Alexandra's GiftsSunday, August 23, 2009
I may have been 13 when I went to a tlapalería (a type of Mexican hardware store that is more basic and cheaper) on Avenida Ejército Nacional in Mexico City and bought my mother a pair of electrical pliers for her birthday. In my pocket I had the right sum of money. Everything else in the store, worth having (or giving), was beyond my budget. I never asked my mother if she liked her electrical pliers (the rubber grips were tested to withstand up to 23,000 volts!). And the pliers are still in our kitchen drawer although the thick insulating grips became so cracked that I had to remove them and throw them away. It is my guess that this talent for giving unexpected, and sometimes useless gifts, is a talent that my daughter Alexandra has inherited.
Ten years ago she gave me a tan polyester vest with some pockets (thankfully it was not one of those photographer’s vests) which I immediately buried in the darker confines of my closet. Just a bit curious I decided to try it on one day, many months later. It was comfortable. It washed easily and it kept my body warm without much weight or fuss. And it did not look like "one of those photographer’s vests!" I found other uses for it. It was great for airline travel as I could keep all my documents and tickets in the inside pockets. After repeated washings, seams have unraveled and I have had it repaired many times. I will have it repaired until it becomes impossible to do so any longer. I love my vest. Besides, Ale gave it to me.
Last night, in the middle of the night, I had an itch in my back and I could not reach it with my left arm. My left arm is no longer as flexible as it once was since I broke my elbow two years ago. I got up and went to the guest bathroom downstairs where I store Ale’s back scratcher. The relief was instant and most pleasant. By the scratcher I keep Ale’s rubber band gun. She gave it to me a few Christmases ago. I terrorized Rebecca and Lauren with it until Lauren learned to use it and she now terrorizes Rebecca and me. Notice that it is a repeater. It is a five-shot.
The loud sports shirt is Ale’s latest surprise gift. She knows I like the clothing of Mark’s Work Warehouse so she bought it there. The shirt was a tad too big so I put it into the washer with hot water and over dried it a few times. It almost fits. Putting it on somehow changes my perception of my world, what I am and who I am. My world is a predictable and logical one. I have worn the same type of turtle shell frame glasses since I was 30 and most of my shirts have button down collars. I dress conservatively. I am a creature of routine.
Every once in a while I spot men in the bus who are in their 60s (I am in my 60s) and they have a carefully constructed duck cut hair cut. They wear pointy shoes, black leather jackets and must look like older versions of themselves 40 years before. They look silly.
I would have never bought this fluorescent green shirt in a million years. I would have thought that I look silly and much too young.
My daughter Ale has seen in me something that I never suspected was part of me. Could I be just a bit more daring than I think I am? She does this gift-giving with a loose cannon irregularity. I love her for it and I must admit I now like my shirt. I cannot wait for her next shot across the bow.