Other recent friendship attempts ("Reaching Out," as Doris terms it. She REACHES OUT to me ALL THE TIME) include sending a Christmas card. I don't send them one, but that's because they are Primo's parents, not mine. He is in charge of their birthdays and Mother's Day and Father's Day and their Christmas; I am in charge of these events for my own mother.
Marriage does not automatically confer responsibility for card and gift giving on the wife. They are still his parents. In Primo's defense, he has never asked me to take care of these things, although I was not pleased that we had to leave 30 minutes early for a play last month so we could go by the post office to drop off Doris' birthday card so it would get to her in time.
"Did you not know your mom's birthday was December 10th this year?" I asked him. "Did they change the date from its usual December 14th?"
Another Reaching Out was the request that I return to Doris her mother's wedding ring, which Doris gave to me when we got married. I actually don't mind sending the ring back so Doris can give it to Primo's niece (who is named in my will as the recipient of the ring), because I don't like wearing rings and it just sits in my jewelry box. I do mind that Doris asked that a gift be returned to her.
I mailed the ring last week. As my own Reaching Out. Doris sent an email to Primo yesterday telling him that she had received the ring and for him to tell me thank you.
Even Primo thought that was lame. "After you go through all that trouble to send it, she couldn't write an email to you?" he asked.
After New Year's, she sent some used placemats back with Primo. Told him we could give them to Goodwill if we didn't want them. As Doris and I do not share the same taste (see how gracious I am being? "we do not share the same taste" is a nice way to say that my house will never be filled with plaster, ceramic, bronze and iron pigs), the placemats will go to Goodwill after they have sat in a drawer for a suitable amount of time. I did not write a thank-you note.
The most recent Reaching Out was when Doris mailed me from her book collection a novel I had already read, a 30-year-old guide to opals, a gardening book, and three mail-order gardening catalogues.
Just used books. And mail-order catalogues.
I took the books to the library, tossed the catalogues, and debated what to write in my thank-you note because of course I have to write a thank-you note or else I am an ingrate.
First decision: paper or email? I prefer paper with Doris because it doesn't give her a chance to respond. If I email her something, she will answer and if I don't answer her answer, or even if I do answer her answer but my answer isn't long enough, then I am Rejecting Her Reaching Out and then I am stuck in an infinite loop.
But I guess I can exchange a few emails with her if it will make Primo's life easier. I guess.
I write her an email telling her that I had read the book for book club and had really liked it. I toss in the conversation-starting comment that the guy who always find something not to like didn't like the book because he thought the writer was too hard on the Germans.
It was a World War II novel. About the occupied Channel Islands. Written from the English perspective.
The Germans are not the heroes here.
I mention a few other books we have read in book club. Point out the cranky guy's response to those books, one of which was a memoir by a man who escaped from China. (We are being too harsh on Mao and the Cultural Revolution! Who are we to judge? a comment that got Lynn, the second-most liberal person in the group to snap that in this country, people are not shot or starved or tortured for their political beliefs.)
An email to inspire conversation, right?
No answer. None.
So now do I get to complain that I have Reached Out and Doris is Rejecting Me?