The S’principle

Today is Monday, June 18, also known as International This Day in History Day. (See, now I don't have to edumacate you about the day. Go over and learn about it yourself. Go!)


So this is what happened:

I was talking to Kaida about an upcoming anniversary gift that was to arrive in the mail. I had to send the gift quite early to ensure it got there on time, and knowing her penchant, I felt the need to instruct her in the strongest terms that she was not to open the package until the actual day. Nor was she to "shake" the package, attempt to read the shipping manifest or even look at the upper left corner of the box in attempts to glean the contents therein.

Of course Kaida gets all bent out of shape over my edict, protesting there was no need for such harsh strictures. I begged to differ. I'm not judging (well, I am, but just not right now), but the fact is that Kaida belongs in that group of people who absolutely cannot stand a secret, such as a gift. It almost drives them crazy not knowing what's inside and they feel almost compelled to open it.

I don't have this. Maybe that's why I'm judgmental. I love the Delay of Gratification, and enjoy the savoring of a present almost as much as the actual opening. I like looking at a wrapped gift or an unopened box in the mail and imaging what it might be. I like making Christmas last as long as possible, and if I had my way would not begin to open presents until Christmas night.

But that's me and I acknowledge not everyone is like that.

However, for reasons I can't get into yet there are other compelling reasons to make sure that gift is not opened until the proper day. And even if there were not, I feel very strongly that gifts must need wait until the appointed time, else why celebrate the day at all?

Anyway, after a good bit of back-and-forth on this subject with Kaida I half-jokingly threatened to send her birthday gift two months early, forcing her to keep the package on the kitchen table and look at it, but not allowed to open it, if only to teach her some gift-discipline. Kaida responded (not at all joking) that were I to do that she would open the present out of spite.

(I tell you the truth, the two of us cannot have a single serious discussion without it devolving into one of the two parties threatening to do something completely rash, such as murdering every child with the middle name of "Ruttiger" or sleeping with many Romanian whores, all in the name of spite. Of course, it may not be "us," but anyone who deals with "me." Once I was arguing with my sister on the phone, who was upset that I did not give her a seven digit number for the new home phone but instead gave her a word (I totally love coming up with words for phone numbers, as they are much more fun to memorize) She threatened to never call the home phone again just out of spite. When confronted she maintained it was the principle, and we decided to combine the two words and call it "The S'principle!")

To my mind, this was Kaida's intent. She would open the gift for the S'principle of the thing. And while I appreciate the dissemination of my new word, I cannot disagree more strongly. The entire reason the threat was made, I explained, was to teach her a lesson in waiting on good things. Kaida responded that I was a jackass of high rank. (One assumes a Colonel, or at least a Major.) According to her I was sending the gift early in the first place because of "the S'principle," and any retaliatory measure she employed was more than justified.

The outrage! The indignity! The hoisting of petards! Here I am, clearly on the side of angels, trying to get a gift there on time, because of which it might come early, and compelled to place injunctions against early opening ONLY BECAUSE I KNOW SUCH WEAKNESS IS IN HER CHARACTER, and she turns it around on me like it's my problem!

Look, I have many problems too, and if you balanced the two of us together in the aggregate it would be a completely different picture. (I'd be at most a 40% more moral and better person than she. Well, let's say 43%.) But in this particular case I feel like I am completely in the right. Gifts should not be opened until the appointed day, and that I have to warn against this proves my case. And if—to teach a valuable lesson—I sent the next gift very early, I would be justified in doing so. And if—purely for the S'principle—Kaida was to open that gift early, she would earn enmity from the gods so severe that National Guard would be required to evacuate all residents within a 4 mile radius of her house in anticipation of the coming lightning barrage.

Kaida disagrees. She says I'm in the wrong for not trusting her. Moreover, she thinks it only human to want to open gifts as soon as possible, and those who counsel waiting and savoring to be inhuman monsters worthy of scorn and Brussels sprout-sized hemorrhoids.

So we agreed to ask you, the Hyperion Nation. Who is right? Am I right that waiting is more virtuous, or is she right to just rip open the package like a child (and not a well-behaved one at that)? And would I be justified in "teaching her a lesson," or would she be correct to ruin her birthday by opening said lesson early?

We await your judgment. (Unless of course you side with her in which case I will declare you all idiots and hold back my next Hyperion After Dark story, if only for the S'principle.)


Anonymous said...

Did you call me a petard?

If so, I refuse to leave a comment out of spite.

Your friend?
Rudy Ruttiger

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

It was very nice that you did send the gift early enough to arrive on time. But once the gift is in her hands, she's free to do with it as she sees fit. She could respect your wishes to not open the gift, but you really have no right in demanding that she wait. You's HER gift. This is the problem with Men, even when they do something "for the woman", it's still all about him.

Biff Spiffy said...

Ditto the Flaming Liberal above (Hi LJS!). Good of you to be early, but once it's hers it's hers. Demands of an adult are silly; requests will get you more mileage. Maybe. Freewill, you know.

I have a long and storied history with people who hate surprises. I packed a CD in a dishwasher box one Christmas to keep it from being guessed.

Rachel said...

Having once been in a similar position where I receieved a giant box from Coach a week before my birthday I will admit it was just too much and I opened it before the apointed time then had to go to the Coach store to have it re-wrapped percisely so I could open it in front of Kurt.
So I totally side with Kaida.
Fraility, thy name is woman.

Hyperion said...

Koz - Actually I called you John Luc Petard

Lady Jane Scarlett - Puhleeeeeeeeeeeeeze with a side of mashed potatoes. It is well documented that women are ten times more insane about presents than men, and ten times more likely to buy the gift they want men to have rather than what men actually want. (i.e., their younger sister.) What doesn't go mentioned is WHY I made such efforts to get a present there on time. You think about that and while you're at it, do you get cable up in that ivory tower?

Biff - Once it's hers, it's hers? That's absolutely silly. There can be a whole variety of reasons why something would need be sent early to avoid being late, and "possession is 9/10 of the law" is not the maxim that suddenly applies. Making demands of adults isn't silly either: that's what being an adult is, living by a set of standards society has (for some reason) deemed necessary. By your logic if I took my kid to a babysitter I would have no recourse if the babysitter wanted to eat the child. While perhaps in a "legal" sense the gift recipient owns the gift and can do what he/she wishes, in a relationship there has to be give and take. It is not unreasonable to ask someone to wait until an appointed day/hour etc., especially when quite a bit of time and trouble was spent. Again, by your logic, Kaida could give away the present within five hours to my worst enemy and that shouldn't bother me in the least. I bid good day to you sir.

Rachel - first accurate comment left. Frailty thy name is woman indeed! (And I include Biff as woman since he clearly is trying to join the club.)

Skittles said...

I side w/ Hypie - unless given permission or there is some other pressing reason - you wait - those are the laws of presents and those not realizing or abiding are wrong like chocolate covered poo.

Anonymous said...

I would think that legally the present is hers once she receives it in the mail. Hypey has a good point in that in a relationship it is necessary to respect the other person's wishes. Disregarding "S'Principle" for the moment, it is possible that there is a gift that would be enjoyed to a much greater extent if opened at a particular time, and it is not unreasonable to make such a request.

Not knowing the exact wording of the conversation, I suspect that Kaida came off indignant because Hypey pointed out something that he sees as a character weakness and she does not see it as such. Instead of labeling this tendency as a "weakness" or "flaw", phrase it in a manner that is less likely to offend.

It seems that Kaida might not care much about the timing of gifts, or at least does not appreciate a gift arriving on time to the extent that Hype does, so maybe it is a perfectly acceptable transaction to send the gift a little late. Or just pay for it to be delivered on the specified date. Or send it to someone whom you trust to give it to her in person at the right time.

Unknown said...

In my own defense, I always wait to open gifts from Hyperion when he asks me to. I might want to open it earlier but I don't. I respect Hyperion's wishes. I'll whine and complain a bit but I don't open them.

My problem with the conversation was when Hyperion said he was going to send me a present 2 months early JUST so I would have to wait to open it. He wanted to teach me a lesson.

Teach me a lesson! The nerve!

Sea Hag said...

I think you should pick your battles a little better, personally. If giving presents come with so many rules and addendums then it really defeats the purpose of giving a present in the first place, which was to make someone happy. If you give someone a present then treat them like a 4-year-old because they want to open it when they get it then that's pretty damn shitty.

Hyperion said...

All - I find myself shocked that this column produced such virulent reactions. Obviously I am going to have to write another column just to address it.

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