Vail Valley Voices: The dangers of re-gifting
Vail, CO, Colorado
I’m an odd sort. I never liked presents.
Birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter – the holidays are all the same to me and equal with the rest of the days in a year’s time.
I have explained to most former partners in my failed relationships that “I will love you 365 days a year. I don’t need a calendar to tell me I need to love you more today. Therefore, you could receive a present at any moment, on any given day.”
I would further explain, “I think it makes life and our relationship more rewarding and exciting. Don’t you?” (Apparently not.)
I have a pretty good idea where and when I picked up on this rather unconventional attitude.
It stems from my family, specifically, my mother.
She would gift religiously and had a calendar to make sure she never missed anyone, for any reason.
I rebelled and have chosen the mirrored universe of my mother, and in this universe, there are no gifts. Every so often, though, an alien presence delivers the unthinkable.
Recently, I received a present from a girl I’ll call Lisa because that’s her name. It was in January (a Christmas present delivered late) and presented to me with half a dozen friends in attendance. We were drinking, and this is how the exchange went down:
“Greeeeeg, I got you something.”
“Lisaaaah, I didn’t get you anything.”
“That’s OK. You are going to love this.”
I opened up a large, white envelope and announced to the crowd, “Wow, it’s a bowling lesson … from a professional bowler.” You can imagine my excitement.
Lisa was very serious when she said, “She is a professional from Oklahoma, and she is only here for another week, so you have to use it by then.”
I was speechless, and I’m never speechless. I think I said, “Wow, it’s a bowling lesson.”
I immediately thought “re-gift,” but I didn’t mention anything at the time. (Lisa is a dear friend and I didn’t want to give any impression that I was not grateful because I truly was.)
A few days later, I was bowling with my team. Yes, I actually do bowl in a mixed league and I assure you, only for fun. (I would never entertain the thought of quitting my day job to join the jet-setting lifestyle that professional bowlers must enjoy.)
I look to my teammate that evening and say: “Mary-Beth, did you ever think about taking a lesson? I have one and I’m not going to use it. Just don’t tell Lisa that I gave it to you.”
She accepted the terms of the
This is the part that makes re-gifting dangerous. You think you’ve dotted all your T’s and crossed all your eyes and then Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head.
The bowling cnstructor calls Lisa and wants to know if it’s OK to let “another party use the lesson she had purchased” for me. (Women can sometimes be such non-co-conspirators.)
I’m busted and get the call from Lisa that night.
She was upset, disappointed and grief stricken with me.
It took everything I’ve got to convince her it was a great gift and appreciated: “You know I’m your friend for life, and if you would just forgive this heartless act.” I continued well into the evening: “We should not throw away all these years and our friendship because of one stupid performance on my part.”
I was ultimately forgiven, and it’s a good thing we are not married because I’m not sure we would still be together.
One of the valuable lessons I learned from this adventure was that from here on out, only re-gift with men.
What do they care if someone else winds up with a gift you’d never use?