Thanks for Nothing

Ha! I just found myself on the other side of the "thank you" issue -- twice. End of story: I will not make any fuss.

First, in front of three friends, my son J asked me if I'd pay for him to order the gang dinner from Papa Johns. Sort of put out that I feed these (very nice) kids regularly since they always hang out at my house, I said, "Um, er, well ... sure, if you chip in." J jokingly offered up a dollar. His friends sat there mute. Kept their eyes down. Looked at their poker chips. Not one said, "Here's five bucks."


Either they don't have the money to spare, which is possible since they're un- or underemployed high school boys, or they didn't get my hint -- which was aimed at them. I agreed to the pizzas since I was running out and couldn't put up a pot of spaghetti (plus I'm a sucker for making these guys happy; I adore them all), but I do wish someone other than just J would have thanked me for the $40-plus indulgence. To be fair, all the boys regularly thank me for hosting them and for other meals. I suspect they kept mute in this situation because I sort of asked for cash. And, I left the house right after the conversation; they may have expressed gratitude when the pies arrived or as they finished chowing down.


I learned a lesson here: If I wanted them to chip in, I should have been straightforward.


Then, I remembered that I never received a thank you note from someone. I gave a 13-year-old girl a small but thoughtful bat mitzvah present in March and never heard a word back.


The story's a bit more complex than you'd think. Her mother and I used to be friends but now are not. The girl shared her celebration with the son of a dear friend of mine, so my family was invited to the bash by the boy's family, not hers. I gave him a generous gift and bought her a necklace as a token of good will.


It is customary for b'nai mitzvah kids to churn out thank you notes in the weeks after their big days. I'm certain the girl sent appropriate correspondence to those who wrote her hefty checks. I think she should have kept her pen out and kept to her task until she showed gratitude for every item she received. To be clear, I do not blame the girl but her mother. Can you imagine a teenager who would willingly take on an effort like that without parental insistence?


I was obligated to give the delightful young woman nothing yet went out of my way -- a 45-minute drive! -- to find a pretty item with religious significance. Her mother tends to return gifts (Don't ask me about the preschool years. Oy, do I have stories to tell!), so maybe the mom brought this one back to Scott Laurent Gallery and found the price didn't justify a written recognition. It wouldn't be the first time: After our friendship had waned, I once gave the mother an inexpensive but pretty gift for a birthday get-together and never found an envelope with her return address in my mailbox. I'm sure she saw the Owen Allen wrapping paper, cashed in the cute little compact make-up mirror (it was only $3, but it was adorable and she wouldn't have known the price if she'd just kept it, plus we had barely any relationship at that point), and deemed the token purchase unworthy of any effort at a thanks. Can you imagine?


Thanks for nothing.


P.S. I know J shouldn't have asked for the pizza in front of his friends. He doesn't usually do things like that so I'm letting it ride.