Okay, I'm getting married in a little less than two months. I thought the benefits of this were a honeymoon, a nice ceremony and getting to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love. But do you know they give you presents for this? Not chincy stuff, either. In the past month, after we registered, boxes have been showing up at the house with china and glassware in them. That is so cool! I mean, it's not even like a birthday, where you have to go to a party to recieve the gifts and do some unwrapping. No, they send them to your house!

And if you're the groom, it's even better. See, I'll be getting a bachelor party thrown by my best man...strippers, alcohol, your basic long night party. The bride gets a shower, wherein she gets to open...you guessed it...presents! Some of which are things I want too! And I don't even have to open anything...it's amazing. She went up to Irving for her shower and came back with a truckload (literally...she's got a pickup and a tarp) of presents. I spent that same Saturday gaming with my friends as usual, putting forth no unwrapping effort or driving effort, and I still got the presents! It's better than a birthday!

Not that birthdays are bad, mind you. My birthday is also coming up this month. I've long enjoyed the present tradition of that particular personal holiday as well. I've kind of lost out on the society-ingrained presents, like getting to drive and getting to drink (not together, mind you)...the next "society" present I get is when I turn 65 and get discounts. Or maybe when I turn 45 and I can buy a sportscar and a wig and people will write it off as a "phase" and not just "really, really pathetic." Oh, who I am kidding...it'd still be really, really pathetic.

But anyway, my point here is that there is a special kind of glee in getting something from someone. When I was younger, birthdays meant getting stuff. Stuff I couldn't buy because I was a kid, and kids don't have jobs. Well, unless they have paper routes. I never had a paper route. My first job was working at a Pizza Hut when I turned 16, unless you count the occasional bout of lawn-mowing or the "professional whiner/begger" role that most kids are born with. Even when I was getting older, in high school and college, birthdays meant getting stuff I couldn't afford on my meager salary.

Now? Well I'm not Donald Trump, but I do OK. Most of the stuff I want, I can afford, and most of the stuff I really can't afford, nobody else can afford to buy for me either. (Sports cars, big screen TVs, a year's vacation in Hawaii, you know, the essentials of the millionaire package.) But there's just something cool about someone else buying it for you. I've got tons of movies in my collection, but I remember which ones I bought and which ones I got for Christmas or birthdays. Same with computer games or any other kind of stuff that I get. I buy them on a regular basis, but there's a difference between thinking, "I guess I can splurge on that this month" and "Hey, somebody bought this for me!"

Anyway, I gotta go. Do some writing maybe, more likely play a game of Starcraft. Which, by the way, was a birthday gift from my friend Bengie.

Randy W. Lander

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