I never really got the hang of how to be a good girl friend.
I’m not trying to make excuses, but what a lot of my girl friends don’t realize is that I’m actually a male in the guise of a woman and I have a very black and white approach to life. I don’t believe in stereotyping but I’ve had to learn the special female skills like how to do small talk without looking for the nearest escape route, how to feign interest in other people’s lives and children, even when those kids are fugly, how to hug people when I greet them and how to be intuitively thoughtful. I still fail miserably a lot of the time but there is some hope. The 50th birthday round has begun in my social group and one of my best friends celebrated this monstrous milestone last week. What the fuck do you buy for your best friend’s 50th birthday? The pressure felt immense. We’ve reached that age where we pretty much buy what we need, know what we like and don’t like and are intolerant of gifts that don’t quite hit the mark. I also knew that this time I had to get it right. I don’t think she ever went on that pole-dancing course… A more expensive piece of jewellery than the usual Witchery earrings was the obvious and easiest choice. It would have said what I needed it to say – that I recognized that this was a special birthday for her and that she is special to me (blah, blah, blah!). But the problem is that I have a serious overthinking problem when I shop. I’m a perfectionist and always have a particular design or colour in mind that is impossible to find unless you have the budget for a custom-made from Tiffany, and so I soon realised that the Holy Grail of jewellery that would suit my friend and the old man’s budget, just didn’t exist. I went back to the drawing board. I researched handbags, ‘experiences’ and beauty therapies, which I knew she’d love – being a real woman and all that – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I gave her a bag of goodies instead. But, special goodies. What I hoped was that my little bag of goodies would show some thought and appeal to our shared sense of humor, but best of all, give her more than one present to open! You see, we’ve been friends for an eternity.
Twenty years to be precise, since NC (was so small that she hadn’t even started organizing me yet) and her son were nine months old to be exact, so even though I might still be incapable of picking the perfect necklace for her, because we’ve grown up together, over many wonderfully boozy evenings (in the days when we still thought we could change the world together), we’ve managed to work out the best things in life. So that was my theme. I bought six gifts and numbered them as the things every woman needs in middle age. In no particular order, they were:
- Good wine, shared with friends who know which wine hits your spot – in our case, a bottle of Scarborough Chardonnay (www.scarboroughwine.com.au)
- Something to keep you feeling sexy – the bigger the better! – if it had been me I would have gone straight for the Agent Provocateur but my friend is a little more classy so I picked some Elle ‘The Body’ McPherson boy-leg lacy briefs
- A hobby – my friend plays tennis so I bought her some tennis balls
- Beautiful jewellery – a pair of modern silver and pearl earrings
- Loads of cheese – she’s a cheese guzzler, this mate of mine, especially with a few Chardies inside her and I found this super-cute triangular cheese board from Salt and Pepper (www.saltandpepper.com.au). We do cheese together really well.
- Family – my friend lives by the beach and I found two really cute snow-globe-style photo frames with sand and small shells at the bottom and I put a photo of her with each of her children in each.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to buy underwear for another woman – even one you think you know really well? I admit that the organization of this gift was so uncharacteristically thoughtful for me I might have
vommed cried a little as I wrapped up the pressies. She means a lot to me, this gal. But surely that much attention to detail means I’m becoming more girly…even… growing up? But before I finish, I must tell you about the last time I surprised this friend with a goodie bag. We were in our early thirties and I’m embarrassed to admit that I included a packet of Marlborough Lights in the bag back then. I’ll never forget that day because she was stuck at home on an uncharacteristically, stinky hot day in London with a baby with chicken pox, (that she had caught too), yet for some reason decided that a polka dot bikini would make an excellent fashion accessory. Since then I have laughed hard many times with her. The greatest gift she was given for her fiftieth birthday was a grandson, a few weeks before. How far we’ve come.