Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Gift

My wife is very difficult to buy for. Most women are, I think, and the meaningful point becomes whether they will have the grace to be silently disappointed or whether they will explode. This makes gift giving occasions, such as birthdays or Christmas, veritable minefields, something that men approach with a fair amount of dread.

I remember giving my second wife a red blouse one Christmas. Sounds pretty harmless on its own, no? No. Not harmless at all. I can still remember the anger on her face as she fished into the gayly decorated wrapping and pulled out this item of offense as it were a rotten banana peel.

"I can't WEAR this! she shouted. "You want me to look like a Texas whore?!"

Truly, that was not my intention. Not at all. Nonetheless, I had aroused a holiday fury such as I never seen. I have always wondered since whether Texas whores are in the general habit of wearing red blouses of a similar make. I don't know, because I've never been to Texas. My fault, I fear.

I was to experience similarly disastrous gift givings in the future, so it was with trepidation that I faced my wife's recent birthday. What to do? She is very difficult to buy for. If I buy her something, she doesn't like it. That's a mild description. And if I don't buy her something, she doesn't like that either.

So I came up with the idea of taking her to lunch or dinner at the restaurant of her choice. I was equipped with a suggestion for a place, but perfectly ready to discard this notion, as she doesn't like choices being made for her either, especially when it comes to food. Well, especially when it comes to anything.

Sounds pretty safe, no?


She did not like this idea. We could go out and eat any day, she said. Today is my BIRTHDAY.

Oh dear.

To be fair, i should mention that she wasn't feeling well. Masuk angin, you know. How could I have anticipated such conditions.

So passed the birthday. No date, no gift, no speaky.

The next day, I was driving back to Renon from Sanur, when suddenly a little shop with a sign reading HELM shouted, "STOP, YOU BONEHEAD, I HAVE WHAT YOU NEED!"

Really? Hmm. Come to think of it, the red helmet she had previously used had first been chewed by one of our occasional dogs, and then more recently disappeared altogether when she loaned it to a friend. I do have an extra, but it stinks.

Ah ha! A helmet. A pink helmet! Could it be? Admittedly, she has no motorbike, she does not know how to drive a motorbike, but still ....

So I enter the shop. Pink, I say. The woman shows me a brown one. She shows me a purple and a green.

No, must be pink. Pink, I say.

Her husband comes to the rescue. He pulls a pink helmet from the bottom of a glass showcase. Totally pink! That's it!

Tiga ratus ribu.

But it has no face mask.

"Face mask separate," the woman says. "Empat puluh ribu."

"Oh gitu. Ok. Tiga ratus empat puluh ribu."

"No," the husband says. "For wife, must be special. (Did his wife roll her eyes, or was that just my imagination?).

He brings out a bubble glass facemask.

"Seratus ribu."

"Tapi ibu baru bilang empat puluh."

"Noooooo. Ini dari Malaysia" he explains, tapping the wonderful glass. "MALAYSIA."

Malaysia is apparently nearly as exotic as Mars, when it comes to helmets and facemasks.

Okay, okay. Empat ratus ribu. Done.

Now here's the good news. When my wife sees the helmet, she goes giddy. She giggles, she laughs, she kisses me, she hugs the helmet.

Thus I squeak through another holiday, and begin to ponder, already, Christmas with a certain measure a gloom. Now she has the helmet, and only one head. What else is there?

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