YOU'VE been press-ganged into helping the Wolverine shop for a birthday present for her boyfriend.
You've never met the lad and as far as you can establish she barely knows him either, given that the relationship seems to be conducted almost entirely via text message and Facebook.
Although you have more pressing things to do, you are secretly gratified by the fact that your presence is most urgently required.
You inquire about her budget. Your daughter reveals that she is prepared to spend up to €30 on his gift. You almost choke.
That's about three times what she considers appropriate for her parents, grandparents, or siblings. For his last birthday her brother got a pre-owned Now 75 CD and an IOU note.
Damping down your resentment, you suggest some music CDs, a handful of videos, or maybe some clothes?
She doesn't really know what kind of music he likes, she says, or what sort of videos he watches. Maybe a hoodie.
Exactly how long has she been going out with him?
Oh about a month, so, you know, she really knows what kind of hoodie he'd like.
She nudges you into an upscale men's boutique, where everything on the racks costs at least double her budget. She looks around and sighs heavily.
"Jeez, Mum," she says, glancing at you from under her side-fringe, "I can't afford anything here."
The reason for your inclusion on this expedition has become clear. You immediately wander casually over to the sale rack.
She's not buying Fiachra something on a sale rack, she says indignantly.
Okay, you say, and head for the exit.
With some difficulty you steer her towards a more down-scale emporium featuring large yellow sales signs in the window.
"Nothing here is suitable -- nothing!" she announces desperately, after a quick ruffle through the racks.
No worries, you say, and guide her towards another similar outlet, and then another. Some hours later, she stumbles upon something that might work. It's big, it's grey, it has the right shape of hood and the right kind of meaningless logo, it zips down the middle, and, joy oh joy, has been reduced to €29.99.
The Wolverine is delighted, but less than 48 hours later you are informed that the relationship is off, by, the Wolverine is careful to announce, mutual consent.
You suggest she keep the hoodie for her brother's birthday in six months time.
She is aghast. She wouldn't waste that kind of money on him!
She might wear it herself. Or, eh, she might keep it for the next one.
The next one? Oh. Right.
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