Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gifts & Giving

In exchange for my most recent sexual favours and general loving kindness, I have been given a stuffed cat. Not your everyday Toys R' Us soft toy variety with a vague approximation of feline features. No, the cat in question came curled asleep in an attached basket and looked like it had had a bad accident with a taxidermist. Batteries not included.

(Incidentally, with batteries inserted, the cat starts to snore and an area on its chest inflates-deflates accordingly. No kidding, I was proudly treated to a demo of its somnolent capabilities.)

In response, there was not much else I could do but give the boy an appreciative peck on the cheek before collapsing helplessly into laughter. All the while exclaiming, "No, I really like it! I think it's cute! I do! Really!" (Can the lady protest too much?)

Actually, I did appreciate the gesture - execution aside - especially since I had been a little glum after my real-life cat ran away. It was just probably not quite the response he was looking for.

So, if you want to give me - or any other woman really - a gift that provokes an indescribable urge to express gratitude with all available orifices, here are some things to bear in mind:

1. I'm not a material girl by any means but the general rule is, the more thought and effort put behind a gift the better. Had to climb Everest to get it? Great. Had to cross-train for months, lose 30 pounds, plot a course sans sherpa and almost asphyxiate yourself on the way? Even better. I can sell your story to Reader's Digest.

2. You will never go wrong with something very expensive for your typical materialistic Asian female. Hong Kong girlies and China brides especially luurve anything with visibly interlocking Gs, Cs, LVs. The gaudier the better - no imagination necessary. But remember, you are only as good as your last carat.

Since I don't even put up the pretence of monogamy with my men, I probably don't do enough simpering to justify 'very expensive' gifts. Some men disagree (I'm as surprised as you are), but their gifts just feel somewhat soulless. Still, if you must buy me something in this category, make sure it's a stylish classic and comes in a robin-egg blue box. No logos attached.

3. Flowers - Very common. Most girls love them, I'm no exception. But pick your buds with care. Roses are most likely to be chucked (too cliched), gerberias and sunflowers on occasion (poor aesthetic, no style) but lilies, hand-picked wildflowers, rare breeds of blue-speckled orchids, tulips flown in overnight from Holland get a beautiful vase and many proud, adoring looks.

4. A lot of the times, its not the gift itself but the ritual / experience of gift-giving that creates suspense, surprise and excitement. For example, every time I look at my left wrist, I remember a short bald stranger at the Bangkok airport duty-free who bought me a watch on a whim in exchange for my company on Business Class.

This is a great way to give me otherwise unromantic, functional gifts i.e. things I can 'use' but am just too lazy/financially-challenged/uninspired to buy for myself. Watches, laptops, silk blankets, mobile phones, yes. Kitchen implements, no, no and still no - even if you've arranged for them to be specially delivered by a SWAT team rapelling down the side of the house.

5. Anything quirky, soulful or just plain clever - I love! A handwritten invitation on personalised stationery. Poetry. Brazilian folk-dance CDs you enjoy and want to introduce to me. Jewellery made from leftover bullet shells from the civil war in Lebanon. Latest Japanese vibrating pellet that also makes your panties hot. Anything that makes me laugh and is good dinner-party story material - even a stuffed cat, I guess.