It was our staff Christmas party and we were playing White Elephant. My number was somewhere near the middle of the pack. Not bad and not great.
I was working in school age care, a pink collar job, so most of the gifts were girly. Boyfriends could easily take home a gift of bath soaps or fragrances. The best approach for these games was to keep expectations low and not get too attached to anything.
The lone male employee brought a nice scarf from an accessory store at the university. The second it was unwrapped I decided I had to have it, breaking every strategy I’d set out for the game. It was a gorgeous teal colour with pink interspersed in the weave. I already had a nice collection of scarves but desperately wanted this one.
As the game drew to a close the scarf was not in my hands. It was somewhere on the other side of the circle. My desire for it had been made clear but it had been stolen from me. I sat looking forlorn with my gift, a consolation prize. I have no memory of what it actually was.
At the end people are free to trade in the hopes of ungrading or getting something they were coveting. The scarf’s new owner took pity on me and agreed to a swap. I was overjoyed. In hindsight I feel selfish. I was fixated and pouty. I got tunnel vision. All for a scarf I’ve never worn.
As soon as I got home the fixation had passed and it went into my scarf drawer with all its new friends and competition. It sunk to the bottom neglected and forgotten.