Friday, July 16, 2010

Advice from my nephew

An expert in his field

He calls me “uncle,” so I call him “nephew.” He currently lives on the East Coast, so it's been quite a while since I've seen him or his father (who many years ago was a student of mine). In need of some information, I dropped the boy a note via e-mail:
From: Zeno Ferox
To: Ian Rhys
Sent: Fri, July 9, 2010 8:44:56 PM
Subject: Birthday gift list

Hi, Ian. I know someone who is turning 11 years old next month and I was wondering what a good birthday present would be. If you were choosing a nice gift for an 11-year-old boy, what do you think he might like?

I welcome your suggestions, as I regard you as an expert in this field.


Uncle Zeno
Ian is not normally a prompt correspondent, but my missive evidently touched a responsive chord. A reply was soon in my in-box:
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 05:44:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ian Rhys
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list
To: Zeno Ferox

Well I actually think it depends on what the boy's charechtoristics are. E-mail me his charechtoristics. okay?
Ian has rather creative spelling, but his response was an entirely reasonable one. I hastened to provide the requested information on the birthday boy's “charechtoristics”:
From: Zeno Ferox
To: Ian Rhys
Sent: Sat, July 10, 2010 9:48:58 AM
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list

Good point, Ian. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the boy in question in quite a while, so I'll have to go from memory. I seem to recall that he was very smart. He was interested in lots of different things and very good at reading and math. Good sense of humor, too.

I realize that's not very specific, but perhaps that's enough for you to work with. Any ideas?

Uncle Zeno
Despite the paucity of specifics in my message, it was apparently enough to inspire some recommendations from my consultant:
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 15:21:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ian Rhys
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list
To: Zeno Ferox

Well if hes smart I guess he might like these items:

Redwall: Bellmaker

Redwall: Outcast


Star wars Lego set

I think any of these would work for a boy like that.

Tell me if you think he will like one of these.........

- Ian
This was exceedingly helpful, but now it was my turn to ask for some characteristics:
From: Zeno Ferox
To: Ian Rhys
Sent: Sat, July 10, 2010 6:36:03 PM
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list

Why, yes, as a matter of fact. I think he might like all of the items you mentioned. Of course, if I were to choose to give him a Star Wars Lego set I would have the difficulty of picking which one to send him. There are many, many choices. Perhaps an intelligent young man such as yourself might offer me some additional guidance?


Uncle Zeno
He was clearly poised to answer. I soon had the specifics I had requested:
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 15:43:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ian Rhys
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list
To: Zeno Ferox

this is the full name that I found for it:

LEGO 8086 Star Wars Trifighter Droid

I think he will like this one...

If you cant remember the name then print it out and bring it to the store

A good store would be toys are us or a lego store, oh and wallmart maybe..

If its too much just get any type of star wars lego set.

He will like it..

- Ian
He seems to have no doubt in the matter (even if he's concerned that doddering old Uncle Zeno might forget the details). Who am I to question his judgment concerning the birthday presents currently favored by 11-year-old boys? I dispatched a note of thanks:
From: Zeno Ferox
To: Ian Rhys
Sent: Sat, July 10, 2010 9:20:39 PM
Subject: Re: Birthday gift list

I consider your advice definitive in this matter and am confident that you are correct about the birthday boy's appreciation of the gift. Thank you exceedingly for your kind counsel.

Lots of love from your Uncle Zeno
You will appreciate how cleverly I have outsmarted the little rascal and gotten so much information out of him. Ian sure is going to be surprised when he receives a Star Wars Droid Tri-Fighter Lego set and a couple of Redwall books for his 11th birthday from his sly Uncle Zeno.


The Ridger, FCD said...

Unless of course the reason for his confidence is that he already has them...

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

You are (not surprisingly) better at dealing with 11-year-olds than I would be.

I'd not've been able to resist the urge to use "characteristics" in a sentence somewhere.

Which is all the more embarrassing since I'm much in favour of a bottom-up spelling reform.

Anonymous said...

Redwall? The boy has excellent taste. Good childhood memories, there...

Karen said...

Alas, it won't work next year, Zeno. Or else he'll figure it out and play along, in which case it won't be a surprise. But kudos for getting it sorted out for at least one year.

I never could shop successfully for nieces and nephews in that age range, at least until they got smart and started keeping wishlists on Now, at least if I'm getting a duplicate of the Right Thing, Mom and Dad can return it for the next best Right Thing. And I don't have to suffer the embarrassment of being an out-of-it aunt and getting the Wrong Thing.

Zeno said...

I don't expect him to be surprised at all. I'm fairly certain he was happily feeding me his wish list in the expectation that I would follow his lead and give him exactly what he wants for his birthday. He's a clever boy who was playing along.

That Other Mike said...

Redwall? Blimey, I used to read that when I was about 8 or so; I can't believe that it's still around and still liked by kids.