Presents? No, thanks!
"I get the feeling I've been stinting a bit in the present department", my
husband told me the other day - perhaps inspired by the task of folding all
the old, well-washed (off) white cotton knickers. He seemed to feel
responsible for the standard of my underwear - if he had been more of a
husband, I would have been a fart more elegant under the jeans and T-shirt...
For a split second I considered agreeing with him. In a nice way, of
course. Inside my head the phrase BETTER LATE THAN NEVER started floating
around, and I saw him trying to find his way around Magasin's lingerie department with a grubby little note of sizes.
But I didn't agree.
And it's not just because good lingerie is so terribly
unpractical: It's made of silk or some other fibre which will crumble if
machine washed at the temperature needed to get it clean. The knickers are
either loose enough to give no warmth at all or so tight they end up as a
nasty little twisted string between your buttocks. The bras make your
breasts flat as hamburger buns, pointed like Madonna's in concert, or squash
them into tennis balls.
No. The reason I didn't agree to let him deplete our account and fill
Cacharel's was a sudden certainty that time has moved us away from the days
when women needed to be not just adored and desired, but also showered with
A lot of men (and women) still have the idea that a devoted husband drops
things into the little wife's lap from time to time - flowers (NOT
supermarket cellophane-wrapped), jewelry, perfume or fur coats. He should
do it without prompting, and it must be totally needless luxury items. A
much-needed new corkscrew doesn't count..... It is completely beside the
point that they both work, and that she often makes as much as he does - if
not more. Yet society still perceives that only women should have these expectations. I mean - when did
a male friend last complain that his wife never brings him flowers? Or
doubt her devotion because it's been 8 months since she bought him a new tie?
Men give, women receive - and that's the long and short of it.
Or is it? A present can symbolize so much besides love. A bad conscience,
perhaps? Or it can be a very broad hint that the giver wants some
reciprocation later, between the sheets. A present can be a symbol of
financial power, reminiscent of the days when the husband held the purse
strings and by whim could control the wife by withholding money, and from
time to time drop a gift in her lap. The giver is always the person in
power in this little game. It was woman's role, in the days when she didn't
have her own income, to be the meek recipient of whatever trinket was bestowed upon her.
Those were the days when new knickers really meant asking permission to buy them or
wait to have them as a present. And I want no part or memory of that role!
I don't want to be bought, bribed or put into a debt of gratitude by an
expensive, unneeded present.
"So diamonds aren't a girl's best friend?" my husband asked.
"Yes, when she buys them herself" I answered.
"Can't I take you to dinner somewhere anymore?" he asked.
something completely different. And -
in this day and age you don't have to be a TOTAL fanatic.
"As long as I can take YOU to dinner sometime too."