Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Knee Socks and Bedazzlers

Mom bought some new paver blocks to set next to the house under the trash bin, recycle bin, and hose reel. The previous blocks were decades old and had cracked, chipped and deteriorated. It was time for an upgrade. After the cruddy old pavers were swapped out for the new ones, Mom sat down on the screened porch and said, “Now I’m happy.”

I was in the kitchen doing something or other, and yelled out to the porch, “Wow. You’re easy to please. Who knew?” I was, of course, trying to be funny.

Mom said she was always easy to please. As evidence, she added that all she wanted every year for Christmas as an adult was knee socks.

Wait. What? Knee socks?

Not jewelry, new cars, or fancy leather jackets? Not the latest kitchen gadgets?

Nope. Turns out that Mom, when asked what she wanted for Christmas, had specifically requested knee socks. For years. And she never got them. She told me she didn’t want to spend money on them, but she wanted them. So year after year she asked. And year after year, she continued to want for knee socks.

My best guess at this tardy date is that we thought she was kidding. It’s a problem in our family. We kid around a lot, which makes it hard to decipher sometimes when one of us is actually being serious. Maybe it’s like when I respond with “plaid,” when asked my favorite color, because I don’t have a singular favorite color. I like most all the colors, and it really depends upon the context -- clothing? Automobile? Hair? House paint? Perhaps we assumed she was adding a face-saving, low cost option in case we were broke. Maybe we were just dense. I dunno. It was a long time ago.

I’m guessing that we probably deemed it a “stupid gift” and went searching for something more expensive, more impressive, more worthy of wrapping paper and presentation at such a major gift giving holiday. I hate to think that all three of her children would willfully deny Mom the simple pleasure of knee socks. So she suffered through the years, graciously accepting the parade of gifts that may or may not have been of particular interest to her. And all she really wanted were some damned knee socks, that she wasn’t going to buy for herself. (Did I mention we are also stubborn?)

I understand now what she meant, if not back then. I also had a coveted item making annual appearances on my extensive and detailed Christmas lists drafted and distributed at Thanksgiving in the 1980s and 90s for the convenience of my gift-giving family.

My desired (and unfulfilled) gift was the “as-seen on TV” fashion staple, The BeDazzler. For years I dutifully added the “only $19.95 plus shipping and handling” item to my list. Each time I was confident that this would be the year I would debut my newly bedazzled with metal and rhinestones clothing on New Year’s Eve. Each year I was disappointed.

I received many, many fine and wonderful gifts over the decades, including expensive gold and silver jewelry ablaze with real gemstones. Beautiful clothing. Home decor items. Money, which I suppose I could have used to by my own stupid glitz-applying tool. But never The BeDazzler.

Although the details surrounding my unfulfilled want are a bit fuzzy, it’s possible I wanted The BeDazzler as a gift so that when my friends made fun of my glittering, bedazzled attire, (and it was pretty much guaranteed they would), I could honestly and blamelessly say, “It was a gift,” as if that would shift the potentially questionable nature of my fashion sense a few degrees away from gaudy and slightly more towards mainstream acceptable.

Maybe everyone thought I was kidding, or adding some ridiculous, red herring item to increase the odds of a “better” gift. Maybe it was perceived as my low-cost alternative, akin to how we viewed Mom’s knee socks. 

In any gift-giving event, Mom has still not received her knee socks. And I’m still waiting for my BeDazzler. Maybe this year. Hint, hint.

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