The High School Boyfriend calls me about the old yearbooks.
He leaves a long message on my voicemail thanking me for my thoughtful surprise package.
I miss his call by seconds. I call him back moments later but he doesn't pick up the phone. Maybe he's in the bathroom or something. So I leave a message expressing my hope that the yearbooks lead to good art. "We haven't spoken in a long time. I'd love to catch up," I tell his answering machine.
He doesn't call back.
So now I'm left to wonder if he really is thankful or if he's just frightened that I might start stalking him. Because if it's the latter, can I count my gift as a nice gesture?
I consider calling him again to explain that the gift was part of a year-long project. As an artist he would probably understand my experiment as a type of performance and appreciate the discipline involved.
Or, he might just see it as a desperate and sad attempt by an old girlfriend to worm her way back into his life. Which it's not. But how could he know that?
Another more odious thought pops into my head: If I call to explain that I sent him the yearbooks as part of an experiment to be nice, does his knowledge of my motivation negate the niceness? What if he feels used? Like I don't really care about his art at all. Like I just sent him the yearbooks so I could make another notch in my nice stick for the year? And, by not calling him and allowing him to tell me that he feels cheapened by my present--if that's in fact how he feels--am I cheating? Am I just avoiding a conversation where he tells me that my gesture is self-serving and lacks artistic merit by imagining that he's somehow ducking my call because he thinks I'm criminally insane and not because he's just busy. Or lost his cell phone in the sofa cushions. Or something.
I decide not to call him because I just reread the last paragraph which makes me sound like I'm one step away from boiling a bunny.
"An Unfortunate Gift" will have to be added to my collection of names I could call my future, imaginary rock band.