Earlier this year, while casting about for a birthday gift for my dearest, I found myself in a bit of a quandary. What do you get for the woman who has everything, from a solid gold Bentley with a champagne kegger in the back, to a lavatory encrusted with Swarovski crystals (which isn’t as uncomfortable as sounds as she has a couple of muscular bathroom attendants that keep her fundament comfortably hoisted a minimum of three inches above the facilities so that it never touches something as déclassé as a toilet seat)? Well the answer is, I don’t know, as I personally am not acquainted with anyone like the woman above. I’m not a hundred percent certain there is such a person, though if there was, she’d probably be married, or divorced, from Donald Trump.
I needed to come up with an idea for Mary’s birthday that did not entail buying stuff, as we have enough stuff, and don’t want any more stuff. As a matter of fact, we’ve been on a stuff removal and deletion kick for the past couple of years, so we probably have less stuff than most people and that’s the way we like it. Therefore the first rule of gifts is: no stuff. Even small stuff like jewelry, of which Mary feels that she already has an ample supply. Which is pretty awesome because as a man, buying jewelry is located on the list of things I want to avoid, somewhere between getting a root canal, and watching an episode of Teen Mom. As a matter of fact the few times I have been in a jewelry store to purchase something, the exchange has gone something like this:
Me, uncertainly, “Hmm, I guess that necklace looks pretty nice, maybe my wife would like it”.
Saleperson, eyes gleaming in anticipation of a fat commission check, “Oh, yes sir! An excellent choice. I dare say madame will be completely ecstatic with this magnificent necklace!” My interactions with salespeople always seem to sound like something out a 1930’s screwball comedy, at least in my head. Of course, I also like to imagine that convenience store clerks sound like Mr. Drucker, the general store proprietor in Green Acres.
Me, “So how much is this thingy worth?” Unfortunately I never sound as cultured and worldly as the folks in 1930’s screwball comedies, or indeed like much of anything outside of Animal House.
Salesperson,” Well, sir, a necklace of this exquisitiveness, and taking into the account the rarity of the gems, which come from a region of Columbia so remote if doesn’t even have a name, the price is of course, secondary to the intense pleasure your wife will derive from an object this beautiful.”
Me, “Sounds amazing, but I still haven’t heard a number.”
Salesperson, “Seventy-five thousand dollars, and if I might take the liberty of saying so, worth every penny!”
Me, vocally, “Ah, I see.”
Me, quite internally, “Holy freaking Buddha on a crutch with sprinkles on it, are you kidding me?”
So it’s understandable that I try and avoid such purveyors if at all possible.
If I can’t get Mary stuff for her birthday, then I’d have to get her something more experiential, like a trip somewhere exotic. Nowadays, exotic has come to have a different meaning then when we were younger. At our age the appeals of a hostel off the beaten path full of hung-over, dreadlocked, Birkenstocked backpackers holds surprisingly little appeal. We desire, no, need something with a lot more refinement, and most importantly a lot of air conditioning. Massive, overclocked air conditioning units the size of a city block.
Thus it was that I settled on a trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where the fabulous and justly famous temple city of Angkor Wat can be found. And most importantly, where there is a very, very good resort hotel. With air conditioning that I can state with authority can be dialed down to a temperature that will keep the ice from melting in your cocktail.