Presents? Perfect!

Patty Marx and Daniel Menaker

Presents? Perfect!

Patty Marx and Daniel Menaker

Presents? Perfect!
An email conversation about the news of the day.
May 10 1999 6:47 PM

Patty Marx and Daniel Menaker

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Hey, wait a minute (after I thank you for your kind words about my alleged novel; thank you). I haven't even finished my second Dunkin Donuts coolatta and you're going off to some event? They told me I had until 6 p.m. to finish this Breakfast Table. I got tied up in a meeting with a poet, Billy Collins, and my bosses and an agent and all, and I'm sorry but I just didn't have a chance to do this until now. Now we're out of sequence, there are coffee-cake crumbs everywhere, someone took the orange juice away, the waiters are looking at me with suspicion and impatience, all alone here at the table, and I don't know what to do. Except apologize, which I herewith do. And answer.

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When I got married, we didn't register for a single thing, except, metaphorically, for a lifetime of bliss and four-figure bills of all kinds--medical, electrical, dental, automotive, therapeutic, educational, etc. We loved all our presents, as I recall--but remember that this was almost 20 years ago. My aunt Priscilla, for instance, gave me a book of Browning's poems signed by Robert Browning. How can a marriage blessed with such gifts include even a single bad present? But I have a call in to my wife, who may remember a clinker. We're thinking about selling the Browning because of a dreaded five-figure bill concerning renovation. Don't tell my Aunt Priscilla. Who, speaking of marriages, got married a few years ago at the age of 84. To a younger man, as all the guests somewhat relentlessly joked. He was, like, 81.

If I owned a country it would be Scotland, for the beauty and the fiddling. Would you let me use the Tower, church, jewels, etc.? According to the news (yay! the news! at last!) the independence movement in Scotland has become a little more accommodationist (Mrs. Giles: Is that a word? I mean, Does that word exist [active verbs!]?), so when you own England, maybe you could lend me the good British scepters 'n' services.

My birthday is September 17, if you and the world (which will, speaking of presents, send me many of them, all good, from now on) must know. Are you going to zodiac me tomorrow, or something? And by the way, who is going to go first, now that you have stood not upon the order of our chatting? Women! When's your birthday, as long as we're using this format for gift registration?

Daniel Menaker is a senior literary editor at Random House and author of The Treatment (click here to buy the book) and two collections of short stories. Patty Marx writes comedy for movies, television, and print. Her most recent books are Meet My Staff (click here to buy the book), a children's book illustrated by Roz Chast, and The Skinny (click here to buy the book) written with Susan Sistrom.