Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Answer Gift

I invented something today.

Maybe I didn't invent it, but I am naming it and I am taking full credit for that. At least.

Back in the summer, I sent a 1AMish text message to a bunch of people exclaiming, "TRANS-EFFING-FORMERS!" to let everyone know that I had just emerged satisfied and triumphant from my own neighborhood's premiere of the 2-hour trip back to my childhood. My trainer received that text. And she had a good laugh with me next time I saw her as we traded notes about what we enjoyed most about the movie.

A month later, she laughed when I serenaded her with "The Amazing Spider-Pig" theme from The Simpsons Movie. After both of us saw the flick, we traded notes about that one, too.

A week ago, she came to the gym clutching a small bag. I had not completed my Christmas shopping, so I was embarrassingly empty-handed. I didn't feel quite so bad when I opened the bag to find a t-shirt with the Autobot logo blaring from the chest area. We both laughed. As much at the memory of the first laugh as anything else.

When I resumed digging around for this b-boy movie that I really wanted to get for her, I kept coming up empty. My second choice, The Flight of the Conchords Season One , proved to be equally elusive. Then I saw a big stack of DVDs for The Simpsons Movie at Target. And the Answer Gift was born.

As you might deduce, the Answer Gift represents a dialogic approach to gift-giving. Like it's a thoughtful conversation. Jerome gives a gift to Tamara that corresponds to a shared experience unique to the two of them. As if he were asking her a question. Tamara then gives a gift to Jerome that corresponds to that same experience (or perhaps another thing they share in common). As if she were answering him.

Since I invented the name for the Answer Gift, I'm also going to set a couple of rules:

1) There is no price range or call for price parity. The thought is 1,000X more important than the cost. A good answer gift could cost 1/50th of the gift it is responding to. Or it could cost $375 more than the question gift. Doesn't matter. Long as it is a fitting response.

2) You can't give the answer gift at the same time you receive the question. You can give an answer gift at Christmas or for an anniversary or some other mutually shared holiday, but only after you've received the question gift first.

3) The answer gift doesn't have to be directly linked to the question. Conversational tangents are permitted and encouraged. As long as the answer gift connects in some way to an experience you share with the recipient(s).

And I think that's it. For now. Too many rules really aren't good for anything. trainer did laugh when she saw the box with Homer J.'s face and that porcine webslinger. What comes next I cannot say. Guess it's her turn to answer. Or not. That's kinda the beauty of the concept. It can end at any time. Or continue for as long as it keeps making sense.

Just like a real conversation.

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