My friend MCF asks
some interesting questions of his readers.
I don’t usually respond, but I enjoy reading what others have to say. This
week, however, one of his questions summoned a memory.
What’s the absolute worst last-minute gift you’ve ever given someone, and
how do you feel about it today?
One Christmas during the days when my Happy Wife and I had not recognized
any feelings for each other beyond friendship, I struggled to find an appropriate
gift. I wanted to give her something both meaningful and practical. I finally
decided on a
small flashlight that would easily fit into a purse or glove compartment
and keep her safe should she ever find herself stranded in the dark. It really
did seem like a good idea. I can’t imagine what went through her mind when
she removed its wrapping paper. I can tell you what went through my mind, though:
"Stupidstupidstupidstupidstupid!!!" I made a pathetic attempt to explain why
I thought it would be a good gift. I failed to convince even myself. I’ve given
her lots of amazing gifts, but none is as memorable to me as that stupid flashlight.
I’m glad I had that experience for two reasons. One, since she smiled and
thanked me, I knew she loved me and never doubted my affection for her even
in my disgraceful ineptitude. Two, it keeps me humble and makes me try harder
to come up with really good gifts.
Another of MCF’s questions that sparked a memory was this:
List as many prepositions as you’d like.
I’m reminded of the mythical grammatical injunction against ending sentences
with a preposition and a sentence I once read that ended with five consecutive
prepositions. It seems that a mother offered to read a story to her sick little
son, and he declined. The mother put the book away, and he said, "Mommy, what
did you put that book that I didn’t want to be read to out of up for?"