You know me better than anyone. You know I don’t understand the combination of sandals and unclipped toenails. You know mayonnaise makes me sad. So, of course, you know I abhor mandated gift-giving.
The problem starts months before whoever’s birthday. I spot something—let’s say a Richard Nixon Chia Pet—and I absolutely purchase it on the spot. Within approximately 2.5 minutes, I am pounding on the soon-to-be recipient’s door and ceremoniously presenting them with the perfect gift they never knew they wanted.
However, as you know, my modus operandi creates a dilemma.
By the time the actual celebration rolls around, I will be expected to provide a follow-up gift. In a perfect world, though, I would just show up to the shindig and announce, “Remember the terracotta planter of that one really unattractive president?” I hope you liked it—because it was thoughtful and cost a bundle, so I really don’t feel I owe you another present today. Ta-da!” And, with that, I’d shove in a piece of cake and tap dance out the door.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, Mom. And, one of the reasons you are wonderful is that you accept, with no judgment, my rightful opposition to modern society’s gifting standards. (Much like my aversion to slimy condiments and scraggedy toenails.)
You had to have this in mind when, decades ago, you lovingly told me, “Don’t get me anything. All I want for Mother’s Day is good kids.”
By giving up Walgreens eau de toilette and paper mâché brooches, you saved me so much angst! I was already a good kid (in my mind), so I didn’t have to change anything. If I kept getting decent-enough grades and emptying the dishwasher, I could coast through at least one anxiety-provoking holiday per year. No time, no effort and no money necessary!
So much time has passed, and I am ashamed by my lackadaisical selfishness. If I could go back, there are so many things I’d do differently (and not just because you’ve recently been revising your will):
- I would not bash Mary Anne “The Snitch” Kuperschmidt in the head with my Dr. Scholl’s wooden slip-on. Then you and Dad wouldn’t have had to reimburse her overreactive parents for a pricey emergency room visit. (Actually, I’d re-crack that empty, watermelon skull in a heartbeat, but I’d foot the hospital bill myself this time.)
- I would not steal money from your coin purse to purchase a cool-ass pack of filtered Virginia Slims. And I wouldn’t have stolen your generic menthols to pass out to the neighborhood kids. (They didn’t like them anyway.)
- I would not team up with Morgan Pignatari, raid the liquor cabinet, and glug crème de menthe behind the junipers. I suspect you and your coffee buddies were disappointed, in the few precious hours before school let out the next day. Who wants to miss their weekly 50-proof Folgers cocktail?!?!! (You ladies weren’t fooling anyone, by the way.)
- I would not sneak communion wafers from Immaculate Conception’s tabernacle, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be caught using them as mini frisbees. I also would not have told Father Talarico that I didn’t think it was such a big deal—because my mom always said the Eucharist was just flour and water and “only a fool would believe it was really the body of Christ.” (You never said that, of course, but shifting the blame just seemed like what God would have wanted me to do at the time.)
- I would not secretly borrow your favorite cashmere cardigan and then, when it was irreversibly stretched out, bury it in the Wyatt’s trash can. (To be fair, I needed a boxy sweater because nine of us were playing strip poker in the treehouse. And, obviously, I had to beef up my prophylaxis of mittens, three pairs of socks, 4 stirrup-pants, and a bathing suit. I was certainly not going to end up topless in front of a bunch of amateurs, just because I couldn’t land a Royal Flush. You should actually be proud.)
You’re welcome, Mom. I haven’t stolen, lied to a priest, or even attacked a tattletale since my early 40’s. I’ve finally evolved into the “good kid” you desperately prayed for!
So don’t start whining on May 12 when you don’t get a pair of BluBlocker sunglasses or one of those fancy canes all the octogenarians are raving about. Face it: you struck a crap deal back in the day, and now you have to live with it.
You are the best mom a girl could ask for—Susie