I’ll never send another present to my sister, Lisa. Or more precisely, I’m never to send another present to Lisa, per her latest instruction.
Contrary to all expectations, Lisa opted to take her husband’s name upon marrying for the first time at the age of 54. Our whole family is surprised, and not merely because she’s proudly born the “Stern” surname for so long. Of equal significance, as Lisa Stern, she’s operated a well-respected private detective business for the past twenty-five years, and none of us thought she’d be willing to do business as Lisa Greenspan. But I guess we underestimated her commitment to a husband and the institution of marriage.
I wanted to help Lisa transition her business to the new name. After a bit of internet research, I found what I believed the perfect gift: a customized desk plate mounted on marble, for her office. Me being me, I couldn’t resist also purchasing a second customized desk plate as a gag. I arranged for the two plates to be shipped separately, but simultaneously, with the joke box labeled “1 of 2, OPEN FIRST,” and the legitimate plate’s package labeled “2 of 2, OPEN SECOND.”
My true present to Lisa looked stunning and suitably professional. Affixed to a green marble base, the brass desk plate contained: a) her new name on top, b) “Private Investigator” beneath and c) an engraving of her company’s logo to the side (taken from a business card she’d given me).
At surface glance, my gag desk plate looked no less professional than the serious version. It even contained the same materials and design. The difference lay entirely in the content. As with its legitimate counterpart, Lisa’s new name appeared on top; however, below it read “Private Eye.” And for the “logo” to the side I used a stylized – though unmistakable – image of a vagina.
On a subconscious level, I must’ve expected something to go awry. And it did, as my outraged sister explained just before directing me to “never, ever, under any circumstances send me a gift again.”
First off, my two packages did not arrive at her office simultaneously. The fake plaque turned up by itself one morning. Second, unbeknownst to me, I’d ordered Lisa’s gifts during the week her trusted secretary was vacationing. The temporary replacement – an industrious sort who believed in showing initiative – opened the package and, without consulting her employer, decided to display the plate on Lisa’s desk. The object sat there for an entire day before the normally-sharp-eyed investigator finally connected it to the raised eyebrows of three potential clients … each of whom (I was testily informed) took their business elsewhere.