"Gifts for Girlfriend" was one of the things my young neighbor added to his things-to-do list in the middle of November last year.
Tyler is twenty eight and this past summer was surprised to find himself 50% owner of a serious relationship with a young woman named Ashley. It dawned on him that what he was feeling for his new lady was different from previous girlfriends when he handed her a box of chocolates on her birthday and suddenly but instinctively knew that wasn't what he had meant to say.
With this new understanding, Tyler's intentions were good as Christmas approached. He gave himself lots of time to buy a more appropriate present for his lady love. He made not one, not two, but three two hour drives to the city to pick out a present at the Mall.
But now it was late in December. Santa was getting ready to leave the North Pole and he still didn't have anything in his bag for Ashley.
The guy was frantic.
I learned about this sorry state of affairs when Tyler came into my store to fuel up in preparation for his fourth trip to the city. It was cold and still dark at
7:30 in the morning and the cowboy had been up since 4:30 feeding cattle because he expected to be gone all day. There was a fierce
blizzard blowing. It was Saturday, December 20th...four shopping days before
While he was paying for his diesel I asked him where he was headed on such a blustery day.
"The City." he said. "I still haven't got anything for Ashley."
Personally, if I didn't have a store to run when I peeked out the window that morning, I'd have chosen to go back to bed on such a miserable day. But that's because in the face of a whiteout I don't have a young man's feelings of immortality. Neither do I have love in my heart and I don't drive an F250 Super Duty Ford 4x4 with $2500 worth of winter rubber between me and the road.
Lover Boy was damned well going to town because "Gift for Girlfriend" was on his shopping list!
Except he wasn't.
"Hate to tell you this, Tyler," I said. "The RCMP phoned the radio station to let everybody know that they've closed the highway. Visibility is almost zero and two semis and a car from Saskatchewan are already in the ditch."
He went pale.
"Sit down," I said. "Let's have a coffee."
Tyler's granddad could have told him what he'd been doing wrong with this gifts for girlfriend business. He was putting the cart before the horse.
The guy was so frantic about finding a gift that he forgot about the girlfriend.
Ashley doesn't shop at the Mall. Last time was probably when she and her Mom went looking for Grade Twelve school supplies. The young lady is now a Veterinary Assistant and has been out of college for two years.
My guess is that she buys her wardrobe from Lammle's Western Store, her winter snow pants from Peavy Mart and her underwear from Sears Catalogue.
My conversation with Tyler went something like this:
Me: "Does Ashley shop at the Mall?"
Tyler: Long pause. "Oh, shit!"
Me: "That's why you couldn't bring yourself to buy anything, Tyler."
Tyler: "Oh, shit!"
Me: "But you did good, Tyler. You knew all along it wouldn't work."
Tyler: "Oh, shit! Shit! SHIT!" (I told you the poop hit the fan.)
Me: "What would she like, Tyler?"
Tyler: Pause. Pause. Long pause.
"I know what to get her!
I gotta go!"
And the son of a bitch got up and left without paying for his coffee.
Ashley grew up on a ranch. Her Dad had been a bullrider. Her brothers were still riding bulls. Her Mom had been one of those trick riders you sometimes see at rodeos...the kind of daredevil who hooks her feet into some sort of contraption on the horse and flings herself out sideways as the beast circles the arena.
Ashley had started barrel racing when she was six. She and her Mom still compete against one another at local events.
When Tyler finally placed the horse before the cart he realized in an instant that he knew what would please his lady.
He went home and arranged to take Ashley to the Wrangler Pro Rodeo competition in Rapid City, South Dakota in February AND to really get ahead of his game bought a flight for two plus accommodation so that they could both attend the National Pro Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas the following December...twelve months away!
When the weather cleared later in the day, he drove to one of the larger towns up the road. He bought a toy horse from the United Farmers of Alberta store and wrapped it up nicely along with the e-receipts for the Rodeo travel arrangements.
What a guy!
I love him, too.
Think of the girl BEFORE you go shopping for gifts for your girlfriend.
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