More to the point, if I acknowledged the toothbrush as the first official gift, I wouldn't be able to tell you lot or my future children* that this was the first thing the man ever gave me:
oh, no no; it's not that easy. you have to wait for it. this one merits some serious suspense.
and if you scroll down to see it now without reading everything, than you're only ruining it for yourself.
i figured he'd bring me something back from Egypt. (Bear in mind that last night was the first time we've seen each other in almost a month, and the first time since I spent that night in terror of his life, when Dahab was bombed and all those tourists were killed. I've known for the last few weeks that he was fine, but through all the wedding and medieval conference proceedings (more on that later. maybe.) i just desperately wanted to get my arms around him and smell him and feel his hair tickle my nose and KNOW he was all right. Does that make any sense?)
I couldn't wait to see him. For one, I wanted to give him the pressies I brought from the States. I found the selection process very nerve-wracking because, as I stated earlier, first gifts say a lot. There's pressure there, mis amigos, mark my words. Too sappy and romantic and he might freak and run for the hills, too funny and cheesy he might infer I don't give a shit about him and only bought a gag-gift to fulfill the gift expectation. I especially wanted to choose something he would really like because the chili-flavoured olive oil I brought him from Italy didn't go over as well as I'd hoped. Though he is using it.
So I got a bunch of little things. Some time ago I had tried to explain the concept of root beer to him, and I just couldn't describe it, so I bought him a bottle. He aslo has a problem with all his flatware sliding out of his drain rack by the sink, and I had looked around here for an attachable basket for the drain rack to hold the cutlerly (a very common and unexciting household accessory back home) but couldn't find one anywhere, so I brought him one.
And finally, I wanted to get him something that was, well, more thoughtfull and less cheap, if you know what I mean. Something that says, "I know your tastes and your likes and dislikes, and I saw this and it made me think of you." (Not that i don't think of him whenever my eyes are open, but he doesn't know that. Eyes closed, too, now I think about it.*) And of course, I wanted it to be something very Michigan. (Sorry, I hate using political regions as adjectives, but there was just no other way to say that.)
Now, Michigan is only known for 4 things: cars, cherries, the Detroit Red Wings, and Motown.
I couldn't buy him a car, and a keychain with a Ford model-T on it falls squarely in the realm of cheap plastic thing i bought just so i could say i got you something. Cherries were a possibility, as there are all kinds of really good local cherry products available: jams, conserves, compotes, syrups, candies, etc. I even considered that I could make a cute little joke about how I always seem to be giving him my cherries, but a) it wasn't that funny and b) Hairy doesn't like sweets. He never eats pudding. or jam. or anything like that. And fresh cherries aren't in season and you can't bring them through customs anyway.
That leave the Wings and Motown. Hairy doesn't follow hockey at all. Scratch one. Motown?
You do know what Motown is, don't you? Oh, very well. (Musicians feel free to skip the following paragraph.)
Motown is a nickname for the city of Detroit, called The Motor City, or Motor Town, or Motown. It's also the term applied to a unique style of pop music that originated in Detroit in the 1960s. Motown combines 60s pop with soul and R&B; it's characterized by it's smooth sound and intricate harmonies. Some of the best-know Motown artists are Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations, The Four Tops, the Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder. This was the golden era of Motown; pulsing, undulating melodies about life, love, and pain, being created when the Detroit economy was collapsing, the city was being torn apart by race riots, and Americans the nation over were protesting the Vietnam War. My mom is from Detroit. She still tells stories about when she used to walk to work from her apartment past burned out buildings and watch the National Guard snipers patrolling the rooftops, looking for (black) looters. (Not that all the looters were black; it's just the National Guard historically doesn't shoot white looters.) I grew up listening to Motown. My local radio station used to have Motown Mondays; all Motown, all day long. Fucking awesome.
I didn't know if Hairy liked Motown specifically (people seem to either love it or hate it, my mother being in the former category and my father being in the latter), but he likes a lot of music from the 60s and 70s, so I thought I'd take a gamble. Also, it seemed personal, as sharing music is a reasonably prominent part of our relationship. When we're in the car on one of his little weekend adventures, we bring along CDs we want the other to hear. And on lazy weekend mornings, we lie in bed, sipping tea, and listen to music together. I love those mornings.
So I went to the record store and deliberated between a compilation of greatest hits of Motown (all the big names represented and most of the most well-known titles), and a collection of greatest love songs of Motown. I wasn't sure how he'd feel about it, if it sent too strong a message, but I went out on a limb and got the love songs.
This brings us up to last night.
(You realize of course that all this is just build up. Have you forgotten the original reason why you are here? I'll give you a hint: to find out what Hairy brought me from Egypt. I'll give you a second hint: it's not a plastic pyramid on a key ring.)
I have him the root beer. He smiled and put it in the fridge.
With much fanfare, I gave him the flatware basket. He lauged, kissed me, and put it in the drain rack. The he washed a fork that was lying on the counter just so he could try it out. (Yeah, that man is adorable.)
Then, with much apology and insisting that If he doesn't like it I'll completely understand etc etc, I have him the CD.
And he loved it.
By this time, I had completely forgotten that he said he bought me a present as well. I was just pleased that I had managed to find something to his taste that he would enjoy and would be a little reminder of me during his day.
So he leads me back to the bedroom, puts his arms around my waist and says, "I have something for you, too. You can hang your coat on it."
"Mmm," I smiled, sliding my hands down the back of jeans. "I like those gifts," I said, offering him my mouth.
Without kissing me he pulled away abruptly and got down on his hands and knees and pulled a large package out from under the bed. It was wrapped messily in newspaper and plastic grocery bags. "I had to get one of the fruit sellers in the bazaar to weigh it for me so I could be sure I could bring it back and still be under my weight limit for luggage."
I took the package from him. It weighed a ton! Well, about 8 or 9 pounds I estimate, but that's a lot more than I was expecting. The package was oblong in shape, about 15 inches long and 8 inches in diameter at its widest bit. I was intrigued, to say the least. My first thought was that it was some kind of exotic mellon or something.
was i right? not by a long shot. No, i don't think anything could have prepared me for this...
(it has to be a surprise you know.)
(can you take the suspense?)
oh all right; here you go:
Oh. my. fuck.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is a hand-carved, 15-inch tall, soapstone sculpture depicting the predynastic Egyptian fertility god Min.
HOW UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING COOL IT THAT!!!!!
Seriously. Is that not the most incredibly ballsy (literally), crazy, funniest, thoughtful, wickedly cool first gift EVER? You can't tell me it's not.
No one's ever bought me sculpture before.
This to me says
- You're mature enough to appreciate this as art without giggling, but have enough of a sense of humor to still be entertained by it.
- I went to a lot of trouble and effort to bring this rediculously heavy, monstrous gift to you in my hand luggage.
- I may be a lot of things, but boring ain't one 'em, baby. boo-yeah!
Got comments? Oh I know you do! (I hope that was worth the wait.)
*"I only think of you on two occassions. That's day, and night..." You know you got it bad when cheesy-ass tunes like this start sounding profound. Shoot me now before i decide Michael Bolton is a great 20th century philosopher.