Surprise Gifts

I’m the easiest person in the world to buy a gift for because my interests are so varied and my taste so eclectic. And I’m fond of staples such as bath salts—even a honking big container of plain old epsom salts is good because I’m sore all the time and enjoy soaking in a warm bath.

I threw a minor hissy fit one day about always finding neat stuff for other people and no one wanting to find surprises for me. This was aimed primarily at Diamondqueen, and apparently it struck a nerve. She e-mailed me a very rude message saying she’d bought me a “surprise” and screw me if I didn’t like it.

The package felt heavy and solid; I couldn’t imagine. There was wood, I discovered, as I tore open the wrapping. When I’d completely exposed the gift, though, I let out a shriek of surprised laughter. I was holding a framed

"American Pickers," flying monkey, "Big Lebowski" stuff

autographed photo of the “American Pickers” guys, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. I’m an “American Pickers” devotee, so I was truly delighted. Diamondqueen had chosen a weathered-looking, heavy wood frame for the photo; something, she said, that looked like “some of the old crap they’re always digging through” on the show. And here she’d thought she couldn’t find a great surprise gift for me.

I’d given her a nudge toward Kirks Folly jewelry, which I love; but since I rarely actually wear jewelry, I hesitate to ask for it because most pieces are costly. I also don’t like to ask for expensive presents. I told Diamondqueen if she was desperate, she also could surprise me with a Kirk’s Folly piece of her choice, hoping she’d find something for sale on QVC.

I was thrilled to open an elaborate flying monkey pendant dangling all kinds of Wizard of Oz charms. It’s hung on a thick gold chain and reminds me of that medallion St. Thomas More wears in the Holbein portrait. I think I can burn calories with that pendant around my neck, but I do plan to wear it now and then. And I’m going to rig up some way to hang the necklace for display. It’s too cool to tuck away in a jewelry box.

I also got a “The Big Lebowski” kit filled with all kinds of neat “The Dude” stuff, including a bowling shirt patch, a mouse pad that looks like the stolen carpet (it ties the whole room together), and a severe toe with nail polish. This allowed me to drop F-bombs on Christmas Eve with impunity as I quoted some of my favorite lines. (I told you my tastes are eclectic!)

Kids seem to worry less about how a recipient will judge a surprise gift. Both Hooligans gave me really great gifts, and they seemed confident that I would appreciate them. J.Hooligan gave me a scented bar of goat milk soap, which he knows I love, and an elaborate folding scrapbook filled with photos of our Chicago trip (he picked out

Treasures from the Hooligans

the photos, and Diamondqueen pasted them in the scrapbook). S.Hooligan presented me with a potholder she loomed herself, with assistance from Diamondqueen finishing the edges. She chose the colors, bright and lively, like her. Of course, S.Hooligan’s gifts often don’t remain surprises. I took her Christmas shopping, and for her mother she chose a very ’70s-looking owl ornament. She proceeded to give her mother the hints “it hangs on the tree” and “it goes ‘who-who.'” Fortunately, S. told me only that my gift had something to do with crocheting, so I wasn’t even close guessing the potholder.

NUDGE: Write about the most interesting surprise gift you’ve ever received. It can be something you received for any occasion, and it doesn’t have to have been a good surprise. How did you react when you opened it? What did you do with it? Extra points if the bad surprise later turned out to be especially good, something you were surprised to realize you were lucky to have.


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