Today is my partner Leon's birthday. I bought him a voucher at a health and massage type place - the Glasshouse. It is, apparently, a place for men only. Women with perfect complexions run it, or at least are at the front desk. I started to choose - one hot stone massage, one face thing, one something else treatment. The woman at the front desk said witheringly, "why don't you just decide on an amount, and then he can choose for himself?" So, chastened, I did.
Our boys, of course, thought it was the most boring present on earth. I tried to spice it up a bit, by putting it in a box - but they still looked glazed. What they were thinking was - where is the real present?
Now Leon has been going on for months about getting a pet. In fact, ever since we dispatched the two remaining dogs to friends in Johannesburg - (where one of them lives, I have seen, in complete luxury, sleeping on her owner's bed, eating rump steak). I have been resolute though. The answer is "No!" No cats, dogs, goldfish, hamsters - nothing alive.
My reasons have been clear. There is no-where for the dog to shit or wee - to put it bluntly. We now live in Cape Town. Gone are the days of large sprawling lawns. And, in any case, I spend my weekends, and time after arriving home in the evenings, fighting off neighbours who seem to think that the 1 metre of lawn on the pavement outside our house is a dog toilet. I don't intend dealing with more of the same with my own. So, the joke (I think it is a joke) has been, that Leon will be getting something furry for his birthday.
So, after all the discussions with the boys, about how we were going to sign our names on the card and wrap the present and keep it a surprise, Joshua (the youngest, aged 5 alias "Bin Laden") walks out and says to Leon "It's OK, you are getting a Dog"! Leon's face lit up!
So, yesterday evening, Leon goes to Yoga. I collect the voucher; the box in which it is to be presented; the specially matched wrapping paper; the sticky tape; the scissors and we all first draw cards - I realize I forgot to buy cards - we put everything into the box, wrapped it and hid it.
Leon came home, and Joshua Bin Laden announced to him that the present was, in fact, a cat! Dear God - Leon's face lit up again! I had hidden the real present on the top of a cupboard. Josh built a pile of cushions and climbed to the top of the cupboard to find it, except, managed to push the damn thing behind the cupboard. This required earth-moving excavations to retrieve it.
This morning, after giving Leon his present- (kids with bored looking faces as we sang happy birthday) - I remembered that I had, in fact ,bought a card for the children to sign - which they hadn't.
A dog, next time, I think.