A Very Prufrock Christmas

December 20, 2010


scuttle, scuttle, scuttle

I am not, by nature, an organized person.  I tell my students this on the first day.  Because of this, I have a strict system for keeping track of their papers.  It involves a virtual Rube Goldberg device-like system of baskets and trays. I recognize this weakness in myself, and have compensated in a way that works.

I am also, by nature, not a great gift-giver.  It is a labor for me to get beyond the obvious, and sometimes to get even to the obvious.  Many times in my dark past I’ve used as a barometer for gift-giving quality, “Well, I’d love to get this is a present,” a statement that sends a mysterious, cold shiver quickly over the to-be recipient.  I’ve attempting to compensate for this in several ways.  I’ve tried to make lists of things people mention they’d like.  This has failed because it turns out that I am in addition, by nature, bad at making long-term lists for myself.

You can see my problem.

The kicker, of course, is that I wind up in this Prufrockian dilemma (What?  Prufrockian.  It’s a perfectly cromulent word.):  I want to know in advance if the gift I’m thinking about purchasing will be liked.  Even if it were possible, this negates the very essence of gift giving – of finding something that fits that person, that would be something he or she would enjoy receiving, perhaps something she wouldn’t buy for herself, or never even realized she wanted.  So instead, I stare, paralyzed, trying to figure out what to get – Do I dare? and Do I dare?

And in the shops the salesclerks cash and ring, asking if I need anything.

I think I’ve gotten better at it over the years.  M is exceptional at gift giving.  She has a knack.  It really ticks me off.  It definitely forces me to bring my A-game every time though, which is ultimately good, I suppose.   But every Christmas I go through this same turmoil in my head, steeped in indecision – Oh, she will say, That is not it at all.  That is not what I wanted at all.  So, how should I presume?

Sometimes it works out great; there’ve been some home runs, to be sure.  And I think she knows I give it my best.  Hopefully that’s something.

I think my ornament for the year should be a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floor of silent seas.

That’s festive, right?

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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One Comment on “A Very Prufrock Christmas”

  1. theteachingwhore Says:

    Do you dare to eat a peach? I have not begun rolling my trousers yet, but I imagine Prufrock is also in my future. In the room, the Santas come and go, spreading the vapid ‘Ho Ho Ho.’ I liked your post!


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