My wife’s family are nice people. They’ve kind of gotten used to me hanging around. It’s been over a quarter century, I guess you can eventually get used to anything.
My sister-in-law, DR, and her family always get me a gift at Christmas. It’s usually something practical and clearly well-intended, if not something I’d pick out for myself.
This year, DR’s seven-year-old twins are really excited about the present I’m getting this year. It’s a big box. It’s heavy. And they tell me I’m going to love it. They’re quite sure of this. I’ve had a few more Christmases than those two, so I’m not quite as excited. But they’ve gone into this frenzy of anticipation, so I let them help me rip the paper off.
It’s so heavy, I have to balance it while they attack the paper.
It’s a box of heavy brown cardboard. The edges are sealed with strapping tape. There’s a pretty serious thing in here. Probably metal, from the way it shifts.
The front of the box declares it to be… a tripod stand? Rated for a few hundred pounds?
The twins are thrilled. They’re too young to realize I’m not as excited. I’m kind of puzzled.
My wife asks “Is it what it says on the box?”
I look over at DR…
…and she’s staring at me in horror.
“I got it off your wish list,” DR says quietly.
I’m looking back at her. “Uh… I don’t have a wish list.”
“Of course you do!” And she shows me the Amazon wish list for Michael W Lucas.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Really, that’s not me.”
“But…” DR says, “I’ve… been buying your gifts off that wish list for years and years now.”
Restoring order takes a few minutes. The twins don’t understand why the adults are laughing so hard, but they’re happy to join in anyway.
Somewhere out in the world, there’s a Michael W Lucas. Every year right before Christmas, he gets a note from Amazon. “Hey, someone bought something for you off your wish list!”
And the something never arrives.
The poor bastard.
I’m just barely getting my breath back when she blurts out, “And I order your birthday presents from that list too. Have them shipped to your house.”
“But I haven’t had a birthday present from you in…”
Of course not.
Somewhere out in the world, there’s another Michael W Lucas. He has a pickup truck and likes Dean Koontz. I adore Koontz, and sold my pickup in 2007. He needs a few tools. I need a few tools. We’d both like an inversion table.
And every 2 February for the last, oh, ten years or so, he’s received a gift off his wish list. It has a note. “Happy Birthday! Love, DR and Family.”
He has no idea whatsoever who DR is. And there is no Amazon Thank You Note service for him to contact her back.
I sincerely hope that this Michael W Lucas has many many friends.
I hope that he’s not sitting alone in a basement apartment in a trailer park, despondently thinking “Nobody loves me. At least I have a secret admirer. Even if she doesn’t know my right birthday, at least she gives a crap.”
Because this year, 2 February will pass without him getting a gift. And he will never know why.
I know he’s not living in his truck. Because he wants an inversion table.
If you happen to know this other Michael W Lucas, please check on him this February. He might be quite despondent at the loss of his mysterious secret admirer.
The result of all this is that I finally made an Amazon wish list (since deleted). I spent a few hours auditing my Doctor Who DVD collection, added a few books I’ve been meaning to get for research, and topped it off with the Wile E Quixote T-shirt.
I sent the link to the list to DR. It seemed the right thing to do.
“Oh, no. I’ve learned my lesson. You’re getting gift cards from now on.”