A few years ago my partner, Abbie, received a weird birthday present. A friendly acquaintance met her on the street in Washington and handed her a fancy-looking gift bag and card. A few minutes later I got a text message: “Just bumped into M_________. Gave me a BD ‘gift.’ You’re not gonna believe it.” As it turns out, she was right.
Inside the bag, wrapped in brightly colored tissue paper, were the following four items: a (used) workout DVD; two women’s health magazines (which by the sweat-wrinkled cover and dog-eared pages had already seen the inside of a gym), and six pack of mini-cans of V-8 Vegetable Juice held together by those clear plastic rings you’re supposed to cut apart so dolphins don’t choke or something. One can of juice was missing; that’s right: a five pack.
I would add for context that the only adjective Abbie wants to see in front of the word DVD is “horror,” that the last time she set foot inside a gym was probably during college, and that (envious as I am of her ability to eat this way and still look great) her idea of “something delicious” is about as far from a V-8 as you can get, typically drawn from the apocryphal food groups: non-chocolate candy, ice cream, and strawberry shortcake.
Most of us probably have a story or two to tell about stuff we’ve received from the Pantheon of Oddball Gifts. Examples of thoughtful but sadly misguided gifts include:
So when we at insideARM.com came across this, we couldn’t help but reflect on it as a heartbreaking commentary on the state of the US healthcare system and the devolution of consumerism.
I only wonder if, contrary to normal good sense, one is supposed to cough on the gift card before putting in an envelope. Happy Birthday, Grandma.
Michael Klozotsky is the managing editor of insideARM.com. Even if you really like this post, please don’t send him a health care gift card. He can be reached by email.