Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Good Relationship is All About Compromise

My best friend, ChemE, has a birthday on Monday.

In terms of present-giving occasions we are near polar opposites. She is not only happy to receive presents early but will USE them before the occasion. Unbelievable. Really not a fan of surprises my girl. Which is understandable, given her life, but I still don't get it.

I would so much rather be surprised, and it's important to me to have something to open on the day. I don't mind saying what things I might like but I don't give each person one thing to buy like SOME people.

So, ChemE has kindly agreed to surprise me on all such occasions. Well, sort of. When she comes to New York we will shop and she'll note what I like and buy it. I, in turn, have agreed to forget what I've seen her buying. Over the years I've gotten so good at it that this last trip we stood in a store and she showed me something that I loved and bought it, then not 30 minutes later, we were walking down the street tallying her purchases and who they were all for and I said, "Yeah, but the giraffe cards, you bought those too. Are they for you? Who are they for?" And she just gave me the look. Cool! Apparently I can be surprised over and over and over all by the same one present.

You may not be at all surprised to know that I have not returned the courtesy and disclosed all present information to her.

"You're mean!" you're all saying. "What kind of friend are you?" you're asking. "How do you know that your way is better?"

Well, I don't know for sure but I'm fairly certain. And I'm willing to admit that her way is better for cooking, for chemistry, for gardening, for the purchase of items large and small, for almost everything. So lay off and give me this one small thing. In this, at least, my way IS better.

The games began on Thursday. I had made arrangements to purchase something and have it shipped to arrive at her house on her birthday proper. Thursday afternoon I find that it can't be delivered on the day. Although I was pissed initially and huffily canceled my order it turned out to be the perfect Surprise Enhancement Tool. I called her from the corner by the store I wanted to order from.

"So, I promise that for once I did everything right and got things together and had a present ready for delivery to your house on your birthday. But it's perishable. And today, TODAY they called me and told me they can't deliver it on the actual birthday. So there's a choice. You can have the original present Wednesday, or possibly Thursday, or you can have an equally cool but totally different gift that I can probably get delivered to you on the day. What do you think?"

"Well, I mean, really what you think is best." And she's getting the very slightest smile in her voice, the kind everybody gets when there's a surprise brewing.

"I just want to make sure you get something to open on your birthday, I want you to have a good day."

"What do you think I'd like best?"

"They're both good, really."

"Well, do you think I'll like the perishable one?"

"Oh yeah."

"I guess you better send it to work so it doesn't sit out on my porch."

Hee! She's got to be enjoying this, right?

Tomorrow during our weekly phone call I'll have to slip in another hint or 2. And then I'll call on her birthday itself on Monday. And that should be more than enough I think.

It's my mother's fault. For a month before Christmas every conversation with my mother goes something like this:

"I bought you a present today!"

"Thank you! What is it?"

(sing song) "I'm not telling you."

By now you may be wondering what I sent to ChemE.

I'm not telling you.

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