Shopping Note:
Birthday Present
29 May 2018

¶ A few years ago, I was looking for a new dentist. Don’t ask. Ray Soleil said, why not try his, so I did. Ray’s dentist has a nice office on 60th Street, between Lexington and Park. I used to take the Lex, coming up from the subway right at the corner.

When the Q line was extended up Second Avenue, I took that train instead. Not only is it much more pleasant, but instead of walking two long uphill blocks to the dirty old IRT, I walk three short level blocks from the 63rd Street Q station to the dentist’s office. 

The first time I took the new route, early last year, I made a point of looking for the Oriental Lamp Shade Company, unaware that it had closed its Lexington Avenue branch. (I wound up replacing a disgracefully tattered pair of lampshades in the living room with an online purchase.) What did I find instead but Gale Grant Jewelry! It used to be on Madison Avenue, near the rear of St Patrick’s. I didn’t know that it had moved. I don’t think that Kathleen knew it, either.

Kathleen would want to know, you see, because that is where she has always bought the costume-jewelry earrings that she wears every day. Every once in a while, finding myself walking by the shop, I would stop in and pick up a pair of earrings that I hoped Kathleen would like. She is very hard to shop for. These visits were not very frequent, either, because I was not often in that part of town. I had to look long and hard before daring to make a choice. 

But now, here it was, Gale Grant, right on my way to the dentist. The dentist whom I have been visiting regularly for several years. Not like clockwork, exactly, but often enough. What could be simpler than stopping in on my way home from the dentist? I know exactly which tray to examine. Years of picking up Kathleen’s earrings wherever she happens to leave them after taking them off when she comes home in the evening have given me something approaching expertise in her taste.

Yesterday’s visit, after a cleaning that seemed to take a lot less time than used to be the case (thanks to regular visits), was equally brief. The owner joked about what a tough sale I was. 

When I got home, I tucked the pink paper bag under the pillows, by Kathleen’s pajamas, where she found them at bedtime. An instant hit: “Unlike anything that I have” — which would mean, in most cases, but not this one, “unlike anything that I would wear.” 

It never crossed Kathleen’s mind to mind that her birthday was over a month ago. 

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