When gifts come back to haunt you

David Sedaris in the New Yorker:

Davidsedaris1250For the past ten years or so, I’ve made it a habit to carry a small notebook in my front pocket. The model I favor is called the Europa, and I pull it out an average of ten times a day, jotting down grocery lists, observations, and little thoughts on how to make money, or torment people. The last page is always reserved for phone numbers, and the second to last I use for gift ideas. These are not things I might give to other people, but things that they might give to me: a shoehorn, for instance—always wanted one. The same goes for a pencil case, which, on the low end, probably costs no more than a doughnut.

I’ve also got ideas in the five-hundred-to-two-thousand-dollar range, though those tend to be more specific. This nineteenth-century portrait of a dog, for example. I’m not what you’d call a dog person, far from it, but this particular one—a whippet, I think—had alarmingly big nipples, huge, like bolts screwed halfway into her belly. More interesting was that she seemed aware of it. You could see it in her eyes as she turned to face the painter. “Oh, not now,” she appeared to be saying. “Have you no decency?”

More here.