The mystery of the missing birthday gift

During a phone conversation with my dad, he mentioned that he and my mom had sent my wife a gift for her birthday. Did we get it?

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I got the mail yesterday and there was nothing from you guys … and nothing at the front door either.”

“Well, they said it should have arrived yesterday,” he said. (Note that “they” are my dad’s No. 1 news source. I don’t know who “they” are, but my dad trusts them even though their information is iffy. Last year my dad claimed that “they” had discovered that tilapia is not an actual fish, but a manufactured combination of fish parts, like a fish hot dog.) “You know how they are with those things.”

Indeed, even considering how little I know about “they,” I do know how they are with these things (liars). Anyway, that was how we ended our conversation, with me telling him that I’d get in touch to let them know when she got the gift, which I totally would have forgotten to do if given the chance. In fact, I completely blanked on asking my wife if she had somehow received my parents’ gift unbeknownst to me, although I did check the mail again and under our front mat that afternoon. Still nothing. It dawned on me that my dad did not provide any clues as to what the gift was, not particularly helpful when you’re looking for something more vaguely defined than “they.”

Things took a turn for the interesting when my mom called later that evening. My wife missed the call, but checked her voicemail as we finished reading the girls their bedtime story. My wife then turned to me with that all-too-familiar expression of frustration mixed with bewilderment and said, “WHAT the heck did you say to your dad?”

As usual, I had no clue how to respond, although in that moment, as my mind raced with the possibilities of what it could have been I’d done wrong this time, I was reminded of a conversation about a birthday gift.

Welp, turns out what I had said to my dad was that my wife had not received a birthday gift. Which was wrong, apparently, because the birthday gift had arrived the previous day. Wanna know why? Because the gift—I am still laughing even as I write this—was an e-gift card.

An e-gift card! Guys, an e-gift card.

My mom’s voicemail was the result of a totally unnecessary customer service call with the chic women’s fashion store Anthroplogie, during which they apologized for not sending the e-card—which they had—and sent it again, so my wife had a flurry of YOU’VE RECEIVED AN E-CARD emails when she finally had time to log on later that evening.

In trying to get to the bottom of what happened, my dad initially maintained he had told me the gift was an e-card—false—which turned into a promise he had mentioned “a card of some sort.” That is not my recollection—the zero clues I had to work with left me with the impression he had no idea what the gift was—and I remain curious as to how he must have processed my assertion that I had not seen a card sitting by our front door, or why one would have been there in the first place: “COULDN’T FIT THIS TINY CARD IN YOUR MAILBOX SO WE SHIPPED IT IN A REFRIGERATOR BOX. LOVE, THE POST OFFICE.” Whatever the case, only the communication flow in my family will leave you looking under your welcome mat for an email from Anthropologie.

In conclusion, my mom bought my wife a birthday gift, and everything would have been fine had two people COMPLETELY uninvolved not talked to one another. And while some may be quick to blame my dad and me for the unnecessary confusion, we must not forget the misdeeds of “they,” who pretty much started this whole mess. Man, they are the worst.


Note: This column appears in the 3/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/27 issue of the Peoria Times.