In my opinion, all gift givers fall into one of five categories: 1) those who care only for recognition of their “generosity”; 2) those who give what they think the recipient should have, whether or not that person actually likes the present; 3) those who investigate a recipient’s actual wants and needs and try to fulfill them; 4) those purchasing the first remotely acceptable item they can find, in order to cross shopping and gifting off their to-do lists as soon as possible; and 5) those who subscribe to the adage that it’s the thought that counts, although the recipient hasn’t the vaguest idea what the giver could’ve been thinking. My friend’s father apparently falls into the last of those categories.
Yesterday was Ava’s birthday. As I do each year, I sent her a card and called to sing one of the world’s worst renditions of “Happy Birthday to You.” I also inquired as to the presents she’d received. In response, she informed me of her father’s curious gift.
“Richard,” she began. “In a million years, you’d never guess what my dad gave me.” Wisely, she added “And don’t bother trying, ’cause I don’t need to hear any of your ridiculous stabs in the dark.”
Without further ado, she continued: “… Twenty Uses for Bounce Sheets.”
“Come again?” I replied.
“You know ‘Bounce’ fabric softener? Those sheets you put in the dryer? My father gave me a list of twenty other things you can do with those sheets.”
Naturally, I found the concept hilarious. “You mean an actual sheet of paper with a list on it?”
“Yep. He typed it up. He even used a fancy font for the title.”
Prior to hearing of Ava’s present, I’d always thought Bounce did nothing more than remove static from clothes. I said as much too.
“Not according to my father,” Ava reported. “He says you can use the sheets to repel mosquitos and other tiny creatures, to remove odors from smelly items like shoes, and to scrub baked-on foods from cooking pans.”
“It sounds like the list may come in handy,” I offered.
“We’ll see.” She admittedly sounded dubious, for reasons which seemed justified when she explained: “You wouldn’t believe some of the items my dad included. Collecting cat hair from furniture? He knows we don’t have a cat! And putting the sheets in a sleeping bag and tent before storing them? When have I ever gone camping?!”
“Fine; so he included one or two that might not personally benefit you. At least you’ll have an opportunity to test out the others. Just how much Bounce did he send for your experiments, along with the list? A lifetime supply? A case?”
“Not even a single box, Richard! Apparently, if I want to use Bounce to keep ants away, I’ll have to buy it myself.”