Love Gesture or Torture?

My hubby is the best gift giver in the entire universe. Seriously. Sometimes I find myself moaning and groaning about the fact that he isn’t present in the moment (because he’s usually doing something annoying like working from home so that he can earn money to give people those gifts) but he always surprises me with home much he really is paying attention.

Back in the Middle Ages when we were living together in sin (about one year pre-marriage vows) he gave me a super deluxe hair dryer for Valentine’s Day. I think I might have even got some super-fast acting dandruff shampoo as well. Several friends were horrified when I told them of the gift and I had to assure them that it was the best thing he could have ever done for me.

You see (if I haven’t mentioned this before), I tend to be a little on the lazy side. I complained about my situation for months but I would have been content to have stringy air-dried hair that created enough white stuff to rival any Colorado blizzard forever if he hadn’t stepped in to help me fix the situation. He got me what I needed and it was a beautiful thing. Now, I can’t really be sure of his motives (even to this day) but I believe it was between love for me and the need to not have unkempt girl on his arm when he ventured out into the world.

Later that same year he convinced several of his work friends to help him move a treadmill into our second floor apartment for my birthday. Some of my friends gasped! “What is he trying to tell you?” and “Are you serious?” were the comments I heard most. Now, I admit that I never said that I wanted a treadmill, but he knew that I was really big on walking and that it was going to soon be too cold to go outside and get my exercise on once the hard hitting fall weather was upon us. I took it for the lovely gesture it was—making sure that I could stay in my happy place. It wasn’t because he was sending me any kind of message about how I looked. I mean other than he know that I wasn’t happy with how I looked and he was more than willing to supply me with the tools to make me feel better about myself. Great. Now I’m crying.

Not that everything he has ever given me has been golden. I still have smelly lotions and underwear sets that some Victoria Secret models would think twice about putting on (really, lace is an effing bitch) languishing in my closet, but I still appreciate the gesture. But it’s the really the practical gifts that really push me into declaring him the “best gift giver in the entire universe.”

Take my latest birthday present, for instance. I got a beautiful card and a folded up piece of paper that told me that I was entitled to 1-one hour session to get my teeth whitened. It wasn’t something that I was actively looking for, but I had been making a few comments here and there over the last month about how my teeth weren’t looking too great. That I might want to try tooth whitening someday. He heard me and decided to use that as the catalyst for choosing my gift (besides, he knew I probably wasn’t going to take care of things on my own). I was ecstatic!

I knew that the closest place to get my teeth done was my local mall, so I penciled in the date and headed off to my shiny destiny. Only I got really nervous about the whole thing when I got there and I wouldn’t leave my parked my car. I was going to have to go into the mall. And not only that, I was going to have to go onto the bottom floor of the mall. Worse than that, I was going to have to go into the mall, to the bottom floor, on an early Monday morning when it was bound to be very, very quiet.

I sat in my car for ten minutes and plotted my entrance. I was having a little bit of difficulty concentrating on the problem at hand. (And I’m only now thinking that having We Didn’t Start the Fire on repeat wasn’t a great idea.) I was going to have to walk the gauntlet and it wasn’t going to be easy. I was going to have to get through the kiosk zombies.

In general, it’s never really easy to get from one side of the mall to the other—especially if you’re a woman. Perfumes, jewelry, hair extensions…I believe that it’s worse for women when it’s a one story mall (there is no escape route) but it’s still pretty difficult for the two story mall people because they really, really want to look at the shops down there, but they don’t want to get attacked by the kiosk zombies that are just waiting for them to get within ten feet of their establishment. The zombies can smell the fresh meat and they are ready for the attack.

I realize that there are some people out there that can handle kiosk zombies with one arm tied behind their back, and that there are some people reading this that are going to take umbrage with the fact that I am referring to them as zombies. I understand that people have to make a living (and I truly applaud that they are out there making the money) but I do not have even remotely close to the kind of personality that allows for being actively (I mean, I need to have my sneakers on) pursued by strangers while I’m trying to get my shopping on. I find the whole set up exhausting (yet, honestly, fascinating). In my experience, they people at those kiosks are either half asleep, engrossed with their phones, or hopping from foot to foot in anticipation of the chase (and, ultimately, kill). Zombies. Every last one of them.

Being the super genius that I am, I finally realized that I could avoid the zombies from practically every conceivable direction. I could just go in through Macy’s, but that would make me walk more and I always die a little whenever I amble through there. It’s not an establishment that was developed with me in mind. I could go in through the entrance of the sporting goods store, but it would take me past at least three kiosks. I didn’t have the energy. Eureka! I could come in through the food court, walk across the upper floor of the mall and sneak my way down on the escalator. Just one small kiosk would be in the way, and I could just feign interest in the architectural design of the ceiling as I walked casually past. I had a plan.

The risks of attempting the walk through the mall on an early Monday morning were far outweighed by the success I had getting in for an appointment. Took me ten minutes to get in and, after I was done, it was going to be ten minutes getting out. That was the plan. Strategery—it IS a word (and a handy, dandy way to get what you want). Yeah, I was a badass.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a completely successful attempt. I made it past the one kiosk only to find myself trapped in a tiny “room” with a person that hadn’t even hooked me up to the machine yet, but was already working on separating me from even more of my money. I didn’t have to run, but I did have to fight the battle. A battle that I won, by the way. No, I do not want any kind of special treatment to keep teeth sensitivity down! No I don’t want the home kit that will guarantee a whiter smile for the next three months! No, I do not want to buy any of your gift card specials. I just want my teeth to be whiter. Hook me up to the machine. Stat!

She backed down and I settled in. I was finally getting my teeth whitened and the stress of the morning was finally going away. The hour treatment was broken down into twenty minute segments which ended up being very helpful. Because my mouth was getting really dry, and my teeth were starting to ache a little. It was more like annoyance than any significant pain and I soldiered on. The second segment had me falling asleep. I sincerely think my snoring actually woke me up! The third segment had me floating in and out of consciousness, thinking about water and lunch. (Word to self, don’t go to a teeth whitening session on an empty stomach). My lips were feeling bruised and my tongue was like a dry sponge. I was ready to get off the train.

A few swishes of water and a check in the hand-held mirror a few minutes later and I was ready for the world again! Ten minutes to get out—that was the plan. But I was groggy, and achy, and I had just found out that I couldn’t eat for two hours and I wasn’t going to be able to eat anything that wasn’t white or clear for the next 24 hours. Dafuq?! This wasn’t a birthday gift—it was torture. My teeth were whiter, but they weren’t that much whiter! I left a pathetic tip (I really wasn’t thinking about having to tip the tooth technician) and hightailed it out of there. Ten minutes out. I know.

But (sigh) I took a right instead of a left and ran straight into the eyebrow shaping kiosk. No thank you, my eyebrows are fine. I scoped out the nearest escalator to the food court and made a bee-line. But (shit!) there’s the face rejuvenating girl that looks like Maggie Q from Divergent. I would never make it! Oh wait, there’s a small family I can adopt for a second. Okay, place myself behind the mom and the stroller and pretend I’m looking into the Apple Store. Success!

Almost there…almost there…I can do it…and I did. I stepped onto the escalator and mentally patted myself on the back for my escape. I knew that I had made a bonehead move going the wrong way into the pit, but I stayed alive to fight another day. I pulled my jacket onto my shoulders and looked up—right into the eyes of the Proactiv lady. Shit!

Sore, exhausted and hungry as hell I scowled at the woman enough to make her stop mid stride and turn to walk to the other side of the kiosk. Always polite and happy, this one. I stalked all the way to my car, completely aware of the fact that the mall had won. I should have stayed more aware. I should have eaten breakfast. But more than that, I should have paid for the goddamned tooth sensitivity kit.

I drove home and thought about my morning. Despite all of the (self-induced) stress and the outrageous pain I was feeling–I really did appreciate the hubby’s gift to make me happy. I went on with my day and made sure that I gave him a great big smile and hug for my awesome gift. Then I had him make dinner and fold the laundry. Happy Birthday to me.

©DRB 2016

photo: me by me

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