Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Give It To Me, Baby
I was about 4 or 5 when I started giving Christmas gifts. I didn’t quite get the concept at first—nor did I have any money of my own—so I vaguely remember searching around my bedroom and picking out my own possessions to give to family members. To my sister Pat I presented my prize pig—a glass piggy bank filled with all my money, all 62 or whatever cents of it. Imagine my surprise when she wouldn’t let me have it back a few days later!
Me, eyeing “my” pig on her bureau: “That’s mine!”
Her: “Nuh uh. You gave it to me as a present. That means it’s mine now.”
And thus began my education in giving. Rule number one: You can’t take it back. Even if they don’t like it. Even if they never use it. Even if they give it to someone else. Not that Pat gave away the pig or anything, but still.
I’m also still learning to give someone what they want, not what you think they want. Like, honestly, do you think Bing really was hoping this blue hat would be under the tree?
OK, that’s not really a crocheted cat hat he’s wearing. It’s a catnip toy that I put on his head in order to take an exploitive photo. My point is…we spend a lot of money buying our pets stuff that they don’t want. But how many times have I given someone the human equivalent of a cat Dracula costume? (I’m sorry, Binger...it was on sale.)
I’m thinking there’s a giving muscle, and you’ve gotta use it or lose it. I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past 2 months or so, but my giving muscle has gotten all flabby. Maybe it’s just being so busy and anxious and not realizing oh, yeah, there are other people in this mess with me. And when I mean “give,” I’m not talking Christmas presents. I’m talking about a giving spirit…like not freaking out just because someone didn’t say “thank you” when I held the elevator door as they got their mail, or crossing the street to avoid running into a neighbor. (That would require me to say hello and have a conversation…and I actually felt I couldn’t swing it!)
I hate living in the world this way. ‘Cause it’s not like the universe is a selfish tight-a$$. No way, there’s just so much for the taking. Like I was walking to the bus the other day thinking about this whole giving thing, and for some reason remembered the assistant in the hair salon I used to go to telling me that whenever she felt bad, she’d just look up at the sky—and it always made her feel better. And as corny as it may sound, I did—and it stopped me in my tracks.
The sky in winter, OMG. Clouds, long and pale pink-peach, like sleepy fishes seen silent beneath a sheet of ice, all crinkle-crackle thin. Kind of saying, “Hey, it’s the time of the year to chill the eff out—I am.”
Anyway, because I borrowed the title for this post from Rick James, I wanted to give back to the great King of Punk Funk by sharing one of his best songs. Whatever you wanna say about him, he’s freaking giving it up for the audience. Especially at and around 2:39.