From the way the right-wing blogs are reacting, you’d think the president gave the queen of England a Magic Wand, instead of an iPod and a rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers. Coming in the same week as Hillary’s “gaffe” — allegedly asking a Mexican priest “who painted” Juan Diego’s “miraculous” cloak, and that remains a one-source story, so buyer beware — and followed by his gift of DVDs to the British prime minister, well, you can just imagine. Rule of three, worstpresidentever, game over.
Yes, I’m sure HRH would have enjoyed a nice crystal bowl, or perhaps a gift basket from Hickory Farms.
Gift-giving is an art that not everyone does well. Take the Queen, for instance — her gift to the O’s was a framed photo of herself, her default gift for visiting dignitaries and, frankly, the sort of thing that makes an iPod look like a deed to one’s own private island. Diplomatic gift-giving is another breed of cat, as there are all sorts of nuances to consider. I agree the DVD set of classic American movies was pretty tacky in comparison to Gordon Brown’s gift to the president, an ornamental pen holder crafted from the timbers of a Victorian anti-slave ship. That’s a perfect diplomatic gift, acknowledging history and the relationship between nations, while being nothing more difficult to find room for in a home than an ornamental pen holder.
Obama needs a better gifting advisor, maybe. But I disagree that the iPod was off-the-charts awful. The key to great gift-giving is empathy, asking yourself, “If I were this person, what would I like to have?” Put yourself in the Queen’s shoes, your daily life a damp ordeal of Duty, Protocol and accepting bouquets from schoolchildren. Maybe you’d like a nifty gadget that would allow you to pop in those earbuds and escape from it all for a while, a symbol of American ingenuity, rather than a tapestry or one more proper token of national esteem. Maybe you wouldn’t. But at some point everything gets logged and shoved in a closet somewhere, so what’s the dif?
Ronald Reagan was a horseman, and over the course of his presidency someone was always handing him the halter rope leading to a magnificent steed. One, I think, actually made it to the ranch in California. Now there’s a gift.
The queen should have given the Obamas a Corgi puppy from her own kennels. Failing that, maybe she deserves an iPod.
Over the years, LAMary has entertained us with many tales of her ex’s lousy gift-giving, but I’m calling on the rest of you: What’s the worst gift you’ve ever given or gotten? Herpes, a praise-music CD, a signed copy of a book by an author you hate? I cannot participate. My husband gives the best gifts ever. He remembers an offhand remark I made in July and it finds its way under my Christmas tree in December. A marvel of thoughtfulness I do not deserve. Oh, wait, there’s probably one, during a bad breakup when a boyfriend said, “Let’s go shopping and buy you something expensive.” Unspoken: So I can then be shut of this relationship guilt-free. I refused to go.
I tried to make time to read this story all day yesterday, and failed, so you take a stab at it. Once before I die, I’d like to attend a full production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, which is why it caught my eye. I didn’t realize Wagner has a cast of hangers-on not unlike the Grateful Dead, or Phish. Now I do.
Short shrift today, I know, but that’s why I depend on you guys. Maybe something later. Ciao.