When my husband turned 35, I thought it was my job as a good dutiful wife to throw him one hell of a party. I carefully planned it for 6 months.
I used my (at that time) barely existent Photoshop skills to create a Warhol-like invitation using a baby picture of his.
I carefully plotted with his friends behind his back, asking them to fill in the gaps for contact information for friends of his with whom I was not in contact.
I scrimped and saved and fibbed and finagled.
And on December 18, 2005, we drove up to my friend Jessica’s house. Why so many cars in the street, he wondered. Well, duh! This is that time of year when everyone is having holiday parties. Which is of course why he was led to believe that we were going to Jessica’s house. It was to be a friendly gathering to exchange gifts and share some food. Again, this perfectly explained the wrapped gift in my lap, and they trays of h’ors d’oeuvres I had made.
We got there, and right on cue, all of Todd’s friends and family yelled surprise! I had contracted a local company to come in and set up gambling tables. Right there in Jessica’s living room and dining room, we had poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. We also had professional dealers.
So the way it worked was that you started off with x amount of chips. You played for 3 hours and at the end of three hours, you turned in your chips for raffle tickets. Then, you took your raffle tickets and placed them in the cups that were in front of the prize/prize(s) you hoped to win.
Now these prizes were all silly. At the time I worked for a promotional products company, and the Director of Marketing, a friend of mine, raided the samples closet and had kindly donated some silly things such as golf balls, umbrellas, notepads, etc.
There was also a black pleather padfolio that contained about 20 different kinds of pens, all printed with a different company or name. This was a demo padfolio that salesmen used to showcase different styles and typography.
The 364 words preceding this paragraph were a long-winded way to get to the point of this post.
And that is, why do people go so crazy for free pens?
After this whole 6 months of planning, all the hard work, all the secretiveness, all the saving, what it all came down to was the pens.
My father, who at the time, was 58 years old, put all his eggs in one basket. Literally. He took all of his raffle tickets, and I believe demanded my 13 year old sister’s tickets, and put them all in the cup for the pens.
Thanks to a blind drawing, I magically and woefully, plucked out a raffle ticket that did not allow my father to lay claim to those pens.
Of all the injustice in the world! I must be a horrible daughter. No really, I must be, because he pulled me aside and asked me what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I have made sure he got the one thing he really wanted?
We will leave the obviously dysfunctional dynamics of that relationship for another time.
But, PENS? Why so nuts about free pens?
A few weeks ago I was at my neighborhood Verizon store. I spend entirely too much time there due to a series of mishaps with my most recent phone “upgrade” and have become pretty friendly with the manager and some of the staff.
I happened to be up at their customer service counter when their LG rep came in for a visit. He said “Hey everyone! Free pens!”
I couldn’t believe the stampede as they charged the counter, fearful of being left out, all alone in the cold, penless.
Don’t people know that you can buy 20 pens for a dollar at Marc’s?
And I know I am not innocent of this phenomenon. I am not pointing fingers, merely trying to understand it.
I brought this subject up with my husband, to get his take on this as a post topic. At first he was doubtful that this was true. He remembered the birthday party incident but chalked that up to “well that’s just how your dad is Lilia.” But the more he thought about it, the more he realized it was true. He had been witness to it, and had even succumbed to free-pen-itis himself.
So valued readers, explain this to me. Why do we get so excited about a three cent piece of plastic?