During a particular period every year, THE husband looks stressed; very stressed in fact. His frowns deepen (he does frown from time to time; it enhances his personality!) and he goes into period of deep meditative silence (he is anyways the silent, thoughtful type). I even get suspicious looks from time to time as if I am responsible for all recent terror attacks.
No, it has nothing to do with his yearly appraisals or annual health check ups of immediate family members including him. And I presume you did not take that terror attack line seriously anyways.
It is that time of the year when there is a week or at the most 2 weeks left to my birthday!
Finally and invariably he asks the boring question of the year, “So well, umm…what is it that you would like as a birthday gift?”
And at that precise point I start looking stressed.
I mean why? Why cannot men guess through some infra red ray or whatever jargon these sci-fi thrillers mention that can transmit my wish list from my mind to his? My women friends never ask me these questions, they always KNOW! Yes, they remember the lovely lilac bag I wistfully looked at while window shopping 6 months back; if not lilac they at least aim for a similar shade. That’s what you call the art of gifting. Remembering what is required and making it a point to acquire it. Not like some task that has to be done.
Most of my guy friends and that includes THE husband has this whole “Let’s look at this as a compulsory boring activity” approach to birthday gifts. And no, they really don’t mind if you do not remember their birthdays or don’t get them a gift. The worrying part is they expect similar behaviour from you!
A very, very close guy friend (he was nearly as close as a girl friend, so you will understand why I was so disappointed in him) once got me a packet of Ferrero Rocher as my birthday gift. Really, how unimaginative can one get! I absolutely hate those chocolates! I was so mad at him for being so predictable. And no, please don’t expect me to understand and appreciate his gesture etc. I really do not care that “so many unfortunate souls do not have birthday presents”; on certain occasions especially like that of my birthday, I can be very selfish. Okay self centered. That sounds so much better!
Look, like all regular 18 -20 year olds I have read enough Femina, Cosmoplitan and other ‘women centric’ (whatever that means) magazines while spending time at the salon or while waiting for a train etc. Yes, at college, I used to travel by train post vacation back to mad-fun hostel life! In these magazines THE husband always springs a surprise; and here I am referring to the good, caring type husbands. They plan a secret gala party of take their wife to some exotic locale and have the best champagne under moonlight. Come on, you guys watch TV; not only women centric magazines but even regular ‘homo sapiens centric’ advertisements showcase these ideal scenarios.
So every year I am asked the same question and every year I get cheesed off and say, “Never mind, since you cannot even think/ remember what I want”.
At that point an argument breaks out and last two years it has been resolved in the form of “Lets go for a vacation somewhere”. Yes, I have even been taken on a vacation in December and told that this is a belated birthday gift. My birthday is in August for God’s sake, how belated can one get?
I must give some credit though; in 2010 the lovely, blissful sea side vacation actually happened in SeptemberJ
Few of my married women friends, the ones who have been married for more than five years have given up hope on exotic presents. They are elated if their birthdays are remembered at all! Situation is so bad, that someone I know last year bought her own gift, asked the shop guys to wrap it nicely and keep it and then sent a sms to her husband reminding him to pick the gift up!
This weekend, someone who was referred by someone came to showcase few beautiful sarees. I do wear them occasionally and I was gifted a few earlier this year by while I visited relatives in Calcutta. Hence, I was clear in my mind that I don’t need another one, but well since he was referred I agreed to check his collection. Enters, THE husband. He absolutely insists that I must buy one. “That one and this one looks good; very classy..why don’t you check them etc etc?”
It was surreal! Why was this fellow suddenly taking so much interest in checking sarees and nearly forcing me to buy one? Okay, so I did like one in particular and gave in to cajoling – both from my husband and the saree seller. And then, something even more strange happened. The husband insisted that he will gift this to me. Why this sudden excitement in giving me a gift? Mostly he gets into selective hearing mode whenever we discuss gifts.
And then, later that evening it hit me. On being asked point blank, he said with a casual shrug, “This opportunity was God sent. Now, I don’t have to bother about what to gift you for your birthday”.
Task completed for 2011.
My early Christmas wish: ‘Dear lord, let some brilliant publishing house bring out a Men’s magazine where they dedicate one less page to cars and instead have advice on “15 exotic gifts to give your wife on her birthday and make her feel special”. I will definitely gift a copy to THE husband!