Not This Year, Sweetheart.
I don't know. And you know what? I'm glad I don't know.
She didn't like them, anyway.
Sure, now, years later, she says she did. But back then, on Christmas morning, when she opened the box? You should have seen her face.
You know the face you make at a dinner party when you bite into some special dish the hostess spent a week preparing, and you wonder if maybe she committed a crime in some states for what she did to that poor beef? That weak-smile face? The face that freezes for a few seconds while it checks with the brain for something appropriate to say?
That was the face I got.
"Ohhh," Jessica said in that singsongy way that attempts to mimic genuine enthusiasm. "I [pause for brain to check in with face] love them."
We were at her mother's house that Christmas. Not wanting to ruin the whole day, I didn't call her on it. But that night, in bed, I pounced.
"You didn't like them, did you?"
"Don't give me 'what,'?" I said, like Humphrey Bogart as detective Sam Spade in one of those hard-boiled 1940s detective movies. "You know very well what. The earrings, that's what."
Her expression gave her away, and she knew it. She had been trying to hide something, hoping she could get away with it, and now she was found out. She had nowhere to turn but the truth. But it wouldn't come easy.
"I do like them," she stammered. "I just they're beautiful I oh, it's me, not you."