Man, I hate The Giving Tree. My friend Alice gave me a copy of the book twenty-two years ago. We were both grown up, barely. I thought it was a cute story, great illustrations. I still love the illustrations. But I read it last night to Will and fought back tears the whole time. About the boys someday leaving us and only coming back to ask us for money. And things. And us being so desparate for connection that we give them whatever they want. Now it's cheese sticks and trips to the New Jersey Aquarium, and later it will be down payments and tuition for the grandkids, our limbs, our trunks, and then "We have to be going now. See you at Christmas."
Later John and I were talking and I cried, "We're going to be stumps. Stumps.But we'll be happy, right?" It's like Ham in End Game, the legless guy who lives in the trash can. So here I present:
The Sometimes Giving Tree
Boy: Hey, do you have any money?
Tree: Do you think money grows on trees? I'll let you sell half my apples in the city, if you make apple butter and apple pies with the rest and split it with me.
Boy: I need to build a house. I need lots more money now.
Tree: You didn't get the memo about me having no money? What, didn't you invest ANY of that apple money? Can't you get a job making apple butter and pies?
Boy: I need to get far away from everything. Can I have money for a plane ticket?
Tree: Sigh. I feel like a broken record! As if you know what a record is. Just go back to your wife and tell her you're sorry.
Boy: I'm tired. What can you do for me?
Tree: Why don't you take that blanket and lie under my shade.
Boy: Thanks, that's perfect.
Tree: It is.