Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dad's present makes daughter tense

I haven't ever bought my father a decent birthday present. I know I blog a fair bit about birthdays, but he turns 63 tomorrow and so far what I have for him is toe-nail clippers. He announced a few weeks ago that he needs a good nail cutter but if anyone in the house has any plans to get him something, can it please be those scissor-like toe nail clippers. So I got them. They're lying in my desk drawer. I'm not sure it qualifies as a gift worth wrapping.

Mental checklist down the years:

Parker pen, denim shirt, nothing, music for his car, long apologetic card, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, golf balls, golf tees, nothing, chocolate cake...

One year -- two years ago -- I thought I 'd give him a year's subscription of TIME magazine. Never happened. My debit card threw a a tantrum and refused to work. The then-friend-now-boyfriend offered to to pay with his credit card but I was very upright and, "No, no don't bother." End result: no present, only apology, and as a bonus, a boyfriend who says don't-look-at-me-I-TOLD-YOU.

I'm a fool. But men are a pain. Buying presents for them, only more so. It is a lot easier gifting the mother something nice. And then she doesn't chew the father's brains about how they failed in raising my brother and I, or insensitive wretches as we're lovingly called.

When he turned 50 -- in 1997 -- we had a party. And the sweet, darling, not-always-insensitive-wretch daughter that I am, I wanted to make something nice. So I ripped the back of some rough-work register and used a really tiny scissor to cut out a cardboard 5 and zero. Fine tuning my artistic ability, I used a thick brush and water colours to paint the cut out numbers black. Then I took left over shiny wrapping paper -- bright pink and silver -- and cut it into shreds. I might have been trying to achieve the glass-shards-on-boundary-wall look. You get it? Sprinkle pink and silver bits on brown and vaguely-cow-dung-smelling cardboard to create a disco 82 effect. Except instead of glass chips and cement and barbed wire, I had glue and shimmery wrapping paper. It showed effort. It came out well. And for the longest time, till we moved house, my father had the 5 & 0 pinned to the notice board in his study.

Since then, I have only gone downhill. But I'm thinking of pulling up my socks by tomorrow. Given he's writing a book, as a component of his present, along with the clippers, I took a print out of this: Ten Rules For Writing Fiction and put it in a display file, all 16 pages. (Not so bad, huh?:))

I figure it's a handy thing to have in the book shelf at home. I have use for it as well. See, I tell myself, I'm a thinker. I really do come up with the best ideas. As of today, I was going to get him a new cell phone. Really. I was. I might still. You never know with me.

People suggest alcohol. Get him a bottle of whiskey, it seems. But Pappy don't drink. Rather, he drinks only beer, but a crate of Kingfisher with a big red bow is inappropriate.

To make things worse, my brother gets to use the I'm-not-there excuse. So I get to cover his ass and write his name in the card -- before mine, since he's the first born, and reversing the natural order of our birth would be a cheap tactic to remind our parents that all credit or otherwise should come to me, me, and his name is here only for show. I mustn't stoop so low.

Maybe I should get him a pen drive. For the chapters in his book that might otherwise get lost or corrupted. Or revamp his summer wardrobe so that the young people in his office think he's an affable old chap, but also well-groomed. Or shall I be wishy washy and get him a cologne? Boss? Hugo? Eww. Shaving blades? Bob Dylan biography? Life time supply of vanilla ice cream and 300 Cadbury's chocolates?

The thing about parents is that they're a nuisance. Freak pedicure gadgets apart, they won't say what they wan, or won't want anything that will, in their books, cost too much. Truth is, I can be cheap, give my father a birthday hug, and even that will make him happy.


Janaki said...

Hmmm... My sister did give her boyfriend a crate of beer.. but yes, dad would be another matter.

The Bald Guy said...

Go hug him and tell him you love him,

And tell him he did a fine job of bringing up his baby girl.

The Bald Guy said...

And I always give him a mobile each year. I know it sucks, but I cannot think more than that.

Mobiles and jeans and tees.

Right now, he even has some identical jeans.

Don't glare at me, not my fault. Blame West side for stocking up on identical jeans year after year.

Nimpipi said...

J: Crate of beer can be well received by a certain type of boyfriend:P. Not particularly thoughtful, but beats a shirt, tie, book.

Fathers, sigh, yeaaa... totally another matter.

Bald G: Aww. I'd feel shy to say something as sweet as that. Fine job bringing up his baby girl:))

I don't know how you get the right fit for your father. I have always wanted him to get mine better pair, but what if they don't fit? Mine's a tall, thin, ex-army daddy who still irons his jeans like trousers -- aage se, the horror, the horror!

I'm going to go hit my head now. Thank you all for coming.

Perakath said...

Did you ever get him a SAK finally?


Nimpipi said...

Who SAK? Jog my memory. Flashlight don't ring no bells, yo.

Perakath said...

Swiss Army Knife. Engraved and all.

Nimpipi said...

Really? No! You and I didn't have this conversation. Did we? Because if we did and I can't remember, I just disgraced myself.

Perakath said...

I don't specifically remember it, so no disgrace to you. But I definitely would've suggested it (it's my standard gift suggestion, sad to say)!

There's a Victorinox showroom in D Block (I think); you could see if you like anything there. I think some even come with pen drives now!

Except I just realised I'm three days late to the post party! Next year, then.

Perakath said...

Actually better than that, if you could lay your hands on one, would be an Henri Cartier-Bresson print, perhaps? This one is my favourite: http://images.artnet.com/artwork_images_424158012_456647_henri-cartier-bresson.jpg

Doesn't look like much on a screen, but it's just fabulous in the flesh.

(I like giving gift suggestions!)

Nimpipi said...

I don't mind you giving suggestions. But why you didn't give earlier? Also, now deed is done. Golf club, it is -- A 9 wood, if you must know. Swiss knife, no, not even next year. So glad I is not a disgwace. :)

Anil P said...

A fair swing I must say. Nothing beats better than the sunshine to go with it. Fair call.

Inayat said...

You know, it's a lovely sunny march afternoon and I'm sitting right next to the window overlooking the park with kids at their karate lessons and there's this uncharacteristic breeze and I write away at my assignment and then as it often happens, one pauses, and I paused, and I thought - what haven't I done recently? Check the public interest issue ofcourse. And I can't describe the feeling to you of seeing three nice fat long posts to read and smile and comb my almost dry hair to.

Congratulations to the father yo, aap log badi literary khandan ho, two writers and ALL.

Nimpipi said...

Anil: heh, thank you kindly :)

Inayat: I don't know what is with YOUR reluctance to write. I'm flattered and all, as I always am when you comment but READ what you wrote, woman -- you're beautiful!

Although, if you're going to make a big deal about the, I will just ensure you get updates when I post okay! :D

Inayat said...

Ha, so I did reread that and turns out I can do assignment + stare out of window + comb hair.

Ninja much.

And I have discovered this ingenious thing called 'subscribe' three years too late, but nonetheless, none-the-less.

The Mystic said...

Well a crate of beer is a gr8 bday gift!