Despite my teenage dreams of having a huge rock to flash at all the people who made me feel insecure, I didn't want an engagement ring or a wedding band when I actually got married, and my husband didn't want a wedding band for himself. For me, it feels so unnecessary to have one and a bit proud for the wrong reasons. I'm not proud of having found a man willing to marry me. I don't feel like telling everyone how in-love we are. It feels awkward and inappropriate. I'm proud of my husband, but it's for who he is in his own right, not who he is to me. We get along together. We complement each other. We can make each other laugh more than anyone else in this whole entire world, and that's what I tell people when it comes to explaining our relationship. I don't mention love because there's no need.
Despite all that, we wanted to exchange some sort of jewelry, and I'd been drilling him for ideas for well over a year as our 1st anniversary approached. "How about necklaces? How about a ring but not a wedding band? What about a bracelet?" Nothing. However, knowing everything else about him, I decided a wrist watch would make the most sense. They can be a bit flash. They're practical. They go with lots of different clothes. Some are very difficult to break.
Having made my decision due to the dearth of information, I went around looking for wrist watches and thought a nice Hamilton would be appropriate, but I still doubted myself. I took him to look at them, and he decided that it would feel cumbersome, they were ugly, they were too big, on and on... Confused, I started probing him for ideas again. He told me a pendant watch might be nice, and I informed him that only little old ladies who wear a lot of rose-scented talcum powder wear pendant watches. He quickly abandoned that idea and then suggested maybe a bracelet or a ring which just about floored me. No to the watch but yes to a men's ring? I abandoned the idea of getting him a present for a while. In the meantime there was the matter of getting me a piece of jewelry, and I knew what I wanted.
A couple months prior, we'd been to a shop that sold a combination of art, sculpture, jewelry, and succulents, and we left with a large euphorbia that day. I still remembered one necklace that I particularly loved, and we returned to the store. It was locally made in sterling silver and stones. It was one of a kind. It was titled and signed just like a painting that you wear around your neck. It was within our price range, but my husband still balked at the price and informed me that we would have to cut back on everything and not spend a single cent for months and months and months. Basically, he would buy it, grudgingly. I left in complete silence, and we drove away.
I started crying on the way home because this was something he'd been promising for over a year, and then he made me feel like crap. He was about to run out and buy it when we got home, but I didn't let him because if he had, he would have done it just to not be "in trouble" and not for any other reason. I was upset and basically yelled all the reasons why I was upset because yelling is the only way I can really differentiate me being generally annoyed and being genuinely upset. yay.
That was our first anniversary.
A week later, I drove out to Tennessee vowing to get him the best present ever and make him feel like mutton. I went to my favorite antique store and found a gorgeous 1902 Hamilton pocket watch that railroad conductors would use. I also got a good price but left the original price tag on it. I told all my friends about my revenge present, and soon we were all telling similar stories of giving presents out of revenge to somehow show in some perverse way that we were better than those to whom we were giving our presents. It was interesting that everyone had a story but hadn't consciously known what they were doing because the passive-aggression was so well-masked and hidden. These presents weren't to get some physical or monetary thing in return. They were given to make people feel bad about themselves and their decisions.
The first night I returned home from Tennessee, I gave my husband his watch, told him how fabulous and wonderful it was, and informed him that I'd left the price tag on. He balked at the tag, and I laughed and told him that it wasn't really how much I'd spent on it. We unpacked the car. I felt the world slowly stop spinning inside my eye sockets due to the long drive. My husband, to whom I'd presented a revenge gift, gave me my necklace that had set my quest for passive-aggressive revenge into motion, and I knew he'd done it because he loved me which changed the revenge pocket watch into something better.
BECAUSE I GOT THE NECKLACE AND THE REVENGE!!!!
Just kidding. I would have bought him the pocket watch anyway, but the timing was perfect either way which is perhaps why the revenge present is the perfect revenge should one ever seek it. If the person who receives it doesn't know it was given out of the revenge, it only hurts the person seeking it. If the person who receives it feels guilty or ashamed in some way, amends can be made. If amends are made before the gift is given, then the gift is for friendship and love despite the original intention.