This morning’s paper ran a Dear Abby column that set me off. The writer was attending some kind of celebration, and had gone in with a friend to purchase a gift for the honoree. Friend, it appears, recycled some very up-scale wrapping paper for this gift. Honoree was upset when the gift was not of the same quality as the wrapping paper. Dear Abby’s comment was that Honoree must have been poorly brought up, and that such displays of disappointment are something one learns to hide by the second grade. My thought: what a shallow group of people!
Where this leads: years ago, a friend of mine (very, very image-conscious) was getting married. Since she was a dear friend, and since I was living in Ireland at the time, I stopped at the Waterford Crystal plant and had a gift shipped from there. Knew it would ring the right notes – pun intended – even though I could have picked up the identical item at the local ritzy department store and saved the international shipping charges. But hey … (gift took pride of place in display, by the way!)
Further down the road: I was, at that time, living in the heart of conspicuous consumption, Los Angeles. One of my very best friends lived on a very large cattle ranch in the Rockies, and was marrying the rancher. The wedding was going to be jeans – ranch-house. Very casual even by ranch standards. Since both of the couple had been married before, they didn’t really need much in the way of gifts, and made that clear to all friends.
While on a day’s stroll with a friend down Melrose Avenue (this was, at the time, the height of Hollywood funk shopping) mostly people-watching, we saw in the window of one shop a pair of over-the-elbow long gloves. They were cotton knit, and the print looked like Carmen Miranda met Jimmy Buffett in a blender. The word ghastly wasn’t adequate to describe them. And they were CHEAP (I guess the shop wanted to get rid of them.)
Having made our purchase, my buddy and I were seized with an inspiration. We trotted over to Rodeo Drive, to the Gucci store. Fortunately, it was way too early for the rich people to be out and about, and they were not busy. We lucked into a salesman with a warped sense of humor as we explained the situation. For a very small consideration (all things considered), he nestled these appalling gloves in Gucci tissue in a Gucci glove box, and shipped them from Gucci to the ranch with a card reading “because every bride needs a long pair of gloves”.
According to my spies, the bride-to-be was horrified when the box arrived – from Gucci. She was frantic that I hadn’t gotten the message about “ranch-house, jeans” wedding. Until she opened the box. She wore the gloves to the ceremony. It remains one of the best rigs I’ve ever run.