“So, what did you get me for Christmas?”
This question has hit my ears many, many times this December. In the middle of a conversation, while cuddling, in the midst of kisses, while we are making supper – any time S. thinks my guard is down, he asks me what I got him. Every time, I say, “I’m not telling you!”. I’ve got years of experience in resisting curiosity. I have my mother to thank for that – if you can surprise her, you can surprise anyone.
S. and I have different mentalities when it comes to gifts. S. doesn’t care about being surprised as long as he knows he likes what he’s getting, and that he isn’t going to get multiple copies of the same thing. It’s a practical, pragmatic approach to gifts that is almost completely foreign to me.
I like being surprised. Of course I like getting things that I like, but if someone has gotten me something that I didn’t expressly tell them to get me but they thought I would like it, that matters more to me than what the gift is. The fact that they put thought into what to get me is what matters to me – and if they know me well enough to risk like that and get me something I like too, then, well…then you’re golden.
S. is golden. He didn’t even ask for a list. He just went out and risked, and his risk paid off. He got me a gloriously soft and fluffy and big bathrobe and a Sam Roberts CD, both things that I mentioned in passing, brief comments that he made mental notes of. I am very pleased and touched that he remembers things like that. I mean, I knew he listened to me when I talked, but it is always nice to see that proven.
Although S. liked surprising me, he didn’t want me to surprise him. But I stuck to my guns – no matter how many times he asked, no matter how distracted I was when he asked, I refused to tell him what I got him. I did a lot of scheming and I wasn’t about to crack.
However, I do need to spill the beans here or the rest of the story doesn’t make sense. Let me take you back to the end of August, 2006. S. and I were going to go and watch a movie for his birthday. He was eagerly anticipating going to see Lady in the Water. We phoned the local movie theatre. It wasn’t playing but we weren’t surprised. It’s a small theatre. We phoned theatres in Calgary. Every single one of them had the same thing to say. Lady in the Water wasn’t playing there anymore. It was very disappointing and irritating.
Within days I had a brilliant thought. What if I got him Lady in the Water for Christmas? That might not seem so brilliant until you know that every New Years the technical people in this theatre town set up a projector and a huge white cyc (which is a screen, basically) and watch movies. It’s like being at a movie theatre. What if I got the projector set up earlier so we could watch it on a big screen? It would be like I brought the movie, and the theatre, to S. Brilliance indeed.
So I did my research. I discovered that Lady in the Water was about to be released on December 19th. I talked to the tech people and got the projector set up. I phoned S.’s family and told them what I was getting him, and swore them to secrecy. Then, when the release date arrived, my friend R. and I made up an excuse to go to town by ourselves, and I bought the movie. I secreted it away in my underwear drawer and kept on misleading S. into thinking that not only had I had his gift for weeks, but that it was hidden somewhere he’d never find it. And I told him I wanted to watch a movie on the projector – so what did he want to watch?
He went and borrowed some movies that he thought would look good on a big screen – King Kong, Monster House and X-III. “I wish Lady in the Water was out,” he said with a sigh. “That would look good on a big screen.”
“Yes, it would,” I said with my best actor face.
After supper, R., L., S. and I went to the Studio Stage where the projector was set up. I had the movie in my backpack, hidden under a blanket and cans of pop. R. and L. were in on the plan – but apparently the technical people were not, for when we arrived we found the cyc, but not the projector.
“I thought B.G.G. had set this all up,” I said.
“Maybe he just meant the screen was up,” S. said. “It doesn’t matter, we can just watch a movie in Lola’s.” Lola’s is the student lounge. It has a nice television at least – but I was somewhat disappointed. Whatever. Plan B, phase 2.
I went to the washroom and extracted the film from the case, hiding the case in my backpack again and holding the disc carefully by my side. I walked back to the lounge, where R. and L. were serenading S. on the piano while he organized the couch and wiped down the tv screen. R. looked up when I entered. S. had his back to me, so I frantically mouthed, “Distract him! Distract him!” and showed her the disc.
R. is one smart cookie. “Hey, S., are the lights still on in the set shop?”
“I think so,” he said.
“Where are the switches?” R. knows exactly where the switches are.
S. looked at her with a puzzled expression as he explained their location.
“Okay.” R. and L. walked down the hallway to turn off the lights – and S. turned towards the movies. Great.
Then L’s voice came down the hall. “S., we can’t find them!”
S. shook his head. “Frick!” he said and he got up and walked down to help the clueless women. I quickly opened the DVD player and inserted the disc. Where the hell’s the remote? I thought. Do I just push play and hope for the best? I could hear them coming back. I pushed play and stood up.
The screen turned black just as S. entered the room. “What are we watching?” he asked. “A movie,” I replied.
“You can’t just pick a movie for all of us,” he said, going over to the stack of full DVD cases. Dammit!
“Well, I just did,” I said, as he began to open the cases to see what we were watching. I grabbed the only one he hadn’t opened yet.
“X-III? Okay, fine…” he said. He went over and picked up the remote from its hiding place on the shelf. The sound of water came over the speakers, and the image from the trailers, of Paul Giamatti looking down into the pool, came onto the screen. “This is what I want to watch,” S. said.
As the words left his mouth, the image arranged itself to be the DVD menu. S.’s brow furrowed and his mouth opened. “What…?”
“Merry Christmas,” I said with a very smug grin.
He blinked and gave his head a little shake. He looked at me and back at the screen.
I laughed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so confused or surprised in the two years I’ve known him. “Come sit down,” I said. “Let’s watch the movie.”
He smiled and shook his head. “Thank you, sweetie,” he said, and he gave me a kiss. “You got me. It’s hard to get me.”
I giggled and kissed him back.
I’m glad I kept the secret. I think my way of doing presents is much more fun.
And I think maybe now he’d agree.