Auntie SparkNotes: Am I Getting This Present, Or What?
I have a question (shocking, I know). It’s about gifts. See, I’m perfectly aware that it’s straight-up rude to get pushy about receiving gifts. But, well, what if it’s kinda important to me to know? See, here’s what happened. My friend, T, said that she would buy me a book for my birthday. I was happy, because I wanted it anyway, so it was a good plan for me. However, my birthday came and went and she never mentioned it again. I don’t want to go out and buy it if she’s planning on giving it to me but it was, say, accidentally shipped to Camelot and is therefore late, but I do want to read this book! Is there a not outrageously awful way I can check in with her before I give in and buy the book myself? I solemnly swear I don’t mind waiting a bit or getting it myself, but even my most casual and respectful ideas seem like they could be misinterpreted as greediness or rudeness. Is there a minimum time to wait before it’s okay to just get it myself? It seems rude to ask, but also rude not to check and then seem like I don’t appreciate her offer. But I really want to read this book!
Well, yes! Of course you do! And hoo boy, if ever there were an audience who could thoroughly sympathize with you on this one, it's your fellow nerds here at SparkLife. WE FEEL YOU, FRIEND. Even Auntie SparkNotes relates completely to the frustration of having to wait to get your hands on a story you've been dying to read. It's agony!
Unfortunately, unless you and your friend have the kind of super-close and easy relationship in which you can just come out and say, "Hey buddy, are you still planning to give me Proust as a birthday present, or what?" (and since you had to ask, I've got to assume that this isn't the case), then it's an agony you can't solve by poking her about the whereabouts of your gift. You're right: "Where's my present?" is just not a thing you can say without being rude. (And because it's not uncommon for people to make gift-related promises like this and then promptly forget about them, being able to shrug it off when it happens is a useful skill to have.)
That's the bad news. The good news is, politeness doesn't make any requirements vis-a-vis buying a hoped-for gift for yourself when you don't receive it from someone else, so you can go out and get yourself that book right this minute, guilt free. Go ahead! You deserve it!
In all likelihood, that'll be the end of it. But if your friend sees you reading it and says something, then just tell her the truth: that you assumed she'd either changed her mind or forgotten, but that you didn't want to ask her about it because that would've been presumptuous—and anyway, that it's no big deal. (Which it isn't, right?) And if she really feels bad about it, then hey, she can always resolve to buy you the author's next book when it hits shelves… assuming she remembers.
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