Thursday, April 24, 2008

Buying a Birthday Present

Today was by brother Andrew’s 18th birthday. My parents just flew out of Chengdu a few days ago, but it wasn’t until the night before they left that I realized that they would be able to take back any present I bought him. It was already 9 pm, but Carrefour didn’t close for another hour and a half, so I figured I would be able to find him something. The problem was that Andrew has already been to China, so I couldn’t get him a random trinket, and my parents already bought him everything he asked for as a souvenir. And I only had an hour or two to find him something.

I had a great idea before I got to Carrefour, though, and after I bought his present, found a little wrapping paper and a box to put it in, I was set. I thought to myself that I could give Andrew a page of hints and he still wouldn’t be able to guess, so I’m going to, and you can see if you can guess his present.

What’s funny is that Andrew could have bought my gift when he was here, but when he went back he wouldn’t have been able to. I didn’t buy him something rare, though, because now he could buy them if he wanted to. I’m not sure if they are used more in China or in the US; I bought him a Chinese brand.

In fact, it was the cheapest kind I could find. There are whole stores dedicated to them, so I could have spent a lot of money, but Andrew won’t even use his, so I thought it wouldn’t matter. If somebody gave one to me, I don’t think I’d use it either, although several people here in China have asked if I’d like to. It’s a favorite among taxi drivers, although some foreigners don’t like it.

It’s a small package, really light, and easy to carry, but using it will set you puffing. My wrapping was superfluous, since most of it is wrapping, but the important part is quite potent. They are used year-round, for all occasions or no occasion. Some people use them to relax, kids use them because they’re exciting.

You need something else to make them work, but it’s not nearly as complicated as electricity or Internet access. We’ve had the tools to make them practically since Prometheus’ time, but they haven’t existed in their current form for more than a hundred years or so.

You can find a picture of them on every plane and in most establishments. You can’t eat or drink it; it’s not a rock; it’s not alive. I hope he laughed when he saw it, although they’re no joking matter. I assume it went through fine at customs on the way to the US, because my parents didn’t say anything. I didn’t tell them what it was either.

Andrew’s gotten my present now. Can you guess what it was?


katiepenguins said...

You know, it seriously throws me off every time someone refers to him as Andrew.

You got him cigarettes, of course! (The age thing was the one that I got first.)

Anonymous said...

I guessed it at, "I don’t think I’d use it either, although several people here in China have asked if I’d like to." But I was certain at, "It’s a favorite among taxi drivers." Is there a prize (something other than cigarettes) for the person who guesses it earliest in the blog entry?