"Gnome.” That one word that conveyed a dozen sentences. Specifically, the meaning was, "Please bring me a gnome. A Brian Wilson gnome. I couldn’t make it to the game. I have a baby. I have a garden. I need a gnome. Please.”
And the kicker — I am your boss.
Boss or not, there was no amount of wheedling and cajoling likely to entice my giving up what might be the most coveted giveaway of this year’s San Francisco Giants season. At least, the gnome seemed like the most anticipated if the begging and bribing in my immediate circles were any indication. Everybody had a hook — I’m your nephew, your dog sitter, your in-laws, your pal. I’ll buy your ticket, I’ll be eternally grateful, I’ll never ask again.
Then there was also the editor card.
What if I revoke your already approved days off? he asked the week before The Event.
What if I call in sick for three weeks straight? I countered.
The truth is I’d likely have given him the gnome if my other half hadn’t already committed one of our collective two gnomes. I didn’t know that California law automatically considered bearded closer figurines immediate community property but since the unspoken rule between us has always been keep one, sell or give away the other there was no extra gnome to go around.
Standing in line an hour and a half prior to the gates opening, I started to think my boss had the right idea. Stay home, sleep in, watch the game from the comfort of the couch and hope somebody else will do the collecting. The crowd, smashed up front without any discernible lines, seemed more fitting for a presidential visit with gold-filled goody bags than a pre-game giveaway of dolls likely made by underpaid and overworked children in Third World countries.
Half these people were probably fans and wanted the trinkets for their own good. The others were looking for a quick buck on eBay. Spanning both groups were those who just like free stuff — those who can’t pass up the free snacks at Costco and are willing to sucker-punch others while clamoring for the Comcast "Authentic Fan” signs passed out for the pre-game telecast in front.
"I want one! I want one!” screamed the young girl in front of me, the one who stepped on my foot, nearly spilled her drink and despite heavily crystallized acrylic nails in orange and black seemed clueless about how to even spell baseball.
She didn’t get a paper sign and, shamefully, I secretly hoped she and the extended family who had shoved their way to the front of the line without so much as an excuse me or sorry didn’t get a gnome either. They certainly didn’t deserve a gnome, I figured indignantly. Same goes for the guy wearing the Detroit Tigers hat with his Giants jersey — "You can’t mix teams!” denounced my indignant game day partner. Obviously, he was undeserving, too.
Wasn’t my editor more worthy than these folks? If humor carried brownie points, he definitely had it down.
Walking up to the park, my phone had alerted a text message from him. No lengthy pleas. No darling photos of his baby girl holding a sign saying "Please.” Instead, just a word.
Hours later, gnome successfully in hand without resorting to the use of sharp words and sharper claws, I realized he wouldn’t want the gnome anyway. It was small, more bobblehead size than legitimate garden sculpture. The gnome wouldn’t even work in a garden of bonsai and miniature roses. My guilt was eased.
Or was it?
Opening the Daily Journal yesterday, I learned with the rest of our readers that his desire still ran deep to make slugs and other garden critters fear the beard still.
Just give up the gnome, came one friend’s suggestion. It’s just a toy.
Just a toy? Just a toy? Fools! That toy represents hours of my life and mental calm that can never be recouped.
Then a response to his column — Why on earth would he tackle gnome woe when the world is filled with Facebook uncertainty and Obama’s swing through Redwood City? I guess then, following that logic, why would I also waste time on gnomes? Short answer: for the same reason I and the other crazies stood in line and fended off endless pleas for charity. Gnomes might not shore up Wall Street or decide who gets in the White House but short of falling victim to my rambunctious dogs, chances are good mine can outlast Zuckerberg and Obama. Besides, it looks better on the shelf — or in the miniature garden.
That said, will I cave into guilt, break my other gift promise and deliver one to the other side of the newsroom?
Michelle Durand’s column "Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com