It’s gift-giving season.
We’ve been purchasing items for our loved ones for weeks now, gathering “just right” offerings to give during the holidays. The list of recipients has grown shorter over the years. Along with with most of our grownup friends, we’ve all agreed to focus on the children, rather than the adults who are fortunate enough to have just about everything they could need or want. Still, The Husband and I like to exchange gifts with each other. In the nearly two decades that we’ve been together, the challenge of finding an ideal present for The Husband has proven to be quite daunting. He’s a particular sort of a guy. He likes what he likes, and he likes it the way he likes it. Small details matter to him. I’m usually quite attentive to specifics, and I pride myself on choosing great gifts for people. However, The Husband has stymied me many times, resulting in epic failures that have become legend. The Flav-O-Flav story is one such episode.
A few weeks ago, our friend Bob was visiting and we all got to talking about coffee. This is a topic of much deliberation among The Husband and his guy friends, who all engage in an elaborate and precise method of preparing their daily brew. When The Husband and I first started having breakfast together, I was astonished by the painstaking and time-consuming approach he took to making coffee. It involved boiling a pot of water, filling an insulated pitcher with the water (in order to warm the vessel), carefully measuring and grinding fresh beans, then pouring the powder into a drip cone. When the coffee had dripped through into a glass carafe, The Husband emptied the insulated pitcher and re-filled it with the coffee. Only then would he pour himself a cup and sit down to read a magazine or newspaper. I could not imagine taking that kind of time every day before work, but this was his habit. It was also the habit of three other men–The Husband’s oldest and dearest friends.
The Husband continued his coffee ritual after we were married and after the arrival of The Boy. However, having a baby in the house had a definite effect on our morning routines. The Husband sometimes struggled to fit in his coffee practice while also helping with the care and feeding of our son. That year, inspiration struck in the form of a perfect gift idea. One of the high-end appliance companies had begun advertising a coffee maker with a timer and a built-in grinding device. A person could pour coffee beans into the hopper in the evening, turn the dial to control the intensity of the coffee flavor, fill the water tank, program the exact moment of coffee consumption, and go to sleep. In the morning, the machine would grind the beans, brew the coffee, and greet its owner with a steaming cup of elixir. This all sounds ideal, right?
Bob had never heard the story of this ill-fated holiday gift. As I began to tell it, I got to the part of the narrative where I said, “so, there was this coffee maker that would grind the beans…”
“Oh God, NO,” he interrupted. “Don’t tell me you fell for that. You can’t get a good cup of coffee from one of those things.”
“But it seemed like such a good idea,” I protested, laughing because The Husband’s reaction had been exactly the same when he opened the box.
The Husband joined in the telling of the tale. He told Bob that he had given the thing a try. He’d used it for three or four days, increasing the amount of beans, tweaking the fineness of the grounds, adjusting the quantity of water, all to no avail. The Flav-O-Flav, as we had affectionately named the machine, was a dismal failure. We returned it. The Husband went back to his methods, and the Flav-O-Flav became the embodiment of all misguided attempts at gift giving. I think it was around that time that The Husband and I decided that the element of surprise was overrated, and we should make specific requests for gifts to avoid further Flav-O-Flav incidents.
This year, The Husband has asked for a specialty grinder. I’m bringing him with me to the kitchen store to choose the exact make and model. Coffee, anyone?