“How do you know they even want anything?” Annabel had decided that we should not buy Marie and Peter a baby present.
“Because they’re human. And because Max told me to.”
“If Max told you to jump off a cliff would you?”
I had to think about this. “That depends on if he went first.”
Marie and Peter have been recluse, changing nappies and greeting in-laws, at their home in the country since having Hector, their second baby. Now they are taking the kid on tour to the city and we’re meeting him for the first time this weekend. I had called Max for guidance on gift giving etiquette to independent and settled people.
“That’s not a reason Dean.” Annabel didn’t like my intention to follow Max’s lead.
“No,” I conceded, “but it helps to narrow down options.”
Since it is also Peter’s birthday we’re meeting the family at a bar. There’s no obligation to drink alcohol in the invitation, as it does not say that drinks are provided – and one supposes that drunkness with newborns is unbecoming. The invitation does ask that should partners be brought that, while most welcome, it should be advised to Marie and Peter for catering purposes. I didn’t need to advise them about Annabel since she is a fiction, though it did raise the gift giving question.
“They didn’t give you anything at your birthday.”
“I didn’t want anything.”
“And they didn’t visit.” Annabel smiled, or so I imagined, as she has this sort of vindictive streak, or so I imagine.
“Yeah, but they’re providing catering and driving down to see us. It feels like we should chip-in.”
“Really? Then what are you thinking of?” Annabel relented, her desire to mock my ideas too much to hold back on.
“Well, maybe a bottle of wine.”
“Do you want a drunk mother and father?”
“That sounds like a great plan.”
“Fortified? Litre of sherry? A flagon, we could get them a flagon and two straws. Plus a box of nappies and do it yourself manual for the kids.”
“Simon’s almost two. He can change Hector while his Mum and Dad get blotto.”
“Ok, bad idea. How about a gift voucher?”
“The kind of thing that says, Hey, do you enjoy shopping more than me? Why not give them some cash in a card.”
“You could give a petrol saver shopping docket and some cash. That’s what you want. To chip-in for their petrol.”
“I wasn’t literally meaning that. Let’s not do that.” The process with my fake girlfriend wasn’t helping. “Technically you’re not even part of this. I don’t know why I asked.”
“I help you think.” She crossed her arms. Annabel was right. I hate it when she’s right.
“Peter likes golf.”
She gave me a curious eye – in terms of a glare rather than handing me a random body part. “So?” she said.
“The kid doesn’t matter. It would be happy with nappies, and I’m not buying nappies or butt powder or cream or anything. Pete likes golf.”
“So? You can’t buy him a club.”
“I wont buy him a club. I’ll get a putting mat. He can practice putting in the house or somewhere while watching the kids. It will take five minutes to set up instead of driving out to a range.”
“That’s not a dumb idea.” Her voice was deflated.
“It’s a short-term fix he could use.”
“Did you think of this yourself?” She sounded proud.
“No, I had a little help.”