Here is a conversation I had with my husband, recently. And you know what? I feel for the guy. I really do. He works so hard. And it can’t be easy. I’m not….well, I’m not the easiest person to be married to. I fully accept this. And I get it that he wants to give me thing, and holy smokes do I appreciate it. But honestly? I feel like I’m past the point in my life when holiday gifts make much sense. I have too much stuff. And the things that would actually make my life easier? Well, they’re a little out of reach, at present. Because all of our available funds are tied up in the kids and the house. But mostly the kids. So I told him that I really didn’t want anything in lieu of holiday gifts.
He did not accept this. At all.
HIM: We have to figure out what you’re getting.
ME: I don’t want anything. Seriously.
HIM: Seriously, nothing. What do you want for Christmas? Like wanting things.
ME: I’m not even going to tell you because it’s too expensive.
HIM: I don’t care. I just want to know what it is.
ME: Just get me socks or a subscription to One Story or something.
HIM: OH MY GOD YOU ARE THE WORST.
ME: It’s dumb. What I want is the dumbest ever. But I still want it. But I want not to want it so I’m not telling you.
HIM: COME ON!
ME: FINE. What I really want, more than anything else, is a Roomba.
HIM: No way.
ME: It’s true.
ME: I know.
HIM: You mean the thing that scoots around and pretends to clean.
ME: It doesn’t pretend. It cleans. Not very well, I’ll grant you, but probably better than I’m doing right now. So. Yeah. That’s what I want.
HIM: You’re kidding, right?
ME: Alas, no.
HIM: You’ve got all of Western Civilization before you, with its centuries of perfecting the machine of the marketplace. We’ve got the art of making and marketing and buying and selling to a science so exquisite it deserves its own University system …. and on this, the season in which we slaughter yearling calves on our altars erected in temples dedicated to the gods of consumerism ….. and you want a vacuum cleaner?
(Author’s note: I might be elaborating here. I can’t quite remember)
HIM: And you don’t mind that it’s, like, housewifey and stuff.
ME: I don’t care. I want it. I want something to clean instead of me cleaning. I want ONE THING IN THIS HOUSE that does whatever I ask it to, because god knows the kids are hopeless with their books and their independent thinkings. I want something to devour the dog hair and attack the piles of sand that inexplicably appear on the living room floor. I want something to suck the dust away while I’m writing. I also want self-cleaning laundry and a macrobiotic chef and electric slippers. But mostly I want a robot. A best friend robot. A cheerful, always wants to help robot. A hard-working robot servant/family member/mostly a servant to clean my floors and look silly carrying unlikely objects across the floor like martinis and doughnuts and do what I ask and I shall name him Algernon. But I shall call him Ernest.
HIM: That’s a compelling argument.
ME: I know, right?
HIM: Hmmm. Well. How much are they?
ME: Like four hundred bucks.
HIM: So. Socks, then?
Which is fine. I made sure to send him a picture of these: