While scoping dates for my son’s high school graduation party, I asked him if he had a gift wish list – should anyone happen to ask.
“Well, I need a laptop,” he ventured, sheepishly.
“Yes, and I need a vacation in the south of France,” I thought to myself before delicately suggesting things of a more practical nature like a laundry basket or a travel iron.
He rolled his eyes and left me alone with his draft of the guest list and memories of my own high school graduation.
With diploma in hand, my friends and I were only interested in getting the three Ts before heading off to college – a typewriter, a turntable and a trunk (on which to set said turntable).
That, along with a plank of wood and a couple of crates (in which to store our albums), and we would have the equivalent of the modern-day entertainment unit right there in our very own dorm room. The vision of it had us excitedly trolling the back lots of fast food places hoping to snag matching plastic milk crates.
In those pre-information days, we also had the added thrill of not knowing who our roommate would be until move-in day. Not a big deal, really. We were accustomed to speaking to other people face-to-face or, if need be, on the telephone.
For me personally, having shared a bedroom with my two sisters, co-existing with just one other female, I figured, would be a walk in the park.
If you can remember a world in which iPods and MP3 players didn’t exist, then you can understand why a major source of concern for my friends and I was whether the stranger with whom we would be living shared our affinity for Peter Frampton, Journey and Supertramp. A worst case scenario, we imagined, involved being forced to share the cozy confines with someone who had brought along their entire collection of opera classics or any of that new icky punk rock stuff.
I remember adding “headphones” to my wish list and hoping for the best.
When I did finally learn the identity of my first-ever college roommate, I remember being thrilled to learn that she was not only bringing her brand new electric typewriter, but was willing to let me share it if I would supply the carbon paper and “White Out”.
My son’s return snapped me back to the present.
“Cash?” he asked, grimacing, his eyebrows nearly touching his hairline.
I mulled the idea for a moment. Having been to many graduation parties before, I couldn’t recall ever seeing among the festive decorations and lavish spreads of appetizers and hot italian beef sandwiches a box with a slit on the top that had “Donations” scrawled on the side of it.
As tempting as it would be to have his guests foot the bill for his dream laptop, I replied, “Tacky.”
“How about gift cards?” he mumbled.
“From which place?” I asked.
He rattled off a list of his favorite eateries.
Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. “I’ve got two words for you, pal – meal plan.”
Before I start writing, “Your presence is the only gift needed” at the bottom of his invitations, what gift suggestions do you have for today’s grads?