Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Teapot Fight

MY WIFE AND I RECENTLY DID A SHOW, created by our good friend Kate Purdy, a stage show she called "Who's Crazy?" It was kinda sorta a game show, wherein two couples told their sides of an argument and the audience voted on who they thought was the crazy one in the fight. It actually was a pretty funny show, and (best of all!) nobody's feelings were hurt. Hooray! Hooray for turning domestic arguments into comedy!

The "argument" that my wife and I chose was more of a disagreement about the value of an object than an actual fight. It was about a gift I gave and what she thought that gift communicated versus what I thought that gift communicated. In the end, she was voted the crazy one (which she admitted at the top of her story) and the whole audience agreed that I chose my gift very poorly, very poorly indeed.

Here is my story, as it was performed in the show:

Before I say anything, I would like to put this whole incident into the following light: I am a dude who buys gifts for his lady. As a dude, it should be unsurprising to anyone—whether dudes or ladies themselves—that I, at some point in my life, gave a poorly chosen gift to my lady. It is no reflection on the lady. It is always and only a reflection on the dude. Giving poorly chosen gifts is dudes do occasionally. We can’t help it. We’re just dudes. We’re not bright.

Now, in my defense: I would like to say without bragging, that I am a pretty good gift giver. For the most part. Let’s call it 80%. 80% of the time, I give good presents. Thoughtful, entertaining, clever, personal. All the things you want a present to be. The other 20% of the time, I do poorly. Not a bad average. It’s a B. Room for improvement. But still, above average.

Which brings me to the Christmas Teapot—a gift I gave to my wife when we were first dating. A gift I gave to her for our first Christmas as a couple.

I would like to say that the Christmas Teapot was one of several Christmas gifts given that Christmas. It was not the main gift. It was just one of the gifts. I don’t recall what the other gifts were that Christmas. I am going to guess that there was probably a nice blouse or sweater also given. As well as jewelry of some sort. Books too—most likely. My wife loves to read. I don’t really know for sure. I wasn’t, at that point, journaling about my gift-giving. And my memory’s not as sharp as it could be. I blame the pounds and pounds of pot I smoked in my teenage years. And on into college. I easily smoked my weight in pot in my formative years. It HAD to have had some deleterious effect. But I digress.

The teapot.

The teapot is still in our cupboard, by the way. Still unopened. Still unused. Five years later.

It wasn’t a fancy teapot. Admittedly, it was a functional gift. Which, I now realize makes it a not-so-great gift, by default. You don’t want to give your future wife the equivalent of socks and underwear. Or, rather: you may WANT to give her those gifts, but she does NOT want to receive them. She wants (and she is right in wanting) thoughtful, pretty, girly, sexy, shiny, fun gifts.

A teapot is—I know—none of these things.

But my wife does love tea. And she was, at that time, drinking a LOT of tea. And the teapot was, as I mentioned, one of many gifts. But it was a gift. It was not a coded message. It was just a teapot. It was not my silent way of telling her: I think we should stop seeing each other, I think we should break up. The message behind the teapot was the same as the message behind all the other gifts I got her that year—and every year since.

Which being: I am very fond of you. Here is something I think you will enjoy. Please think of me while you enjoy/wear/look at/whatever this item.

As I said. The teapot is still there. Staring out at me from the back of the cupboard. Still unopened. Unused. Still communicating two different messages. To me it says: I am a gift that meant well, that has never been enjoyed. To my wife, I believe it still says: You have until morning to pack your things. It’s been fun.

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