Today on the phone.
David: I bought you a present!
D: I paid too much for it, which you’ll hate, but it’s really awesome and you’ll like it.
A few hours later…
D: Your present arrives in two days!
Me: Am I going to think it’s useful?
Me: You said I’d be mad that you paid too much. That means it’s probably $100-$150 and you should have paid $75 or less.
D: Wow, you’re good.
Twenty questions ensues, not because I like to spoil surprises but because sometimes his surprises aren’t exactly what everyone wanted and I feel terrible about wasting money. Usually it’s something he wants and thinks you should have and he finds a way to tie it into something you did say you wanted. For example, after I bought him a big TV he bought me an HD TiVo that is 98% filled with his programs now, and then he bought me a huge hard drive to upgrade that TiVo to store more stuff, but it was commandeered for another project altogether. I also figured out tonight that our cable/TiVo bill is about 20% of the monthly mortgage so my financial heart was breaking before we discussed the surprise.
The things the present is not: sod, windows, rain barrel, sump pump, refrigerator or freezer (there’s another story there), compost bin, kitchen cabinet doors, basement bathroom sink, key fobs to set house alarm remotely, dog poop scoop service. I discovered it was utilitarian and for outdoors. I figured out it was a hose reel.
D: A bronze hose reel with brass connectors!
Me: Where does it go?
D: On the side of the house, so you can take the hose to water flowers in the front or back yard.
Me: Isn’t someone going to steal it? (Someone stole our aluminum downspouts off the garage.) You’re going to use it to water tomatoes in the back yard too?
Here’s what we had talked about last week: the tomatoes get planted next to a spigot in the backyard and I expressed a wish to not leave that hose lying in the yard where it kills the grass and makes it hard to mow, not to mention the dog poop usually in the area getting on the hose. I said I was going to bring my giant hose hook thing from my old house to this spot. Also note there is a key-locked gate between the backyard w/tomatoes and the side of the house where the fancy new hose reel goes.
D: No, I’ll just use the hose that’s back there.
Me: Could this hose reel go back there instead?
D: No, it’s a parallel feed, and we would need to get the perpendicular model for the backyard hose.
After as careful a letdown as I could manage–I mean he was excited to buy me a hose reel, and everyone knows I LOVE utilitarian gifts when they are the right gifts–I explained I’ve never used a hose at the side of the house. I fill the watering can directly from the spigot. And once I get a rain barrel, which I tried to buy this week, I will fill the watering can from that.
Me: But I really want a good watering can!
This is true. I spent half of last summer searching for a new watering can. My old sturdy plastic one is cracked and leaks through the duct tape holding it together. I never found a can I liked and most online cans were too expensive, so I didn’t buy one. I resorted to using five-gallon buckets to water flowers last fall.
Result: David tried to change the order to the perpendicular hose reel so he could enjoy the acquisition by the tomatoes. We tried to find me a watering can online, which he was going to buy for me instead, but I ended up buying it and he says he’ll get dinner or something. The watering can was $24.95 (pretty good considering many pretty ones were $75 but this one was almost perfect from a functional standpoint), but the stupid company charges $9.90 for “Handling and home delivery” which is B.S. 40% of the order for shipping!?! I almost didn’t buy it (and this might be why I didn’t buy it last year), but I found an online code for $6 off with a $25 order. Of course my order was five cents short to qualify. So I bought a 10 pack of biodegradable leaf bags on sale, and in the end the shipping was the same and I spent more than if I’d just bought the stupid can. But I have been looking for a more environmentally friendly way to store recyclables like odd plastics that have to go to a special facility and this seemed like a solution.
See how that worked? He still spent over $100 on a hose reel and I spent almost forty bucks on a watering can and a filler item. And I still don’t have a rain barrel, but I do have a homeless hose hook.
Now for the old freezer he brought home from his mom’s tonight that he wants to put in the basement, where we have no space and it will make the electric bill go up… This in response to my already agreeing to purchase a new Energy Star fridge but he has to remodel the pantry area first so it will fit. The new fridge is supposed to solve the small-freezer problem we currently have. If that old freezer goes in the basement, I fear it will never leave.