I suppose it’s fitting that a post about being late would itself be late. Let’s pretend that was an intentional decision. I was being clever, not delinquent.
Many months ago I started a story about how I essentially failed to get either a birthday present or Valentine’s Day present for my wife. I didn’t know what to get her, and time kept passing, so I continued not getting her anything. Then came the point, that terrible tragic moment, when I decided to try to make a present for her.
My daughter makes presents for my wife all the time, and my wife graciously adores them. The big difference between our situations is that I have no particular explanation for why there isn’t a big difference in the quality of our output. My crafts would be the charming production of a three year old. From me they’re just sad.
Either way, in my family there is something of a tradition of making photography themed items. Every year we make a calendar of family pictures for my mom, for example. My mom usually likes them, or at least graciously adores them. I thought perhaps my wife might like something similar.
Two problems emerged. First and most obviously, my photography talents rival my craft ability for the title of “most pitiable effort of an adult man.” I recently tried to take a picture of my daughter, but managed only to include her right shoulder and arm in the frame. She was standing still at the time.
Oddly, this was the less serious problem.
The other was that my wife keeps all our pictures. Usually this is the practical course of action; my wife is reliable. Unfortunately, my wife is also preternaturally and inscrutably gifted in the mysterious art of solving gift-based mysteries.
Let me give an example, one of my favorite stories from our marriage, second perhaps only to the time she stole my closet.
Many years ago, when we were newlyweds trying to furnish our first apartment, we had the idea of buying a china hutch. My wife collects tea cups, and we thought it might be nice if she had a fancy place to display them. Eventually we thought better of it–our apartment wasn’t quite spacious enough for both us and the tea cups–but I remembered the hutch my wife particularly liked, and filed it away in my brain for future use.
Years passed. Years passed in which I did not mention hutches at all. I didn’t look for them, didn’t speak of them, and didn’t even allude to the story of the one time we had found them. I was a gift giving ninja, a champion of stealth and savvy, the ultimate spy. Except that my wife was a better spy.
Finally we bought a house and were preparing to move. As it happened in fact, we were going to move just a few days before our anniversary. I thought it would be a good time to surprise my wife with not just any china hutch, but the one I remembered from years before.
Everything was going to plan until one night she remarked with surprise that time had flown and our anniversary was nearly upon us. Being precisely the sort of person who never successfully plans gifts in advance–as evidence I refer you the broader story you’re reading–I couldn’t help but brag a little bit that not only had I already remembered our anniversary, but I even knew what I was going to get her for a present.
That’s all I said: “I already know what I’m getting you.” That was the first time in years that I had let even a glimpse of my plan escape the relatively secure confines of my noggin. That was the only hint she had! Her response:
“Is it a china hutch?”
That’s what I have to deal with.
Naturally, I couldn’t ask her for pictures, because she would immediately guess every possible gift idea I could have, and any surprise would be spoiled. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to get to the pictures without asking.
Soon, her birthday was upon me, and I had neither bought anything nor successfully crafted anything.
To be continued….