Point of no return
Some gifts really are a bother.
The gift of silence, for instance. It could be the absence of sound, or it could be the imposition of solitude depending on how you think about it and how much you want to share that thought aloud.
However we feel about earbuds, my daughter had left hers on the dining room table where the cat had found them, and toyed with them until they were dead.
Another mother may have scolded her daughter and told her to be more careful with her things. Made her dig into her piggy bank to fund the replacement.
I had, on the other hand, just picked up another pair on impulse at the checkout. Gift horse, meet mouth. Which, a few days later twists into a bow as she unplugs one ear and holds one of two tethered earbuds inches from my face.
“Listen to this,” she says with a hiss.
I don’t know what to expect as I take the offering tentatively. Not sure how close I should position the device next to my ear, how loud the volume will be, or what f lavor of music my daughter will introduce.
She listens to all kinds. Just like her brother ... And their father ... And, let’s face it, myself. Truth be told, I rarely find fault with the music she loves, though I’m not exactly keeping up with the times. My overall im- pression has been that the anthems of her youth are exponentially more upbeat than the anthems of mine. Though I can’t quite say that the bulk of her songs are sugar sweet. Especially when they try to harmonize with the songs that seep out from the dark, musky-smelling sweat- sock lair that is my son’s bedroom.
Of course, I don’t know for sure because I have enforced an ear-buds rule for dueling sound systems. The cacophony can be crazy making.
Which is what I’m gearing up for as I take a listen.
But what comes out of the earbud isn’t music at all. It’s the sound of metal scratching stone or static interrupting more static.
“Did the cat get them again!?”
“No ... that is just the sound one half of a $7 set of earphones makes three days after you buy them.”
In case you were wondering ... she didn’t say this with malice. She said it with the same exasperation I would have used had she bought them for herself. Knowing full and well that a $20 set may have fared no better.
Of course, I know that the part of her that is appreciative of the act of replacement would NEVER complain about the amount spent on said replacement. Nevertheless, that part of her statement connected to the part in me that tells me I am guilty of always trying to save a buck by throwing away six.
Because ... let’s face it, the likelihood of me returning the cheap and faulty earbuds diminishes by thirds with each passing moment, until the moment when I realize I’ve already disposed of the packaging, and then the likelihood of return evaporates altogether.
It’s not as if marketers don’t know the optimal price points for the point of no return.
It’s kind of why we should all be looking gift horses in the mouths.