At Christmas time M went back to the Ivory Coast for a one month holiday. It was a big one, the first time he'd been back since he left, the first time he was taking his newish wife and child to see his family, something most people who read this can relate to.
We were going to miss him at work as he's one of the absolute best people I have, but I felt pleased for him and genuinely wished him bon voyage. Which was handy, as they speak French over there and the only other French I know are random words found on menus and in supermarkets.
He went off, we worked on and all was sweet.
Then, he came back.
Owl was happy, Piglet was happy and even Eeyore, usually the most miserable of them all, smiled a little bit.
Everyone was happy to see M back at work. There were slaps on the back, smiles, proper handshakes and a good few of those trendy handshakes that black people favour. I did the boss thing and asked him how the holiday was, making all the right noises, some even at the right time.
And then M told me that he'd bought a little present for me. I felt sincerely touched, though not literally touched, as he presented me with a carrier bag with something inside it.
I opened the bag. I took out the present.
You know when you get a gift from someone and you have to fake appreciation, when you have to pretend that it's a thing you were only thinking about buying last Tuesday, perhaps even Wednesday, when the reality is totally different? Well that's quite easy isn't it? We all do it now and again, it's part of life. Although come to think of it I was recently told that I wasn't good at it when in actual fact I really did like the presents in question. Anyhow, I digress.
What I meant was that this was one of those times when a chap is tested, when the mettle is really pushed to its outer limits, when I'm not sure if my face could portray something that was different to what was going on in my head.
For I held the present in my hand and stared, wondering what exactly had gone through M's head when he'd decided to give me the thing.
What was it?
A three pack of white vests, large.
I don't wear vests.
If I did, they wouldn't be large and, as one of my partners said to me when I showed him later, one man never gives another man underwear anyhow.
Strange.I'll probably have to give them to someone as a present.