Happy birthday to her
If you were to ask people who know me, what is the best thing about me, I am sure they would respond with: “the fact that we don’t seem him very often”. I can’t dispute the opinions of my acquaintances, but if I had to offer up one positive trait that I posses, then I would go with the fact that I think I am reasonably empathetic.
Life can be so much easier if you can easily appreciate the views and needs of other people, and I think it was my ability to empathise that kept me employed in Asia for nigh on fifteen years. You can’t deal with the Asian culture by shouting it into submission; but understand the other person’s position and act accordingly and you can move mountains. Also, I have no other skills; so it must have been empathy that kept me employed.
Unfortunately, my ability to empathise has never extended to having a clear grasp of what those around me would appreciate as gifts. I never have any problems identifying suitable gifts for myself. Give me your budget, I’ll add 20% and give you a list of things I would express gratitude for. But what would you like? Buggered if I know. Empathy? Not registering.
This has been a problem from an early age, with Xmas being a particularly challenging time. No, I am not going to buy you a tie, or an “amusing” book you will read for five minutes and then keep in the toilet for visitors to ignore for a couple of months before “losing”. That’s the problem, most gifts are crap and unless the recipient has a particular interest that you can serve with a gift, then what the hell do you buy?
Most of my family seemed to have no particular interests, so eventually I reverted to the only sensible strategy, I bought them things that interested me. The worst example of this was probably a gift to my father for Xmas one year. My father’s interests were golf and gin (and Italian women and horses in a tent in the war, according to my mother who seemed to have an issue with this). None of this helped me with a gift choice; but I was motor racing crazy at the time so my father received a copy of the most excellent “Sports Racing Cars of the 1950s – A Technical Analysis”. Ungrateful old bastard that he could be (although admittedly he had no interest in motor racing), he expressed unfettered joy at this perfect present for a couple of hours and then stuck it on a shelf. After a grace period of a couple of days I took it down and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have similar problems with she who must be obeyed. Fortunately, we don’t do Xmas; but there are New Year gifts, anniversary gifts and birthday gifts. And today is her birthday.
She actually has many interests, all fashion related which of course makes it out of bounds for me. No way am I going to buy jewelry, or clothes, or cosmetics; because I would be guaranteed to get the wrong design or colour or size and I would be punished for my transgressions. My fallback has been perfume. Of course, I don’t choose the smell, but she gives me the brand and I go and buy it; although there are still cock-up opportunities when I buy the wrong type of smell delivery mechanism.
But for this birthday she informed me she was “perfumed-up”, with bottles of the stuff from previous events still unused and taking up space on shelves which could better be utilised for the storage of the jewelry I wasn’t going to buy her. What to purchase for my wonderful wife? Nothing for it but to fall back on the tried and tested (and failed) approach of many years; I got her something that interests me:
It is a Lomo film camera, the product of brilliant marketing by a company that sells over-priced cameras that take shit photos; but nobody cares because the cameras look cute and you probably won’t be able to find anyone to process the films anyway. What a lucky lady.
Still, might be fun (for me) to play with; just need to wait until she has finished expressing interest and stuck it on a shelf; then I can adopt it. Sometime tomorrow I reckon.
Postscript: Do you think I am suicidal? Of course there is also that handbag that she wanted, currently stuck in a warehouse in Miami but duly paid for (and no doubt duty paid for) by me. Happy birthday she who must be obeyed; I still love you even though you are pretty old now.
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