Present-Gate

Today is International I Don't Care Day.

I'm afraid I cannot share in the day's joy for two reasons. One, today is the longest day of the year (more on that tomorrow), and second, I have a mess to clean up (see below).

***

Monday's post turned into such a disaster that I realized I needed to write a follow-up post just to address it.




THE BACKGROUND

Kaida is an amazing gift giver, stemming from a generosity of spirit, creativity and sense of fun that is unmatched. And she loves giving gifts. At times I've felt overmatched, which of course is not the point of gifts. They are not a competition—and these feelings have nothing to do with her actions—but more my insecurities as a man fulfilling my stereotypical role of provider. Normally I'm a big gift giver, but with very no money it's difficult.

I mention this because I was so proud of myself about our upcoming anniversary. I'm still not flush with cash, but I managed to overcome two of my other flaws—procrastination and disorganization—and engineer a series of gifts meant to go together. None of them are that big on their own, but together I think they will add up greater than their sum.

Anyway, to make sure this all worked I had to order one part fairly early. (The other parts I was sending myself), and because of that I figured the gift might get there early. Because of the surprise effect I had to ask Kaida not only to not open the package, but not even look at the box shipping label, as the package's contents would become obvious. She agreed, of course, leaving me to get my part to her on time, which has been a massive struggle. (Once this whole thing comes off—assuming it does—I do plan to write about it in much more detail—but for now that's the story.)

Meanwhile: Kaida and I have always had this running joke about presents. She gets so excited about them—even more when she gives them. When a package comes in the mail for me she can't wait for me to open it, and as a wonderful boyfriend I like to torture her by pretending to be too tired to open it, and then when I finally open it reading all the mundane labeling on the outside while she's on the phone dying a thousand deaths.

Because torture is the basis of any good relationship.

I have constantly teased her about her penchant and excitement and desire to open gifts (or have others open gifts). Most of it is personality. She rips open the wrapping paper like a horny teenager with his first hooker, whereas I go slowly, savoring the experience, even trying to preserve the wrapping paper to use again for another gift. (This is my mother preaching in my head, as she always wanted wrapping paper saved because of expense. One more thing to tell the therapist.)

So that's the jist of it. In no way has this ever been a problem; just something we like to tease each other with. Then last weekend when we were discussing the packages arrival we got into a mock-argument about me sending her birthday present two months early to teach her discipline. We decided it would be funny to write it up as an actual fight, which I did.


ENTER THE COMMENTS

When I saw there were a fair number of comments I was very excited; for some reasons comments are hard to come by here at the Institute. When I saw the tone and tenor of the comments, though, I was horrified. I fully expected everyone to take her side—I wrote it up so overwrought how could they not—but the vehemence and underlying edge took me back. However, instead of dealing with it right then, I got defensive for some reason and left my own comment which was serious as well.

Matters further escalated when some of the comments were critical to Kaida. I'm somewhat used to the criticism (if not happy about it), but she's usually not a target. The two of us talked and wondered if I should address it, but I thought to just let it go and move on. However, the final straw came when the nastiest comment came from Sea Hag. The first few negative comments were from people who didn't know me all that well, but she and I go way back.

I called Sea Hag up that night. I swear this is the actual beginning of the conversation:

Sea Hag: Hello?

Hyperion: Did I call your mother a whore?

Sea Hag: Huh?

Hyperion: Did I kick your dog?

Sea Hag: No.

Hyperion: Then what the hell, girl? Why on earth would you leave a comment like that?

Sea Hag: Because Fuck You! How dare you do that to her?

Hyperion: What is wrong with you? You've known me for years. Have I ever in my life been that big of an asshole?

Sea Hag: Well no, but I thought maybe you'd fallen in with a bad crowd.


Sea Hag went to explain that initially she thought it was all tongue-in-cheek, but then after reading all the comments she decided it was serious and felt the need to weigh in. (In true Sea Hag fashion, she didn't have any hard feelings or think less of me; she just felt I needed a "Fuck You.") Suddenly all the comments locked into place.

For some reason—and I guess as the post's author I have to take responsibility for my poor humor skills—people thought it was serious. That almost made me madder. How could people think I was that big of a jerk? I mean, to send a present that arrives a few days early and ask the person to hold off until the birthday or Christmas; that's normal behavior, and I don't know anyone who would object. (And if they do, they have a problem.) But to send a present two months early out of spite? That's the kind of shit you break up with someone for, or at least you find out if they are being slowly poisoned by arsenic. For the record: IT WAS ALL A JOKE, MEANT TO ENTERTAIN YOU!

In true Hyperion fashion I feel I have to learn some life lessons here.


1 Don't put your Garbage in the street if you don't want people looking through it
None of this was ever serious; just a private running joke, but by writing about it publically I brought both of us into the public debate and up for criticism, especially since the satire wasn't clear.


2 Be Careful What you Wish for
Part of the reason I'd written it was because I was so disappointed that my BRICK review, which I loved, had gotten no comments at that time and little traffic. I have been whining about comments for months—partly because I see sites that I consider so inferior get so many of them—and I was hoping this post would generate controversy. And then some.


3 You cannot predict how something in print will look to someone else
How many times have you written an email where your nature was misunderstood? Where a tone of voice would clearly demonstrate joking, sometimes it's not as clear in print. We have all had that experience—on both sides of the aisle. I should have proof-read my column with an eye towards whether the humor stood out. This is truly one of the last sentences I ever thought I'd utter, but IF ONLY I'D USED EMOTICONS!


8 comments:

Koz said...

Speaking of emoticons - has anyone seen AFI's new list of the top 100 movies of all time?

Actually that has nothing to do with emoticons but I didn't have a better segue.

Sea Hag said...

I think we all could use a big Fuck You every so often, just to keep us all modest.

I'm going to go check out the AFI list, I'm sure some of their choices will get a big ol' Sea Hag Fuck You.

Kingfisher said...

I'm just a despised asshole, but it seems to me that everyone involved over-reacted with ludicrosity. Mountain, meet molehill.

This ain't church. Say what you want, man. And say it however you please. Fuck everyone else.

rennratt said...

Ah.

NOW I get it.

Please put me on the list of people that were too upset to comment.

I am truly relieved that I didn't.

Congratulations to the two of you; may this gift series be the best EVER.

Hyperion said...

Koz - Hold your horse. Analysis coming.

Sea Hag - Fuck You. (That should be our new greeting from now on.)

Kingfisher - "I'm just a despised asshole" is always a good way to start a conversation. I used to tell people that my Indian name was "Unmet Potential" (sometimes translated by the Sioux as "Failed Expectations"). There should be a place to get these stylings on a business card. You may be right about ignoring the whims of others, though.

Renratt - I'm having a hard time figuring out if you're sarcastic or not, but taking you at your word, know that whether you're happy as a goat at a 3-D Andy Warhol Convention or miserable as a Cyclops with glaucoma, any comment you want to make is ALWAYS welcome here at the Institute.

Sea Hag said...

Fuck you too, Hypey. Fuck you too. :)

rennratt said...

I was being serious. Just so you know for sure.

Tobias the River Midget said...

Wow, that rennratt picture is hot. do you really look like that?