After the past few months that Jeff has had, I wanted to buy him a good birthday gift. I mean, a really, really good birthday gift. We're usually pretty frugal with gifts, sticking to things like books, CDs, clothing... but this year I wanted something superior. It didn't take long for me to figure out what.
As you may or may not know, Jeff got into photography when we were in Japan. And he's proved himself a natural (if you don't believe me, check his Flickr account - the small pics on the left). He's always going on about all the equipment he would love to buy, and I'm always saying, yes, yes, let's work on a secure paycheck first! But the truth is, I'd love for him to get his hands on all these toys, cause I really believe in him and his photography. When Jeff is working on his pictures, he comes alive and shows me what it means to have God give you the desires of your heart. The passion is obvious. And I can't help but feel touched and proud all at the same time.
I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the necessary gadgets. I admit, I fall into the trap of only half listening when he excitedly tells me about all the lenses etc. he has researched online. And what little information I catch tends to fly out the other ear rather quickly.
But one thing I've known for a while is that Jeff needs a tripod. And two Sundays before his birthday, I decided that's what I was going to buy. The next day I got Larissa to drive me out to Henry's, where I felt very much like the absent-minded wife who has no clue what she's doing and can easily be persuaded to buy the most expensive, rip-off gimmick out there. But I tried really hard to listen and compare and think of what Jeff would really like to have. Oh, and I at least remembered what kind of camera he owns... Konica Minolta, right? ;)
After some time, I decided on the Manfrotto 190XPROB. I hesitated, thinking maybe I should go for its bigger brother, the 055XPROB, but decided against it. I mean, these things are so fancy, you have to buy the top part (ballhead) separately! So then I had to choose one of those things. All the ones on display looked too big, awkward, and gimmicky. I told the salesguy so. He then admitted that he prefers to use a much simpler Manfrotto ballhead that was displayed in a not so prominent spot. I took a look and thought, "Perfect. That looks like what Jeff would use." I dove in, made the purchases, and took it all home. I was pretty proud of myself, thinking I'd give Jeff the surprise of his life.
That Thursday, a week before Jeff's birthday, he came home late from a meeting, telling me all about how before the meeting he had stopped in at a used camera store. Then he went into great detail about the tripod and ballhead he had looked at, and how amazing they were. Based on the prices he listed, I was pretty sure that they were the same as what I had bought (yay!) In my most nonchalant manner, I asked, "So, what make was the tripod?" Okay, admittedly, it may not have been so nonchalant. I had just finished enjoying a glass of wine and was finding it hard to hide my excitement.
Jeff looked suspiciously at me. "Why?" he asked. "Have you been doing some research?"
I not-so-casually shrugged my shoulders. "Maybe. Your birthday is coming up, you know."
And then the not-so-well-put-together veneer broke, and the crooked smile appeared, closely followed by a little giggle.
"You're terrible at keeping a secret," said Jeff. "What did you buy me?"
And so, I wrecked a perfectly good birthday surprise. But no matter. Jeff got to get his birthday gift a week early, and I got to find out that I had chosen his gift well. Very well. And at 11:00 at night, I got to watch him excitedly set up his new toy, pull out his camera, test all the different heights and angles. He looked like a little boy again, and went on, describing to me the importance of being able to do this and do that, and angle it this way and that way.
And once again, it all went in one ear and swiftly out the other.
Here's the birthday boy, the day after his birthday, about to cut into the cake that I made. Yes mom, I can bake cakes! :)
Josh and Karen joined us, and we all got into the festivities... but only Jeff was required to wear a birthday hat...
Although Kaiya seemed to like it too...