Bedtime is a confessional state. Individuals praying to their Gods. Between lovers. For Helena when I tuck her in.
"You know how some boys like pink? And they play with dolls?" OK.
(In theory, we are a generation enlightened beyond such stereotypically gendered roles; but in reality, today as always, boys gravitate toward some things, girls toward others.)
"Well, I really like cars."
"I'd really like to have some cars to play with."
"Like Nicholas. Nicholas has hundreds of little cars."
"And a garage. I'd like a garage to keep the cars in."
We'd been together a little over a year — J-F and I — when another birthday of mine rolled round. It was quite evident from an afternoon phonecall that he'd forgotten. I don't know who finally clued him in — maybe a coworker, or maybe I dropped the hint myself.
Unusually that day I got home from work before he did. Doubtless he was scouring every inch of every store on the 7-block route from office to home for a suitable gift.
He arrived finally with a large package. I don't recall if it was wrapped. I do remember examining the box, and even as I was opening it hoping the box was just a box, a decoy, and despairing that it wasn't.
Not many interesting shops between the office and home, I know, but of all the options available at RadioShack, I wonder that he couldn't find something more sentimental than a pair of remote-controlled sports cars. (Any gadgety lusts I ever have harboured weren't of an automotive variety.) He thought they'd be fun for playing with the cat. Only one of the car–remote sets came equipped with batteries, and the trial run, on carpet, was less than stellar.
I kept the set boxed and untouched for days, thinking he might exchange it. He did not. Finally I closeted it, along with my anger. I never did tell anyone what he got me for my birthday; it was just too ludicrous.
Almost a dozen years and at least three domiciles later, the cars are out of their box and freshly batteried, and the anger has dissipated. The new cat is about as impressed as the old cat, but the girl is ecstatic.