-given mood flip flops delighted me from the moment I spotted the package on my front porch. The only downfall of their coming into my life being that, when I opened them, my impassioned exclamation “These are the best. Present. Ever.” appeared to hurt Mark’s feelings.

Mark has, it’s true, given me some divine gifts. One Christmas at my dad’s, I tried on a jacket from Mark I’d long coveted and spun around the living room, happily modeling it over my PJs. What I failed to do before slipping it off, was put my hands in the pockets. Where a blue Tiffany box was waiting, housing a stunning ring. (We were married at the time, in case this comes off as some weird in-the-presence-of-my-father engagement scenario.)

I was thrilled with my gift, but it was my father who shook his head for days marveling over Mark’s clever romanticism. It’d seemed impossible for Dad to like my hubbie more that he already had, but that move sent Mark into the stratosphere of adored sons-in-law.

Ah well. I only wish poor Mark was able to experience a level of gift recipiency (how’s that for a word?) akin to mine. I mean, you never think you’re a bad driver, right? But God knows they’re all over the roads (so some of you people must be). And, well, you never think you’re bad at buying presents, but recently I feel like, despite myself, I’m being led to that conclusion.

For Mark’s birthday in November, I got him a bunch of different things, big and small. Some from me, some from the girls. One thing I’d seen in the back of a magazine—I know, I know, this should have been my cue to retreat—was a, God this is so embarrassing to even say, well, a t-shirt that said Dunder Mifflin. You know, the name of the paper company they work for in the show The Office. Mark loves that show. Mark often wears t-shirts on the weekends. I thought, this is funny! This is good! He will like this!

But then, a few months passed by, and one night I realized he’d never worn it. And it hit me. “That shirt,” I said to him, amazed it’d taken so long for me to figure it out. “It’s utterly dorky, right? I mean, you’re pretty much embarrassed to ever wear it. I’m right, aren’t I? Am I right?”

His two second pause and slow, “Well, no….” said it all.

I was howling with laughter. Literally slapping my thighs, amused and amazed that I’d somehow totally missed its immense dorkosity.(Though, a few weeks ago, a good six months after his birthday, when he’d splattered something on the shirt he was wearing and we were safely home for the night, Mark did, charitably, toss it on.)

What else? For our first Valentine’s Day, less than two months into our love thing, Mark got me a hope-it’s-not-too-much-this-early-on watch. (I loved it. It wasn’t at all too much.) Me? I bought him a silver cigar cutter. Is he a cigar smoker? Why, no! What then compelled me to purchase this gift? I’ve got no idea. He’s literally used it ONCE.

Then there’s the tragic Wine Spectator subscription that keeps coming and coming. Piling up on our coffee table. Sitting around in its large-formatted glory. Taunting me that Mark (or I) never manage to read more than the cover lines. (And “Great Reds Under $20″ seems like the kind of thing you’d want to know about too, right?)

I can rattle off other bombs of gifts I’ve given Mark. I’ve also struck out grandiosely on gifts for my dad. Tartan vests, genealogy tracking software, phone headsets for home use. The list goes on.

Along the way I must have done some good work, but I’ve watched enough Law & Order and CSI to know that you need to stand back and look at the evidence unemotionally. Let it speak for itself. And these things, well, they clearly indicate I don’t have much of a gift for, well, giving gifts.

But I’m a die-hard optimist. And egomaniac. I refuse to feel that all hope’s lost.

Maybe I’m better at buying gifts for females? Maybe I subconsciously give some good gifts and some bad ones, to underscore the goodness of the keepers?

And maybe with some luck I can alter fate. There may be some adult ed class out there where I can sharpen my gift-giving skills. I mean, if grown men and women can learn to flirt in classroom settings, there must be hope for me.

If not, for our wedding anniversary this summer, I can always enlist Kate to help me shop for Mark. I think a pink Hello Kitty change purse may just turn the tide on my poor track record. Besides, it’d look real nice with his gray Dunder Mifflin shirt.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “The Give and the Get”

  1. 1 Dad said at 8:09 pm on June 14th, 2009:

    I read your last two postings, and knowing that my Paige will kick up her heels, made my day, or really, my year! I will pick up the tab for the champagne, for sure. Your previous posting, brought tears to my eyes, as you are able to write about the most intimate and personal matters with such feeling and warmth. I don’t know where these traits came from, but I will boldly take credit for as much of them as I can…..

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