The answer: MY BIRTHDAY.
It’s officially a week before my birthday, which, in addition to premature wrinkling from years of over-emoting, means I’ve already been gifted with a few items to soften my transition into the mid-20s.
The first gift was from my sister Joanna, who is the one person other than my parents to never forget my birthday. She’s one minute older than I am, so clearly she’s the responsible one.
So far I’ve gotten zero compliments on it, because NOBODY UNDERSTANDS FASHION, APPARENTLY. Including Joanna, who was happy to gift me with the sweater, but did so while severely judging my taste.
I’ve also received my gift from Jonathan, who I’m guessing ordered it several weeks early out of fear that his internet access would be spotty in the next month (good call, Jonathan). And maybe also because I gave him his birthday gift (a Kindle Fire, because I’m the best) about a month and a half early, and I made him open it immediately after we got from the airport to my apartment, roughly around midnight, when a better gift would have been for me to just let him go to sleep.
A great quality about Jonathan is that he’s proven himself a fantastic gift-giver (over the years, to name a few, he’s gifted me ballet tickets, a fake Oscar statue to prepare me for when I win my real one, and an actual Hogwarts letter plaque with my name on it, signed by Minerva McGonagall, that arrived on my 24th birthday—which I guess means it had just been stuck in the mail since my 11th birthday, because owls are irresponsible). He even set up our engagement through a brilliant series of Hanukkah gifts, which is a story that warrants its own post, so I’ll tell it another time.
And although most of those gifts he came up with on his own, for others he’s had guidance. The first time I mentioned my obsession with Pinterest, what I didn’t mention about Jonathan’s distaste for the website is that there’s a real silver lining for him: It’s a categorized list of all the things I want, and then links for where he can find those things online. My Pinterest account gives him the gift of never finding out what happens when a husband buys his wife a blender for their anniversary. Although, honestly, a blender would have been fine right now since I’m having such a hard time choosing one.
This birthday is a milestone for us, because it’s the first time he’s gotten me a gift he didn’t somehow ruin the surprise of before it arrived. (For instance, a week before my birthday one year, he asked me if I had all seven Harry Potter books in hardcover. When I told him no, only paperback, he responded with “I just ordered your birthday gift.” I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t a blender.)
So this year he came straight out and told me he’d found my gift on my Pinterest, which means I spent the whole rest of that day scouring all the pins I’d saved on relevant pinboards to try to figure out what it could be. Cue scenes like “Oh man, I hope he got me this ridiculous peacock watch!!!!” and “OH MY GOD HE GOT ME THE EAGLE HAT.” Which I was able to then immediately rule out, because there’s only one eagle hat for sale, and the website said it was still available. (Seriously, somebody get me that hat before it’s gone.)
A few days before the gift arrived, I received an email from a website I’d never heard of called Wayfair, that informed me a super special secret gift was on its way. Wayfair, I discovered, is a home goods store, and they’d allowed Jonathan to write a message to me in the surprise gift email, and here’s the key excerpt from that message:
“I hope you know how much it hurts me to get you certain things on your Pinterest, but I cannot change what you want.”
So for about a day I was convinced he’d gotten me the pink KitchenAid he told me was too ridiculous to have in a real adult kitchen, because he decided I’m worth the decline in both his maturity and his masculinity. But then I realized that I’ve based all my kitchen registry items on the silver KitchenAid I’m registered for, and getting the pink one would mean I’d have to start all over with my kitchen color scheme, and I didn’t think Jonathan would do that to me. Then I tried to make Jacki go through the whole website to figure out what the gift was, because if I did that it would make me a total bitch for ruining Jonathan’s surprise, but nothing was stopping Jacki. (If she did figure it out, I guess she decided to side with Jonathan on the surprise thing.)
When the gigantic box showed up at my door, I saw the “American Flyer” label and immediately flipped out, because I realized he’d gotten me the giraffe-print suitcase that I not only really wanted for clear animal-print-loving purposes, but for practical ones too; I specifically remember saving it on Pinterest with the intent to buy it before my next move, because neither Jonathan nor I have a real collection of usable luggage, and our future is sure to include countless moves. I tore open the box because apparently I’m still 11, and was not disappointed.
The disappointment came immediately afterward, when I lifted the suitcase and it was heavy as shit. American Flyer has been in the luggage business for a long time, and it didn’t make sense that they would still be in business if they made giraffe-print suitcases that the average white female can’t easily lift. I logged into my Pinterest account partially to see if other customers had made comments about the suitcase’s weight, and partially to find out how much money Jonathan had spent on it, because luggage is expensive, and the more money he spends now, the less money I’ll be able to convince him to give me for a French mani/pedi before the wedding. Priorities.
I found the pin, which linked me to the website, and reminded me that I’d originally been interested in the luggage not only for the print, but because it was a five-piece set at a really good price. I looked around to find where he could have ordered just the one suitcase separately, but it didn’t seem to exist. There were a few comments on the luggage set’s online listing, but none of them mentioned the cumbersome weight; they mostly had to do with zippers being broken when the product arrived. So I went to test out my zipper, at which point I realized the four other suitcases were all packed inside the one big suitcase and then inside each other, and they opened up like a Russian doll set filled WITH MORE AND MORE GIRAFFE PRINT.
Giraffe suitcases are the gift that keeps on giving. Especially because, when he bought these, I’m pretty sure Jonathan wasn’t thinking about his future. Which now includes all the pictures I’ll take of him when he’s forced to go through airports carrying the only non-army luggage he now owns.
P.S. I’m sorry I relied on that zebra print rug for the riddle in this post’s title to make sense, when technically I’ve had it for a few years and it wasn’t a birthday gift. I just wanted to be as equal opportunity as I could be to jungle animals. That having been said, here’s an elephant.