The Thought that Counts
Does Prada make a crown of thorns for the Catholic who has everything?
my friend Scot
My insignificant other is getting a calendar for Christmas. On it, Ive inscribed important (to me) dates color-coded in order of priorityto assist him in suitably planning appropriate commemorations. Its not a long list (birthday, anniversary, Valentines Day, and Christmas
in that order). I helpfully included a long list of work-related functions, so hell be less tempted to throw it away.
Admittedly, it is NOT a great gift, but hes getting a wide array of stocking stuffers that will more than make up for it, and it may afford me some peace of mind.
Over lengthy negotiations, Ive accepted the fact that he really doesnt think most special occasions are all that special (and would just as soon skip them)and hes accepted the fact that those he fails to observe appropriately means that I get to break something that belongs to himof equal or greater value to the token of affection I think he shouldve provided as an indication of his fondness for me. I plan to start with the car.
I think its a decent compromise.
We both know neither one of us is going to change our minds on this; were old enough to know we can each modify our behavior to some extent, if not our feelings; and we both realize that by now we have enough invested in each other and all our flaws that the theory of mutual annihilation applies, making it far more productive for us to work out our problems than blow each other to bitsthough we each maintain one hand on the button (options limited to a Cold War, or détente and perestroika).
Itd be easy to split this issue on gender linesand yeah, it is probably true that wives and girlfriends are the ones who shoulder most of the gift-giving, card-sending, special occasion, holiday responsibilities in most relationshipsI just dont buy that this is a fair system, and Im not budging.
I was about six or seven when I cleared up any confusion about my expectations of the men in my family. After wed opened all our presents one cheery 1970s Christmas morning, I looked up from the chaotic display of materialistic loot; fixed my father with a steely gaze, and asked, so what did you get us?
He explained that ALL the presents were from Mom AND Daddy (presumably since he paid the bills, though he wisely didnt go into that)but I was having none of itI had seen my mother do all the shopping, all the hiding (I nearly broke a leg climbing up to find the Mickey Mouse watch on top of the fridge), and all the wrapping that went on in Mrs. Clauss workshop.
I laid down the law. I told him that I expected to see some appropriate reflection of his devotion within the week; that it couldnt be anything hed buy in a store; and that my mom was not allowed to help.
I guess he couldve just said, No, but he good-naturedly went along with it and Im still proud of the blow I struck for womankind when he unearthed an antique silver spoon, polished it up, took it to his metalshop, and fashioned it into a beautiful, delicate little ring for me.
My dads a stubborn guy, and he couldve easily blown off my incipient independence and assertions of how I thought the world was supposed to workbut he didnt. He knew I wasnt developing nasty tendencies of entitlement or asking to be spoiledI just wanted to be acknowledgedand he encouraged that.
So when any man in my life tells me, I dont celebrate those things; thats just me I think its about as socially unacceptable as someone nonchalantly confessing, Hey, I dont bathe. Yknow, thats just me.
The misconception seems to be that acknowledging a fault is the same as atoning for itparticularly if its a pervasive oneand we all have to fall in and tolerate it. We dont.
I still dont know what the man in my life is getting me for Christmas, but Im not sweating it, for several reasons. Its a mass holiday. Were both completely overwhelmed by professional, familial and social obligations. If we get to it by January, well be lucky. Pragmatism usually prevails over sentiment in both our worlds.
Second, I do think he tried (which is whats important) and yet I suspect his execution may be a little rusty (which is ok).
I concluded this when he casually, almost desultorily asked me a few weeks ago what I thought of S&M. We were in a public setting which (thankfully) precluded any possibility that this was a proposition, but at the same time, I knew he had something on his mind, since this isnt exactly routine chatter (even for us).
Sure, I can be pretty bossy
But I couldnt really think of anything Id done to prompt this line of inquiry.
Turns out, he had stumbled upon some sexy little book he thought I might like, but it was gone by the time he went back to buy it. I guess all that was left by way of related subject matter was something in the S&M genre. Dimly knowing that this might or might not be the kinda surprise gift Id appreciate, he had the good sense and forethought to just ask outright.
My gently truthful response was, Uhh, Ive never really thought about it. But if I was into that kinda thing, which end of the riding crop do you think youd have been on by now? Point taken.
I think we were both kinda relieved.
On the other hand, if Burberry makes a buggy whip
welllll, I doooo pride myself on being open-minded and non-judgmental. n
Reprinted Ace 2003.