Monday, January 05, 2009

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Receive

Amongst the bounty reaped from the holiday season this year--the mother's Big Catalog of Needlessly Complicated Gadgets and Oddities yielded all sorts of treasures designed to turn simple acts such as opening an umbrella or wearing gloves into an entirely unwanted conversation with curious nearby strangers-- I received a set of nice hand lotions from my somewhat terrifying boss, a gift that ranks between Five Dollar Bill and Christmas Tree Ornament in the Chronological Scale of Half-Assed Gift Giving. It's not like I'm trying to turn a profit from Christmas or anything (though if the economy were to take a Serlingesque turn and I were to wake up tomorrow in a world where scarves were the most precious element in the periodic table, I could definitely afford to start serving a better cut of man), but I get a fair number of these token gifts, and if it's all the same to the people I casually interact with/begrudge in person every so often, I'd rather just ignore the whole season of giving conceit and merrily chap along.

The gift that takes a break from giving year-round.

After writing a thank you email to my boss--a true tour de force of deception involving some sort of farcical situation in which I left a non-existent thank you card/outpouring of gratitude at home, written upon handmade, artisanal stationery described at length, which I then offered to bring in for posterity's sake (sometimes it's nice to lie for the majesty of it, to remind oneself that it's an art not relegated to just times of covering one's own ass)--she responded with "Thanks, and thanks for the earmuffs", which is such an odd reply that I actually considered the possibility that it was a code telling me I need to get the fuck out of here and take my files with me, before realizing it was probably just a reference to a present I most certainly did not purchase for her.

And this was just the card's envelope.

Psyched for the opportunity to see two moles of wrong actually equaling a right, I asked a couple of friends for advice before realizing that they actually considered correcting her to be an option that was on the table. On one hand, this does involve willfully taking on the persona of someone who thinks that earmuffs*--seriously, these are individual hats for your ears--make a good present, but these could be the fancy Faberge sort of earmuffs worn by society matrons, and I wouldn't want to miss out on the goodwill opportunity. What I'm really looking for is more of a backup dialogue to put into play if she does discover that someone else gave her earmuffs, and I never corrected her. It's hard to play off an out-of-context mention of earmuffs without turning it into a euphemism for an eight ball or a sex act, so I'm coming up a little dry, but Shirley Temple curls really lend a lot of cred to feigned cluelessness, so I'm gonna risk it.

*As for the stigma attached to being the kind of person imaginarily gives earmuffs as presents, it's untrodden ground.