Dr Tinman: Be a good friend who’s not to be relied on
Welcome to the ninth edition of Dr Tinman’s Ignorant Remedies for the Aching Soul. I am Dr Tinman, life-doctor and former submarine captain with a terrible secret. And now, without any delay - except, of course, the time it takes for these words to penetrate your eyeballs and enrich your feeble brain - we move onto this week’s question!
Dear Dr Tinman, I have a friend’s wedding coming up and she hasn’t set up one of those registry things. I have no idea what to get her! What should I do?
Dearest Gifted, How delightful that your friend has such trust in her friends! Unfortunately, that trust appears sorely misplaced.
I have no doubt that when the bride is finished tearing through her enormous pile of presents, she will be left standing with three $22 bottles of sparkling wine, a second-hand copy of Fifty Shades of Grey (courtesy of the obligatory weird uncle), a handful of $5 scratchies and one of those tiny, ceramic Buddhas people place in their gardens to pretend they have an interest in cultures in which Packed to the Rafters isn’t a thing.
Weddings are a wonderful time - joyous occasions filled with free food, beverages and horrendous fist-fights over minor disagreements. They are a chance for us to celebrate the love between two people, and for older relatives to loudly ask about the possibility of babies while people are trying to drink vodka out of various common household items.
Most importantly, however, they are a chance to pit one’s friends against each other in the crocodilian death-roll we call “gift-giving”. Who will spend the most? Who will be the most thoughtful? Who will do something “creative”, like draw a grid over a photo of the couple and then produce a larger version using watercolours because they thought they’d do something “a bit different”?
At my seventh wedding, I requested that all guests leave the price tags in their gifts. This made it much easier to rank them and cull them from my various social circles. After months of seriously breaching their privacy, rifling through their bank statements and evaluating their assets, I devised a formula that ranked their gifts (and, therefore, friendship) while taking their net worth and poverty levels into account.
Oddly, no one turned up to my eighth wedding - because it seems no one has any gratitude, these days.
Now, let’s assume your friend is using a similar formula. Indeed, her lack of a registry is the social equivalent of that scene in The Deer Hunter where Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro are forced to endlessly play Russian Roulette.
Your gift will dictate where you stand in relation to other potential friends. Spend too little, and you will be excluded from future events - condemning you to a life of spending time with people who don’t judge your friendship on the basis of the amount you spend on gifts.
Spend too much, however, and the person in question will consider you one of her best friends, making it socially acceptable for her to one day ask if she can borrow money from you or get you to babysit for “a few weeks”.
I would suggest getting a mid-range present, such as a household appliance that has a known defect and no extended warranty. Or perhaps you could purchase an “experience gift” - such as surfing lessons in Hawaii - that sounds generous, but would actually require them to spend thousands of dollars before they could enjoy it.
This will ensure you remain a “friend”, but not not to the point where you have to validate the relationship with any sort of meaningful action or thoughtful gesture.
Just remember, Gifted: It’s the thought that counts!
Hope that helps.
Kindest of warm regards,
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