“What do you want for your birthday?”
“Oh, nothing… honestly don’t spend money on me.”
“I’ve decided what I’m going to get you for your birthday.”
“No, no, no, you mustn’t get me anything.”
But the problem is that I adore getting presents. They are my favourite thing. They make me feel excited and special and front-of-mind but I don’t think I’ve been given a birthday present for about three years. Because, in repeated acts of self-loathing, I am busy telling everyone that I don’t want presents.
True, I would rather not deal with comedy dust-gatherers. Really what I actively want are the things I can’t afford to buy myself but hell will freeze over before I commission a grim clubbing-together scenario. Equally I realise there are lovely things out there that I simple do not know about but would find useful or diverting.
But really it’s about the spotlight that a present suggests. The bit that says: you are in my heart for a moment. Part of me knows I have earned that place in the hearts that orbit. Another part doesn’t quite believe it.
So this year I am having a party and I want presents. I am tempted to put that on the invitation. Even so. When someone asked me yesterday what I wanted for my birthday I said, “Just a kiss.” Pathetic. I want cashmere and great books and an at-home massage and some great cushions and new knickers and some personalised stuff because that never gets old and a new bottle opener. And a kiss too.