Sunday, August 13, 2000
I grew up in a family of grasshoppers, my wife in a family of ants.
For festive occasions ï¿½ birthdays, gift-giving holidays ï¿½ I'd find gaily wrapped toys and books and model cars, a baseball glove, a football helmet. She must have been unwrapping blouses and shoes and sweaters, a comb, a desk lamp. She has come over somewhat to my point of view and I to hers. The handsome, colorful, woolen shirt brings me real pleasure on Christmas morning. And I have less need of football helmets these days.
But when our anniversary came 'round this summer, I drew the line at the promised garage door opener. Don't get me wrong. Mine has been broken for many months, and I haven't gotten around to replacing it. But a promise to have a new one installed when new garage doors are put in next week? What's worse, I received a garage door opener among my Christmas presents two years ago. For some reason, it didn't work and had to be returned. Did I get a Walkman instead? A Palm Pilot? Even a new pair of corduroy trousers? I did not. Oh, I received other presents but this one was presented and then disappeared ï¿½ no substitutes, no replacements.
Not until this anniversary when it has been resurrected as a brand-new present. "You can't give me a garage door opener as an anniversary present," I tell her. "This is my Christmas present from two years ago, and I am very grateful for it. I really am."
Then I recognize a telltale box she has just received in the mail from Amazon.com. "What's that?" I ask.
"The first Harry Potter book," she says. "I wanted to see what all the fuss was about."
"Now this," I say, stroking the attractive dust jacket, "is more like a present. Why don't you give me this for our anniversary?" Not for the first time, she is shaking her head in wonder at grasshopper logic.
"What difference does it make? You're getting the garage door opener, and you can read the book as well." But she has dealt with me for eons. So I do get to consider "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as my anniversary present, and I whip right through it in one day. Later, when I look it up at Amazon.com, I see it's aimed at the 9-12 age group so I am not as ready to brag about my reading speed as I first was.
When I see that Amazon has the next three Harry Potter books, including the one kids and parents were lining up at midnight for only a month or so ago, I do some rough calculations. These three plus the first one can be mine for less than $60 including postage, a more reasonable price for an anniversary gift from a loving wife to her husband. Never mind the garage door opener. That was two Christmases ago.
So the grasshopper clicks on these items at Amazon, and they land in his shopping cart. Another click and they are on their way to Lawrence. But to make it easier for the bemused ant, I explain to her that the books are really for our granddaughter. I'll just be reading them first, checking them out for suitability.
My wife, who would be perfectly happy giving me the garage door opener and the first Harry Potter book and all the Harry Potter books yet to be written, flashes me a pitying glance. "Our granddaughter," she says, "is 2 years old."
"Yes," I respond in my most ant-like tones. "You can never start saving too early."