It was a set of pans.
Oh sure, they were Le Creuset pans, in my favourite shade of turquoise, which would look great in our kitchen. I’d coveted them for months, and the whole set wasn’t cheap, I knew that.
But they were pans. As a gift, they meant something. I recalled when he used to buy me wildly uncomfortable underwear, all red and black lace, or perfume, or one Christmas, a surprise weekend in Paris. They were gifts that said I was sexy, glamorous, spontaneous.
Pans meant he saw me as a cook, a domestic servant, even.
He looked at me expectantly. I fantasised about smashing the largest pan over his head, sending brains and blood spraying out behind him onto the wall, his eyes still vacant and hopeful.
‘Well?’ he said, ‘Are you pleased?’ He looked at me more closely. ‘They’re happy tears, right?’ I only nodded and started to cart the dead weight of the present into the kitchen, where they, and apparently I, belonged.
Later, I overheard him on the phone, trying to keep his voice low.
‘It was the worst Christmas present ever,’ he muttered, and in that moment my heart started to swell. So he knew! He’d realised he’d got it wrong. We’d laugh about this in years to come. I hopped from foot to foot, waiting for him to hang up so I could cover him in a hug.
‘I mean,’ he said, ‘Golf clubs. What was she thinking?’