In high school, taking her advice was a cinch. I loved the ID bracelet engraved HOLLAND (“Hope Our Love Lasts and Never Dies”) from Jeff. Stuffed animals, charms for my charm bracelet, and Evening in Paris perfume from Harry. Later, men would give me watches or paintings or rings or books and once a handbag I’d never have treated myself to.
Then I got married. When we lived downtown, he found antiques in the little stores that lined our street. Boulle boxes, a locket, silver frames. When we moved uptown, antique stores were no longer on his way home. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was. Turns out I married an On the Way Home guy, and for the next 27 years, every gift came from the Met shop—fake Faberge earrings, enameled ladybugs, Byzantine bracelets. Mesopotamian beads twice. Did I have to say I loved all these convenient gifts? I yearned to be more than an On the Way Home Wife. Should I have ignored my mother and been direct? I took almost every ersatz bijou back to the Met. The credits piled up.
Once I asked him, in the tenderest way, “Do you ever think of getting me something not from the Met?”
“I like Egyptian ankhs,” he said.
My mother stopped getting sock stretchers. She “trained” my father to shop at her jeweler, where she’d have visited earlier and picked out what she wanted.
“What do you think Audrey would like?” Dad would ask David.
“I think she’d like a diamond circle pin,” the jeweler would say. “What do you think of this one?”
Mom would open the box and squeal, “Cecil, you shouldn’t have!” It was their Gift Gavotte. He danced his part with love.
The last present from that husband was a Late Hellenistic choker. Again, I took it back. By then my credit was big enough to buy a William Wegman lithograph of Fay Wray in the tiny shop most people don’t know about up the steps in the back.
A present is a present, and what kind of curmudgeon isn’t grateful no matter what it is? If I’d loved that husband enough, I would have cherished a mop from him. My Met resentment was a symptom of something larger and darker: He was too hard to love presents from.
Patricia Volk’s memoir, How to Be a Woman: Elsa Schiaparelli, Audrey Volk and Me, is forthcoming from Knopf.
Some people like to travel by train because it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of an airplane.
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” —Everyone following you on Instagram
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.
Comedian Greg Davies
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
@yoyoha (Josh Hara)
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.