No More Alexander Hamiltons
There are many ways to fake knowing someone when it comes to birthday presents. The digital age is making it even easier with online gift cards through Amazon and iTunes. Gift certificates were becoming more and more prevalent as I became a reclusive teenager. We didn’t see my extended family much so it was a given that we didn’t know a lot about each other. Gift certificates were aplenty.
However, my Grandpa decided to buy me something on my seventeenth birthday, straying from the usual cash that looked like it had been through every war of the twentieth century. Alexander Hamilton was very worn by the time he got to my wallet. Grandpa’s gift was one of the last of the party. Everyone was in a good mood and laughing. Now, gag gifts were not uncommon on that side of the family. My uncle would present my dad with a twenty-four pack of toilet paper before giving him the newest version of Uncle Jon’s Bathroom Reader. Another common gift was movie passes, prefaced by a singular piece of candy in a gigantic box.
Grandpa handed me his gift. More than the usual card, I braced myself for a gag. Anticipatory giggling filled the room. I ripped open the small rectangular present. An instructional fishing DVD greeted my eyes. I immediately burst out laughing. My brothers and parents all joined in. What an amazing gag! We were almost to tears by the time I looked over to Grandpa. He sat very still in his chair, hands folded, straight faced. He didn’t get it. This was no gag gift. I tried to back pedal and look at it seriously saying things like, “Yeah, this will be useful.” But it was too late. Grandpa was pissed and hurt. And soon after the party, so was I.
Fishing had once been a big part of my limited relationship with Grandpa…when I was ten. I hadn’t touched a fishing pole in at least 5 years, much less watched instructional fishing videos. Since I entered high school, I was all about music. It was my life. Every day I’d go home and play guitar, bass, drums, and tuba (I know, tuba.) I even played at church to gain more experience. Fishing was dead to me, a relic of my childhood. Then I realized something: my Grandpa had no idea who I was. I became angry and spiteful. At least my other relatives went to the trouble to ask what stores I wanted gift certificates for. Grandpa was still convinced I was a prepubescent turd who loved fishing. A little late, old man.
Anyways, I was eventually forced to call my Grandpa and apologize for laughing but pointed out why. He didn’t take it so well. I think this was when he started being a crotchety old man, a good indicator of what was to come. We don’t talk much anymore, but that present will never be mentioned again.