Friday, September 28, 2012

@BloggerIdol Week 1 Entry - A Really Awkward Gift

Prompt: Your audience needs to get to know you, and be able to connect with you. So, your first assignment is to introduce yourself to them by telling them about a family tradition you have. It can be with extended family or whatever, but it should really give them an idea about who you are.

Becoming an expert gift giver is no easy task. After all, gift giving is not something you can affordably practice every day. To be an expert gift giver, you must wait for an appropriate time to give your gift (birthdays, holidays, significant life events, getting out of jail, etc). Then you must deliver a meaningful, yet appropriate, gift that exceeds any and all expectations. I must confess I was not always an expert gift giver. In fact, at one time, I sucked at giving gifts.

The Gazelle... how majestic.
Let me take you back to my senior year of high school. I’m at a Christmas party that is taking place in a friend’s basement, complete with that musty basement odor and an unused Gazelle. Picture the ping pong table littered with red Solo cups full of soda (we were a pretty wild bunch). An assortment of salty snacks is strewn about. A couple of friends who think everyone wants to be a part of their "PDA party" is rounding second base while seated on the puke green plaid sofa that smells like arthritis cream because my friend’s grandmother sits on it while she watches her “stories” on the thirteen inch black and white TV that’s in the corner. This party is a real rager.

I really liked a girl named Amy back then, and knowing that we would be at this party together, I decided to surprise her with a gift. This was a complicated gift giving scenario as she did not yet know that I was interested in her. I needed something that said, “I like you, but I’m not a creepy stalker guy.” And for some reason, I decided that soap was this perfect gift. Girls like that stuff, right? I was clearly in over my head. I am ashamed to admit that I walked into Wal-Mart the night before the party, and, instead of going to the aisle full of Christmas gift boxes, I went to the regular soap aisle. I found apple scented Wal-Mart brand soap in an apple shaped container – yes, with a pump (which was impossible to wrap, in case you’re wondering).

Ladies, you know you want some...
It never occurred to me that these cute, fruit shaped soaps were meant for my grandmother’s kitchen sink. It never occurred to me that this girl might take my gift as saying, “I like you; I may or may not be a creepy stalker guy, and I think you should be washing dishes” let alone the much more obvious "I think you smell." It never occurred to me that any soap purchased at Wal-Mart, gift box or not, is considered substandard by most women and has no business being anywhere near their body. I had no way of knowing! Why didn't anyone tell me about Bath & Body Works? The look on her face as she opened her gift was not one that I want to relive at this particular moment. Let’s just say that she appeared to be greatly underwhelmed and somewhat confused.

I’m not exactly sure how I managed to pull this off, but one year later, Amy and I were dating. We had actually been dating for four months. So when it came time to exchange Christmas gifts, I got her something nice. But I also surprised her with another gift – soap! I stepped up my game this time. I explained to her that I now realized that fruit scented Wal-Mart soap was not good enough for her. If she was nice enough to give me a chance after that terrible first gift, she deserved the good stuff. I told her I would make it up to her every year at Christmastime as long as we were dating.

Amy got some great soap while we dated in college. One Christmas she got camp soap because she was going to Thailand for a semester and would be spending some time living in a village where there would be no soap available for laundry. The following Christmas, she got a fair trade, hand-made soap that smelled like the incense that was burned at the Buddhist temples she visited while she was abroad.

Two years ago, while Amy was six months pregnant with her first child, she got baby soap in her stocking. That’s right, the tradition continues. Amy is now my wife of six years, and while my first gift to her wasn’t perfect, the gifts that we give each other today – love, friendship, and family – would have never been possible without that first awkward moment when she had to decide whether or not I was a creepy stalker guy after opening her Wal-Mart brand fruit scented soap in an awkwardly wrapped, apple shaped dispenser.

To read what the judges thought about this post (and my reply) see the Blogger Idol page where it was originally published.

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What do you think? Any constructive criticism?  What family tradition would you have written about?

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