When Nancy told me she was going to ask for designer sunglasses for her birthday, I thought she was crazy.
"Yeah, something designer - Like Gucci, or Fendi, Prada, or Chanel...Something like that," she said, wiping the sweat from her martini glass.
My eyes widened as I looked at her boyfriend, Alex, sympathetically. "Really?" I raised my eyebrows and shrugged my shoulders, as if to say Good luck. "Real ones? Why not just go to Canal Street in the City and get knockoffs?"
"Nah. I want the real ones." This from a woman who won't buy anything unless it's on sale.
Alex put his hands up and his mouth curled into a helpless grin. "She's the Countess." We all chuckled and sipped our cocktails.
When I went to their house yesterday, gift in hand, to wish Nancy a Happy Birthday, she greeted me in a new outfit.
"Happy birthday," I squealed, extending the card and cellophane-encased liquor I brought her.
"Thank you," her smile was audible as she returned my hug and accepted my gift.
"Nice pants," I said, nodding at her black capris.
"Thanks! Alex bought them for me." She took a step back from me, and looked down at her own pants, still smiling. "He totally spoiled me," she grinned. "Guess what else he got me!" With no intention of letting me offer guesses, she continued, "Fendi glasses!" Her eyes were wide, her whole body excited as she lifted the white-framed sunglasses from the case with FENDI emblazoned across the top. "It's just too much!" Her smile consumed her whole face, her pleasure genuine, her excitement pure.
I was shocked. I never expected him to shell out the crazy cash for plastic glasses. But that's because no one ever gave me designer glasses. But, then again, regardless of how badly I may have wanted a pair, I never asked for them.
She lifted the glasses and placed them gingerly on her face, her smile only growing bigger. She looked at Alex, seeking his approval, hoping the frames fit her face.
"They look great," he said. "I told you that already." He laughed and put his arms around her.
"I just can't believe it," she said again, carefully removing the glasses and putting them back in their case.
And I saw the difference between Nancy and me: She asked for what she wanted. I don't.
She's unashamed, not worried about being disappointed. Me, I drool over the ads in magazines for Chanel shades, imply that I want them, hoping the hints I've dropped are retrieved and held onto. Tightly.
In general, I don't ask for what I want. I expect the man in my life to just know. I don't want to ask for something, I want him to listen to context clues and figure it out. Part of it is that I know that if I don't get it, I can't be disappointed if I didn't ask for it. And if I do get it, I'll be surprised, and happy my man was paying attention.
Nancy, Alex and I left their house to celebrate her birthday. It was already 8:30 at night, but Nancy still tucked the Fendi case into her tiny purse. "I have to show them off," she said when she caught me watching her. I smiled in response.
I thought back to when she'd told me what she was asking for. I was so surprised that she was actually asking for something that expensive. In my last relationship, I was conditioned to not ask for too much. Asking for more than what he had decided he was willing to give equaled me being ungrateful for what he'd given me in the past.
And I don't mean designer sunglasses. I mean everything. I wanted him to love me more. I wanted him to marry me. I wanted to not feel like another stop on his daily errand run. I wanted to feel like I wasn't an obligation to him. I'd ask for it, and he'd leave me feeling like I'd just told him that nothing he did was good enough. So I stopped asking, and tried to lead by example. That didn't work, because he wasn't good at recognizing hints. And I didn't want to appear to be ungrateful, so I kept my mouth shut and hoped he'd figure it out sooner or later. He didn't.
I thought requesting love would be cheaper, more reasonable to give than a pair of $400.00 shades. I was wrong. He would've rather given me the sunglasses.