Before we even met, he bought me a gift. How does one buy a gift for someone they don't know? Ask Marcus, 'cause he's really good at it.
This was not a conventional gift; and before he presented it, he had a tale to tell about its procurement. The original story, now so full of private jokes and innuendo, is pointless to share.
The gift was an odd piece of Americana: An antique child's bowling pin, made from heavy canvas, and hand sewn, with a leather base stitched onto the bottom.
Its shape resembles a cat sitting on a fence. It is made to look like a cat, with stylized ears, eyes, nose, mouth and whiskers.
The bowling pin was, obviously, part of a set. Marcus bought one for himself, one for Jefferson and one for me. Each cat is unique, and now, sadly, separated from its friends.
Jefferson's sits on his bookshelves in his living room. Marcus keeps his in his living room on a bookcase. Mine sits on a bookshelf in my living room, just inside my front door. We joke that, one day, perhaps the three cats will be together again.
When Marcus came to visit me, he arrived with another gift.
It was late on Thursday night, and he had just walked in an hour before. He'd dropped his bags in the living room and we made haste to the bedroom.
Afterwards, as we lay on my bed, Marcus kicked himself up to sitting, then slapped the mattress with both hands, grinning at me.
"I brought you a PRE-sent!"
"Stop! You did?!"
Now I was sitting up, drawn into his enthusiasm, even though it was almost 3 AM.
"Of course I did, beautiful!"
He leapt off the bed, ran to the living room and opened his suitcase. He brought back a rectangular package, wrapped in plastic. He tore the plastic off as he bounced back onto the bed beside me.
I knew what it was. A Seatbelt Bag.
I slapped his arm while bouncing up and down like a kid on the bed.
"Shut UP! No You DIDn't!! GodDAMN you, Marcus! This is so expensive! It's too much!"
"Do you really like it?"
I love it.