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The Creepiest Gift Ever Received

One of the first people I met in Iowa City, M—, seemed good company at first, someone to study with or talk to on a Friday night. We went to a movie or two, had coffee or pizza sometimes; she liked to chat on the phone and called with some regularity. By Christmas break, she confessed she was in love with me and I was oblivious to it and she knew she could make me happy, so why wouldn’t I return her affections? Two months later M— declared she was over me. Two months after that, she begged, “You never rely on me! Why won’t you touch me? Give me hug? Does any blood pump through that cold stone you call a heart? Why won’t you love me? Woe! Woe! Woe! Let’s hang out this summer, k? Will you come to my sister’s wedding?”

How slow I was to realize that there was something very wrong in that friendship! Fortunately, she was moving that coming August, and she, while working up to the move, found it necessary to declare (often) how I was in her past. She had a bright future ahead, and by God! She was going to claim it. Of course, when she got to that future, she phoned twice a week to tell me how great it was. More than once she asked what did I want for my birthday? “Nothing at all,” I said. “Save your money, please.”

When she arrived in Iowa City that Thanksgiving, she called on her cell late on Tuesday night. “I can’t call anyone else this late. Can I crash at your place?” I lived in a three-room efficiency apartment then; I had no room to put anyone up. But I acquiesced. When she arrived, she carried two bags and something wrapped in plastic. “It’s your birthday present,” M— exclaimed, and unwrapped it. “It’s a collage my students made for you!”

I protested, “I didn’t ask for any present.”

“But I thought you’d like something we made,” she replied. “The kids will be really disappointed if you don’t like it.” How could I deny the kids? I said thank you, stole a quick glance in appreciation, and I put the collage away, safe, in a closet.

Several months later I pulled the collage out and gazed at it in earnest—and, quickly, amazement. I don’t remember its every word, but the images! Would that I had a photo to recreate it for you, here. Attached to a sheet of blue poster board, the kind you might buy at Wal*Mart for a junior high report, smack in the center, was a large silver tuna. Astride the tuna, an exuberant, nearly-naked woman rode bareback. Four infants were attached at the poster board’s edges; they stared hungrily, the way Gerber babies stare from Gerber ads. From the bottom left edge of the board arose a large banana; near the fish woman’s head hovered a large pen, with paper on which to write. Another woman, pictured from the waist up, also thin, wearing only her brassiere, stared from the board, too. Scattered also in the collage was food: not only the banana, but also a donut, and other foods I forget. Finally, and most incredibly of all, there was a condom—thankfully unused—probably pulled from a Trojan ad. Each of the students had signed the collage’s back.

I think we are all know Freud well enough to read that collage well?

So, what’s the creepiest gift you ever got?



Yikes. That is a creepy gift.

The creepiest gift I ever received was a garden troll. That, in and of itself, is not so creepy. I received the gift, though, while I was asleep, so I woke up the next morning with a troll in my bed. Needless to say, I was completely freaked out. My roommates will pay someday. Someday soon.

i’ve received so many creepy gifts, i don’t know if i can begin to narrow them down. it’ll take some thinking…

The summer after my sophomore year I did an ministry internship at a church in the pacific northwest. While I was there a recent HU grad joined the church, as she had just got a job in the area. We didn’t talk much. She helped me out a bit with the youth group sometimes, that was about the extent of it. I went back to Searcy for the next school year, and I would get emails from her every now and then, saying how I should come back next summer, etc. Early in the spring semester she came down for a visit, so she and I were hanging out with a few of the kids from the youth group who had just become freshmen. While we walked out of Midnight Oil I lost my balance a bit and drifted into her, and my hand touched hers. “Excuse me,” I mumbled. She had a contemplative look on her face for the rest of the evening and I remember thinking, “This could be trouble.” She went back home, and two weeks later I got this package from her in the mail. It was full of candy and little Star Wars toys (she was a big Star Wars fan…yeah.) Even Jar Jar was there. My roomate and friends looked in disbelief at my spoils of conquest, spread out on my bed. “Is she hot?” “No. Her sister is though.” “Dude, you’ve got to shake this girl.” I never answered another email from her.

GR: was it a complete troll, or just a troll’s head that you woke beside?

JH: A box of Star Wars figurines? I shudder to think about it.

J, really, I wasn’t trying to bait you! I had misplaced all memory of your creepiest gift when I wrote this. I did remember it a few minutes ago, though, and I thought: “Wow, J has a good story for this one!” Speaking of, it’s been a year. Go ahead and tell it: It’ll be buried in the comments. (As I type, I’m rubbing grubby hands together…)

GR’s troll raises a question: do most creepy gifts come from scorned lovers? Is there a relative value that can be assigned to “creepy” which defines a gift from the non-scorned vs. the scorned?

I haven’t had any creepy gifts from scorned lovers, so I can’t answer that question for you. One lover that scorned me did give me an 8X10 of himself (to remember him by). It wasn’t so much creepy, though, as really &*$%ing annoying. On the bright side, the photo killed my crush real quick.

And yes: it. was. a. whole. troll.

I can’t stop laughing at the color glossy breakup 8×10. Who does that?! I suppose I could construct a coherent narrative if he were a model or an actor, but if not? Does he keep the 8×10s just for breakups?

Anyway, you’re right: not creepy, but wow, funny.

Hmmm. We could figure out a way to tell it secondhand, for the sake of posterity… “I knew this guy who knew this guy who—” or something like that.

i like the idea of telling vicarious creepy gift stories, esp since i never received one (unless you count letters as gifts, in which case, i once got one from prague that chris can affirm was REALLY creepy, as well as a creepy email or two).

oh let’s not get into creepy emails. i…i…i prefer not to think about it.