The re-gift: a hypothetical scenario

Say, hypothetically, you’re dating a cop. Say you’re both middle-aged, meaning, you both have life experience and exes.

Say this cop works a beat in a brothel area. His job is to keep an eye on the hookers, and he gets to know some of them. He knows some of them are mothers.

Say this cop is a good man, and the prostitutes like him, even trust him.

Say this cop, who is your boyfriend, buys some inexpensive gifts for the prostitutes on Christmas. Most of the gifts are chocolate or other candy, maybe some ornaments. But for one prostitute, he buys a pendant, the kind you can wear on a chain as a necklace.

The day he wants to gift her the pendant he finds the prostitute dead by suicide. She was very young, brought here illegally und under misleading circumstances which, in her youth and naivete, she only recognized in hindsight.

After he reports the suicide, he offloads the gifts to other prostitutes but keeps the pendant. It’s a religious pendant, a Catholic cross, which he knew would have meant a lot to the dead prostitute who was deeply religious.

Months later, he gifts the pendant to you, the girlfriend, along with the heartbreaking story of what happened, and how it came to be that he still had this pendant in his possession.

How do you react?

Please comment, if you wish, before you read my response below.

My response:

When I read this passage in the book I’m currently reading I stopped reading to reflect on the act of re-gifting the pendant to the girlfriend and considered what I would do if I was the girlfriend.

After I reflected on what I would do, I continued reading and the predictable commentary on what the social expectations from most women would be was clearly illustrated.

It drives the point home once again that I am not normal in that I don’t typically follow the masses. 🙃

The book was written three decades ago, and the scene presented in a European country in the mid-90s. Unsurprisingly, the cop’s girlfriend wasn’t happy with her gift, citing not only that it was cheap (he got the cross at a pawn shop and added the chain from a discount store), but that it was intended for another woman. Despite explaining that he was not involved with the dead prostitute, sexually or romantically, the girlfriend rejected both the gift and the accompanying story.

Picturing myself in that scenario, my reaction was a little different. First of all, I would have been engrossed in the story telling. I would have been deeply affected by the cop’s sentimentalism, his ability to recognize a special quality in a girl, a young woman, who was clearly deeply damaged by whatever circumstances had driven her to sex work. I would have seen his attempt at humanizing her profession by recognizing a quality in her character not required to be acknowledged by her clients. And I would have seen his preparation to give her this small token, the little gift at Christmas, as foreshadowing. He sensed, in some way, that this girl was different from the other sex workers, and that something untimely and final was about to happen.

Would I have worn the necklace originally intended for another woman? That’s an interesting question, and my first instinct is to say probably not. I do know without a doubt that I would have accepted, both the necklace and the story, as a gift. It would have given me a deeper insight into the kind of man he was.

I’m reading books by John Irving who has not only reawakened by desire to pick up writing again, but whose social commentary continues to rattle around in my head. The first book I read from him, in German translation, was The Word According to GARP, as a mere teenager. I picked up the book again in its original language (English) a few years later and felt as if I hadn’t read it before. Time passed between reading it for a third, then subsequent times, and each time I learned something new, saw something different in the story, the composition, the commentary, even the prose. I attribute this to my own growing maturity and the gaining of life experience which lead to introspection, reflection and a desire to put it all into my own words.

What do you think of the re-gifting idea, specifically when there’s a personal story attached?

Thank you for reading my words. ✍️📝

41 thoughts on “The re-gift: a hypothetical scenario

  1. Dude. No. lol I wouldn’t want to know this backstory, and I definitely wouldn’t want the gift. I also wouldn’t want to be the recipient of a re-gift, even if a deceased sex worker wasn’t involved. I like the illusion of believing someone chose a gift just for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would be interested to know how many people that would refuse the necklace either wear or own jewellery handed down through their family. Jewellery that has a story – that has been present at twists and turns of family history. That has seen happiness, sadness, loss, and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s an interesting question. Most people have two things on their mind: the gift was intended for someone else therefore he doesn’t feel for me what he felt for her (which is inaccurate) and, they can’t get past the dead woman being a prostitute.

      I of course know more now that I’ve finished the book, but I thought it was an interesting little experiment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The whole scenario just creeped me out. Why was the guy buying gifts for these women and a special gift for one of them? Did he want to be seen as generous, a protector figure, caring and supportive? I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to give me a gift that he had intended for someone else. The whole story leaves a bad taste. Maybe I am just the jealous type though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, see, I knew someone would say it better than I did. The cop arrived to give her the gift and she was already dead…but the commenters who challenged the gift/re-gift idea said it wasn’t intended for the girlfriend he ultimately gave it to, therefore it’s a creepy factor an/or “you thought about someone else then when she didn’t receive it you gave it to me” meaning “I don’t mean as much to you/I am not worthy as much thought as the person who never got the gift in the first place”. I see it both ways, but still I stand by my answer. I would have accepted the gift and the story.

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  4. Ugh. It’s too attached to something deeply personal, I would feel very uncomfortable and tell the giver to keep it for themselves. I would prefer something that had more sentiment towards me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What an interesting scenario, Claudette. And I love John Irving although I haven’t read one of his books in ages but your post brings them back fondly.

    I’d accept the gift and probably hang it somewhere. It seems in this scenario like a sacred object for many reasons, many that are not visible or comprehendible so it’d be out of respect for that mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit it’s a strange scenario, but I can’t help acknowledging his feelings, the way he saw something in the girl that no one else did, which was protective but platonic. As his girlfriend I would maybe not exactly feel threatened by this, but part of me would be intrigued enough to continue the relationship. Simultaneously, I would keep the necklace and not wear it. I would not reject it though.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with lightslatitudes. Regifting while practical is a way of not caring for the person who you are giving it to. The person went out of his/her/their way to purchase something for you In the 1st place. It seems like a lack of caring on my part.

    As for the cop, the regifting of the pendant is terrible. It wasn’t meant for me and I’d feel like the second fiddle. I would not be impressed with this dude.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I hope that anyone I dated wouldn’t give me, a Jewish atheist, a cross under any circumstances! I don’t mind regifts in general though, if they’re thoughtful. These particular circumstances however seem a bit too creepy…

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  8. I wouldn’t consider that regifting; to me, regifting would be if someone gave an item to the cop as a gift, and then he gave it as a gift to someone else. If I was the girlfriend, I think I would be touched that he was giving me something that was quite meaningful to him, but it would also be a bit weird that he was giving something that had direct personal significance for him to someone (me) that it wouldn’t have direct personal significance for.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Ashley, for pointing out a different take. I too would be touched. I wonder how I might have felt later, or if it would have perpetuated feelings of “how many others” but at the moment of sharing the gift with the story, I would have felt touched to be the recipient of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Like how you brought it back to Irving.
    I’m would not wear the necklace. I cop giving it as a gift to girlfriend a little creepy. I can’t know his thoughts, but I will give the grace that he was acting from a place of compassion with the prostitute. Grief and the expressions of grief don’t always make sense.

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  10. There’s no way I’d want/wear the regifted necklace. There’s no way I want a regift from a boyfriend, no matter what it was. Honestly, I don’t want a regift from anyone…I’d rather not have a gift than get something intended for someone else. He should just donate the necklace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I anticipated your answer. Many people feel this way too. I agree it’s a strange scenario. I left out that he was Dutch, patrolling the Red Light District, and that it was the 1990s. I was in the Red Light District as a tourist during my flight attendant days and can visualize it clearly, the girls in their shop windows. I don’t remember seeing cops protecting them though…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Odd. Not sure I would understand the concept of a cop gifting to the prostitutes in the first place, although I do note the age of this story so maybe that was a thing then. It would be deeply and strongly discouraged today- as in cop might not have a job. I’m mixed on regifting in general. I will regift books, maybe even maybe even home goods type of items, but a personal item like jewelry- no. Especially not intended for a now dead prostitute to my current girlfriend. I find a creepy factor to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While I don’t have a problem with regifting in general…. you give me a waffle iron I don’t need, I give it to a friend who does, it’s the ultimate recycling… this particular circumstance is a little different. Jewelry, no matter the cost, to a girlfriend is a very personal gift. While my heart might melt for the cop with good intentions, I wouldn’t want a cross meant for a dead woman either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s an odd circumstance, I agree. But I just felt so emotional. I responded with other insights in the other comments as well, if you’re interested. For me, the train of thought behind the cop’s actions was very unusual…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Follow u after reading your side of things: I’m suspicious of people in general. My gut instinct would be that perhaps he killed the woman himself. 😬 Even if he said he didn’t. So that probably says more about me than it does about him but I wouldn’t want “evidence” laying around 😂😅 and also the gift giving is bizarre to me. Food I can understand, coats or gifts for kids… Totally. Resource advice, absolutely but gifts to prostitutes is weird.

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    1. When I read the characterizations of this cop as defined by the author, there was no inkling for me that he was either involved with the hookers or the killer of that girl. I left other comments in the comments if you’re interested in a more encompassing view… I do agree it’s an unusual situation.

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  14. I’d give it back to him. I’d thank him for the story and the thoughtful gesture but I’d kindly give it back and tell him that his relationship with me is on another level and he should save the pendant for someone else he finds a long the way who may need it.
    It’s definitely inappropriate but sometimes good people try to give back in whatever way they can and they don’t mean anything by it.
    That said… It would a red flag and I’d tread lightly in the relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I know regifting is a common thing these days but I don’t and won’t do it. I think it’s a lazy way of giving a gift that the gifter really didn’t want to have to buy to begin with. And the part about what would I say about the cop who gave the hooker the pendent? I think he shouldn’t have been buying any of them gifts at all. Seems inappropriate in the line of work (law enforcement). So if I was a girlfriend, it’s not that I wouldn’t wear it because he had originally given it to the hooker, but more because it was regifted which I find regifting tacky and tasteless. This is my opinion and my opinion only and I am well aware that I don’t think like most people either. ( Just throwing that out there before someone grills me.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate honesty and your perspective. 🙂

      I moderate this blog for trolls and assholes, so don’t worry. You may not know this but I’ve blogged here for over a decade and a half even though I took 1500+ posts down recently (I needed a fresh start) and in all that time I’ve only had 2 incidents in the comments which were rude or offensive. That’s it. So go ahead and feel free to be authentically truthful here. Most people who engage with my blog are appreciative of open dialogue.

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