I just picked up Tina Fey's book Bossypants with the unsettling cover of her head Photoshopped on a large man's upper torso. Once you get past that the contents are quite funny and heartwarming, as you would expect from her. I'm really looking forward to her comments and observations about motherhood. But I'm not that far in, maybe on the 3rd or 4th chapter. At this point, she talks about her eleventh grade boyfriend who gave her a box of microwave popcorn and a used battery tester for her 17th birthday. She added, "Like you give someone when you're in love." It also sounded like he broke up with her soon after.
That story totally hearkened me back to my late 20's when I received a similarly vexing but ominous gift from a boyfriend. To set the stage, Joe (not his real name) and I had just gone for a long weekend to Boston to visit his family after dating for a few months. He sort of sprung the trip on me since a gloomy cloud of "this will likely not work out" settled over our relationship. But I was encouraged by this gesture and found his initiative romantic so I set that feeling aside. We traveled in early December and it was a nice trip so when we got back I bought him a number of Christmas gifts like a sweater and other cliche' relationship-y bobbles. The week before Christmas he came over and I presented him with the wrapped and bowed boxes and he stared at them dumbly.
"I didn't get you anything," he said.
"Oh, that's okay," I said. "I know you're busy."
I was really confused because hadn't I just been visiting his parents and sister on the other side of the country two weeks ago? (Oh and I had paid for my own plane ticket so that couldn't have been considered a gift.) But I tried to shake it off and have fun that night anyway. I left the next day to go down to Vancouver alone for an extended vacation with my family.
When I returned, there was a medium sized Amazon.com box waiting for me. I tore it open with desperation and hope that it might be from him. Maybe he needed some time or space to come around and get into the spirit of the holiday. Not that I needed expensive or fancy stuff but some THING (a card even) to show he cared. Inside, I found an invoice stating his address in the billing box (which was the only indication of where this had come from) and a fully stocked toolbox & socket set. Wow, definitely practical. Too bad I already had a fully stocked toolbox and he knew it too because he fixed the sink a few months ago. The date of purchase was 12/26 and it had been one of these "gold box deals" that Amazon used to do where they'd deeply discount one item for a whole day. I must say, he got it at a good deal on it--so kudos to him.
As I tried to feign some semblance of appreciation, my ridiculous female mind desperately clutched onto the quickly disappearing tendrils of hope that this relationship would last much longer. What kind of a jackass gives you a toolbox for Christmas? Especially one you don't need.
At least someone benefited from Joe's cringe-worthy attempt at lame reciprocation: for a New Years present I gave my brother a brand new toolbox and socket set.