I discovered your column a few months ago and have been enjoying the letters people send to you - past and current - never thinking I would ever feel the need to write to you, until I saw your response regarding giving the gift of jewelry to a woman. I saw my own problem reflected in that letter, but with an added twist.
I met "Victoria" on Christmas Eve, at a party at a friend's house. She was actually a friend of a friend of the host, joking that she was "crashing the party" because she didn't want to sit home alone on Christmas Eve. At first, I was charmed by her adventurous spirit; going out to a party on Christmas Eve where she knew virtually no one. We spent the evening talking, and before I left we exchanged phone numbers. I was pleasantly surprised when Victoria called me the next day to wish me a Merry Christmas, and to ask if it was too late to ask me out for New Year's Eve. Never having had a woman initiate a date before, I was flattered and accepted her offer.
When we got together for New Year's Eve, Victoria told me that she was disappointed that I did not bring her a "belated Christmas gift". I thought she was joking, and laughed it off when she told me I could make it up to her for Valentine's Day. We had a great night out, and started seeing each other on the weekends and occasionally during the week. For Valentine's Day, I brought Victoria flowers, a box of Godiva chocolates, and took her to a local jazz club for a light dinner and dancing. I thought we had a great night, but Victoria was playfully pouty because I didn't buy her jewelry. Like you, I feel that six weeks is far too soon to be buying a woman such an intimate gift. Victoria then joked (or so I thought) that I could make it up to her for St. Patrick's Day, since her birthstone is the emerald.
St. Patrick's Day just passed, and Victoria and I went out for a night on the town. I took her to an upscale Irish pub where we had dinner and several pints of Guinness and what I thought was a great time. The next day, though, Victoria emailed me to say she was disappointed that I had not taken the hint that she wanted an emerald! Attached to the email was a picture of a very expensive emerald ring, linking to the website where it could be purchased with the comment that it was "on clearance" and would not last long [Ed. Note: The letter writer enclosed the link. You can view the ring by clicking here].
Tazi, I was positively floored by Victoria's request, and had no idea how to respond so I told her I would have to think about it, just to buy myself some time. On the one hand, I have never met anyone like Victoria - she is a fun, free-spirited woman who makes me want to grab opportunity and squeeze every last drop out of it. On the other hand, she seems to have an absolute obsession with receiving (but not giving) gifts. When I mentioned to her that I have yet to receive any sort of gift from her, Victoria responded that the gift of her time and the wonderful mood she puts me in is what she has offered me; and she honestly seemed offended that I did not consider these "gifts" to be of equal value to the emerald ring she wants me to buy her. Is her reasoning logical? Because at times I feel a little guilty for not purchasing her the one thing she desires; but on the other hand, when I start to feel this way, I want to slap some sense into myself. Thoughts?
Dear Empty Hands:
Let me guess: Victoria suggested that you put the ring in the Easter basket full of goodies that you also were not planning on buying her, right? I have a name for people like Victoria, one I heard on that old TV show Just Shoot Me, and that name is a gift piggy! I realize from what you have written that you are quite taken with Victoria, but please remember that this woman started asking you for presents on your very first date! She then spent the first two months of your relationship trying to guilt you into buying her expensive jewelry, and it sounds like the guilt trip you are on has reached its final destination.
If I were you, I would sit down with Victoria, and explain to her that a gift of jewelry - especially an expensive ring - is a public sign of a deep, serious, and powerful commitment. At least, that is what the Josten's salespeople said when they were attempting to sell my Mommie a college ring. I would like to think that the same reasoning applies when a person is considering buying an expensive ring for another - that is it an outward symbol of the committed, loving relationship that binds the two of them. If Victoria cares for you more than she cares for expensive jewelry, she will understand this and accept that you are not ready to purchase her the bauble she wants and will hopefully stop "joking" about her disappointment. If she cares more for jewelry than she does for you, I am afraid this conversation will spell the end of your relationship. If that is not something you can accept, then buy Victoria the emerald ring; knowing that she is with you not for your love, but for your willingness to buy her presents in return for her presence.
P.S. My Mommie's birthstone is also the emerald! She is currently staring at the picture of the ring and saying "My preciousssssss" in a decidedly Gollum-like voice! --T.K.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.