Is my friend trying to surreptitiously decline a gift?
May 12, 2012 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Question for the "guess culture" people: If a friend wants to leave a gift I gave her behind at my house for a year, is that likely to be her way of saying she doesn't really want it? Does that mean I can treat the gift as mine?

I got a free brand new jacket by a very expensive brand. It's a very nice jacket and I would have happily kept it, but my friend is a HUGE fan of that brand. Just about everything she buys is that brand. She drools over their website regularly. She had specifically said she liked that jacket on the website. She was visiting this week from Europe (to Australia) and I gave her the jacket as a gift. She knows it was free to me, and was surprised I didn't want to keep it for myself. I told her it wasn't a colour I wear (kind of true, although it's a nice enough jacket that I would happily wear it even though I wouldn't have chosen that colour for myself). I'm pretty sure she believed me that I really didn't want to keep it, so I don't think her leaving it behind is about her trying to give it back to me because she thinks I regret giving it to her or anything.

She seemed to be thrilled, and she wore it just about every day while she was here. But when she was packing up to leave she said she couldn't fit it in her bag, and that she would leave it here and take it "next time she visits". We've already established that the next visit will be over a year from now. Also, she wasn't trying very hard to take it with her. She had a full carry-on bag, but it's winter, and she wasn't wearing a jacket, so if she really wanted to take it, she could have worn it, and then put it in the overhead luggage compartment on the plane, or carried it over her arm, or whatever.

Anyway, this friend is very guess-culture-y, and I am too, to a lesser extent. She communicates a lot through hints and actions rather than explicit statements, and often if you ask her outright about whether she is hinting about something, she will deny it - I guess to try to save face. I'm almost 100% sure that I won't get a straight answer from her if I ask her about this. She will try to guess which outcome I want (her appreciating the gift vs me keeping the jacket) and will tell me what I want to hear, then seethe about it in private.

So, my question is, if you are also this sort of hint-dropping person, do you think leaving the jacket behind was equivalent to saying she doesn't want it? Should I really store it for her for 14 months? Or can I call it mine and just wear it, and assume she won't want it back when she returns? I'm not offended either way; I just want to make use of the jacket if she won't; or keep it nicely for her if she really IS likely to want it back.
posted by lollusc to Human Relations (48 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would it be possible to offer to ship it to her and see what she says? Or just flat-out ship it to her and just tell her you did it, if you don't want to mess around with going back and forth about it.
posted by Aquifer at 7:56 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think, as a Guess person, that the route which takes you cleanly and easily to "I am not wondering anymore" land is to ship it to her and forget about it.
posted by SMPA at 7:58 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but honestly, I don't want to ship it to her. Shipping a jacket from here to Europe is going to cost me about $30. I don't want to spend $30 to give her a gift that she might not even want.
posted by lollusc at 8:04 PM on May 12, 2012

I think that if she wanted the jacket she would have taken it. If someone gave me a jacket I really liked, I would figure out a way to wear it on the plane, etc. I only ever leave gifts behind that are really meh. (Wearing it every day when she was visiting could just be a "guess" person being polite.)

I think it'd be ok to wear it. There's a ~20% chance that she'll ask for it when she comes next year, in which case you can give it to her then; if she really did love it, she'll love it slightly worn too.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:10 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Start wearing the jacket and never mention it to her again. She's guess-culture. She won't ask about it next time she visits.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [8 favorites]

If I did this, it'd be because I liked it but not enough to take it or deal with it at home. Especially because I have a lot of clothes. If I were you, I'd wear it occasionally and then offer it to her when she comes back.
posted by amodelcitizen at 8:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Take her word for it. Wear for a year and if she still wants it afterwards let her keep it.
posted by Bonzai at 8:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

In general, asking strangers on the internet to help you figure out guess culture is an exercise in futility because there really isn't such a thing as a single unified "guess culture". The closest equivalent in actual sociology is "high-context", meaning the specific speech acts mean very little outside the context of this person's situation and your relationship with her. So, if you with all your knowledge of this person can't figure it out, then it's unlikely I'm going to know any better.

But this is the internet, so I won't let that stop me from speculating wildly.

lollusc: "I got a free brand new jacket by a very expensive brand."

lollusc: "She seemed to be thrilled, and she wore it just about every day while she was here. But when she was packing up to leave she said she couldn't fit it in her bag, and that she would leave it here and take it "next time she visits"."

Can you imagine any reason she might not want to wear it at home? For example, when you say this is a very expensive brand, is it expensive enough to raise eyebrows if she were seen wearing it?

I think if you offer to ship it to her, she will beg you not to inconvenience yourself. But given what you've said about how much she likes this brand and how she's commented on this specific jacket, I think if you were to ship it to her, she would wear it.

Or else she would quietly make it disappear.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:20 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm a guesser, and I totally agree with fingersandtoes - if I loved it, I would get it on the damn plane. You can always find a way.

Just wear it and enjoy it. Offer it to her again when she visits next year, if you want. Or not.
posted by Miko at 8:29 PM on May 12, 2012

Born and raised in "guess culture" (converted to "ask" as an adult). My take on this is that your friend loves the jacket, but is uncomfortable taking such an extravagant gift (doesn't matter that you got it free) that you might, in fact, want. Shipping it to her would be ideal, but I see that's not an option you want to pursue.

You could 1) store it, unworn, until her next visit in order to reinforce the notion that you consider the jacket to be hers, but that won't necessarily make a difference to her when she's packing to leave after the next visit. 2) wear it in the meantime, which might make appear that you didn't really want to give it away in the first place.

Or, you could take this opportunity to move over to the "ask culture", perhaps by showing her this question, including the link to the discussion re guess vs ask. Believe me, it is SO worth the effort to cross to the other side.
posted by she's not there at 8:30 PM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Don't ship it to her - if she wanted it, she would have taken it, or asked you to ship it.

I would also treat the gift as mine at this point, if it's a non consumable. If you think the jacket will look good with an outfit, wear it.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:32 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask her if you can wear the jacket. She will probably say yes.
I think she would have taken it unless it was some sort of huge ankle-length down coat... but even then I would assume she would leave money for you and ask you to ship it.
Many times I have shipped stuff that I couldn't or didnt want to fly with.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:33 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

(oh - but do be prepared to give it to her if she asks)
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:33 PM on May 12, 2012

In the context of guess-culture: While I understand $30 is not a small chunk of change, it is not a lot to spend on a gift for a friend that you received for free & by all indications is something she likes (she indicated she liked this exact jacket before you gave it to her, it's her favorite brand, she wore it every day while visiting, etc). Your unwillingness to ship it sounds to me like you want to keep the jacket for yourself, and given how you have said you would have gladly kept it, I wonder if you offered it to her because you thought you should, not because you genuinely wanted to part with it. It is hard to say why she left it behind, but she said she still wanted it, so keep it for her or ship it. It's a gift, you can't really take it back unless the recipient actually refuses it.
posted by katemcd at 8:33 PM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm a guesser, and while I could see myself leaving behind a beloved gift if it was going to be impractical to transport it, I'd probably ask my friend if she could ship it to me (and offer to pay shipping costs etc). Agreeing that you can probably wear it, although the wuss in me says maybe call her to clarify.
posted by agress at 8:36 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am a native Guess speaker. The problem is that there are many dialects. (That's why it's so worth it to switch from Guess to English, or any other language used directly.) But in mine, "you should wear it" means "I don't want it," whereas what she did meant she wasn't sure she could accept such an extravagant gift. I actually came to that conclusion before seeing "she's not there"'s comment, so there's a growing consensus here. I'd try to ship it, and she'll say "don't go to all that trouble," and you say, "no, I really want you to have it," and she'll likely offer to at least pay you back for shipping. Go with something like "you don't have to, but if you insist..." to actually get the money. :)
posted by salvia at 8:40 PM on May 12, 2012

Stop with the ask/guess/hints nonsense. You gave her the item, it's hers, she's already told you how she'd like to handle it. If that's okay with you, problem solved. If it's not, tell her it's not and suggest alternatives that are okay with you. She's your friend -- talk to her.
posted by sageleaf at 8:40 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

My take on this is that your friend loves the jacket, but is uncomfortable taking such an extravagant gift (doesn't matter that you got it free) that you might, in fact, want.

If I were your friend, this would be the explanation for my actions.

Of course, I'm not your friend. So... Who knows.
posted by meese at 8:44 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm going to guess (heh) that she really does love the jacket and appreciates your gift, but because she knows you like it, and it's jacket weather for you, she's thinking you can share it as seasonally appropriate until she gets back.

That's what I, a guesser, would be thinking, especially if I had a full suitcase.
posted by mgar at 8:48 PM on May 12, 2012

Oh god, I thought I might get a consensus here, but the "uncomfortable with such an extravagant gift" angle is one that hadn't occurred to me.

I think I'm just going to ship it to her.

In the context of guess-culture: While I understand $30 is not a small chunk of change, it is not a lot to spend on a gift for a friend that you received for free & by all indications is something she likes

This is true. My only hesitation was that maybe leaving it behind is an indication that it is NOT something she likes. At the moment I don't feel offended with her rejecting the gift because it didn't cost me anything to give. If I go to the effort of packing it and taking it to the post office and spend money on sending it, I am more invested in the gift, and I will feel (irrationally, I know) annoyed if I find out later that she gave it away, donated it, or that it just sits in her closet unworn.

But I think it's the simplest solution.
posted by lollusc at 8:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

d. z. wang speaks the truth about asking random internet folks for help. But as someone who is a member of the guess culture, with all the hang-ups about gifts and generosity that entails, here's my perspective.

[She] was surprised I didn't want to keep it for's a nice enough jacket that I would happily wear it even though I wouldn't have chosen that colour for myself.

This is pretty ambivalent phrasing, and I think your friend knows or senses it. Imagine if you had bought the jacket for her -- she'd know that you specifically wanted her to have it because, well, you bought it. Since you got it for free, she has to guess harhar whether you genuinely want her to have it, you are only offering it to her because you feel obligated, or because she didn't bring a jacket on the trip(?), etc.

If it's a sincere gift, then pay the $30 to ship it to her, without asking beforehand (assuming that $30 isn't going to put you into the poorhouse). Include a nice note saying "this looked so good on you, and I didn't want you to have to wait a whole year to wear it again." Then she will have a jacket she (almost certainly) likes, and it won't come with worry-inducing strings attached (from her POV). If you want to not pay the $30 for whatever reason, salvia has a good script.

On preview: she said she likes this exact jacket. I don't think you need to be worried about her giving it away or otherwise not liking it. :)
posted by dendrochronologizer at 8:58 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

So, if you with all your knowledge of this person can't figure it out, then it's unlikely I'm going to know any better.

Well, I suppose I was asking because I was pretty sure I HAD figured it out, but wanted to confirm my suspicions. My best guess (ha!) was that she didn't really want it for some reason. The reason I found it a little difficult to be certain is that even though I am a guess-y person, there is no scenario where I would leave a gift behind at the giver's house, because it would seem to me to be a bit rude. I would take it even if I didn't like it and would make it disappear later. That's why I was trying to figure out if there could be another angle on it.

So I wanted input from anyone who WOULD ever do that sort of thing, and quite a few people here have given scenarios in which they would. Mostly it seems people would do that if they didn't really like the gift, but then there's those who would do it if they were uncomfortable accepting the gift because it was too extravagant, and that seems to me more likely maybe. Certainly I'm happy to bet $30 on the possibility :)

(On preview, she did bring a jacket on this trip; I didn't feel obliged to give it to her; and I didn't use that phrasing about happily wearing it myself to her, obviously. I think the exact words were, "Hey, I got this jacket [background to why it was free] and I know how much you love this brand, so I want you to have it." "Oh, I couldn't possibly! Don't you want it?" "No, I don't wear this colour, but I know you do." "Well, in that case, I'd love it! Thank you so much!")
posted by lollusc at 9:06 PM on May 12, 2012

I think if she had wanted it, she would've taken it with her.

She wore it non-stop when she was there and has now left it there with you - so know you can wear it to your hearts content, and she might wear it when she comes back again.

You guys are sharing it.
posted by mleigh at 9:11 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

She already owns the jacket. She loves the jacket as reported, didn't bring it on her visit to you, and then could not stand to disappoint you when you gave her the same jacket as a gift, so she didn't tell you. She suspects that you might also love the jacket, so she's letting you keep it, with a lame excuse to spare your feelings.

I am a native Guesser and this is my best guess, but it is just a guess.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:26 PM on May 12, 2012 [10 favorites]

The first thing I thought of when I read your question was that she wanted you to enjoy the jacket because she felt bad taking such a nice gift.

Is your friend from an Asian culture by any chance? If so, the tradition is definitely to refuse gifts several times, even ones you really like (out of politeness). Even if she's not Asian, she may have picked up that principle somewhere.
posted by bearette at 9:32 PM on May 12, 2012

I think she felt like she'd be taking something of YOURS, something that she'd merely been borrowing. That's a lot different than accepting an outright gift. I think she does want it and will be happy to wear it again if given a chance.
posted by hermitosis at 9:35 PM on May 12, 2012

I would assume (as you did initially) that if she didn't take it, then she didn't want it that badly.
posted by bquarters at 9:47 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't really know what she is thinking, because while I am a guess culture person, I am also a "leaving a gift behind is really rude" person. This to me, would seem like some peculiar form of torture, rejecting the gift yet not actually saying she does not want it, so you are left feeling like you can't wear and enjoy it because she didn't explicitly say she didn't want it. While you say that you won't get a straight answer, honestly I would push for a resolution on this, because I think she is leaving you in a crappy situation and is being really rude.
posted by Joh at 10:12 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't ship it to her. She left the jacket for a reason, it was not a mistake. Whatever that reason is is actually unimportant, and also none if your business! Keep the jacket. Wear it if you like, don't stain or otherwise sully it, and offer it up for her a she requested when she returns! Easy peasy. No need to be a saint and ship it to her. you run the risk of this turning into a ridiculous back and forth of inscrutable and exasperating behavior, trying to out nice the other in the name of affection!
posted by pazazygeek at 10:20 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

There are some potential variables at play here. I have refused gifts before (even from my parents/best friends) because I didn't want to be seen as receiving something too charitable. That is usually irrational on my part, but it was I did. I would ask myself if the jacket is something that would be outside of my friend's normal socio-economic purchasing power, and if so, that might come into play.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:26 PM on May 12, 2012

Actions speak louder than words. You can speculate all you want on the reasons why, but the simple fact is, she could have taken it with her and chose not to. It was a conscious decision. For whatever reason, took extravagant, has one already at home, hates it, or anything in between, she does not want the jacket. Wear it in good health. Consider it her gift back to you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:44 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Leaving it behind is kind of like eyeing the last piece of pie in the tray for a long, long time, but then scooping it up until the end of the night after everyone else has had ample opportunity to take it. You can't just announce "who wants the last piece of pie?!" because the correct answer to that question is obviously "you do!" So, you can't just ask that; it's tantamount to asking for the pie itself. Someone else might want it more than you do but let you have it to be polite. You only want the pie if everybody else truly does not. Likewise, saying "are you sure you don't want the jacket?" is like saying "I really really DO want this jacket," so assuming you operated under guess culture, she would not get a real answer. Leaving it behind is more of a real test of whether you really want to give it away. Is my guess.
posted by salvia at 11:01 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

My take on this is that your friend loves the jacket, but is uncomfortable taking such an extravagant gift (doesn't matter that you got it free)

This was my first thought as well. Not even with a caveat of "maybe she thought you kinda wanted it," more like "what on earth do I say to explain where I got this jacket and what this gift means. But what are they're gonna assume...but why do I care? Oh, wait, shit, DOES it mean something that I'm not realizing, how do I ask my friend about THAT? Wait, wait, maybe I'm being an idiot and overthinking this? Crap, this is all so awkward, maybe I'll just put it on hold and figure out WTF is wrong with me in the meantime."

So, I'd bite the bullet and spend probably an inordinate amount of time composing a simple note asking if it would be okay if you sent her the jacket, reiterating the spirit in which you want to give her this gift but also giving her a graceful way out. You can say something like:
Hey, I was confused that you left the jacket behind, because I know how much you love [brand] and you seemed to like the it. I asked some acquaintances, who raised some speculations that hadn't occurred to me, like maybe you didn't really like it, or even already have it, or feel weird accepting it as a gift, or thought that I really wanted to keep it, or something. Look, if you really do like it, and can wear it in good faith, let me ship it to you, and i don't care if you tell people you bought it a thrift store or won it in a contest, or that I scored it free and gave it to you because I knew you'd enjoy it waaay more than I would. If you really don't want it, for whatever reason, just let me know that you'd rather not have it -- you don't even have to tell me why -- and I'll drop the subject.
posted by desuetude at 11:29 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't ship it to her if I were you. It goes against her expressed wishes which were that she'll get it next time she visits. I don't think it's the thing about her being uncomfortable with such an extravagant gift because she did wear it while she was visiting you and if she hadn't felt comfortable accepting it she wouldn't have done so. She probably realized while she was wearing it that she didn't like it, it didn't suit her, etc.

If you force her to have the jacket now by shipping it to her, she'll be forced to pretend that she's thrilled you did so, she'll feel guilty for not wearing it, etc. That jacket will become an albatross around her neck.

Just wear it until her next visit and then ask her again if she wants to take it away with her. If you don't feel comfortable with that, email her and say "hey, do you mind if I wear the jacket until you come back to pick it up?"

This "guess" stuff sounds exhausting and I wouldn't be pandering to it to such an extent. You gave her every opportunity to take the jacket, she didn't, now do what you want to do which is to wear it, not to ship it.
posted by hazyjane at 11:56 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Guess culture is unique for the subtleties of your relationship so we at a distance can't tell you all that much. The giving and taking of the jacket (or not taking of it) is a statement in the context of who you are to each other, which we can't really see from here. Maybe she doesn't want to feel that intimate with you, or that indebted. Maybe she likes it in the context of her relationship with you but it wouldn't be something she'd wear in the context of her life at home. Maybe she doesn't want to explain to (whoever) why you would give her a jacket like that. The possibilities are endless. Since you are asking about wearing it, you have some sort of attachment to this jacket and she must know that, which also enters into it.

So, what to do? What ever you do, it will be a statement about your relationship in the already existing context. Are you usually the more powerful of the two of you? Will you be forcing it on her, thwarting her (possibly conflicted) wishes, or bestowing a great gift with your power? Are you the less powerful? Will you be buying her love, warding off her potential disinterest, marking your territory? Only you can figure stuff like this out. Guess culture isn't a secret code with a translation key.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:01 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe it was the wrong size.

Too late, but the correct ask culture response was to simply state that you don't want to store her clothing for a whole year and hand the problem back to her.
posted by anaelith at 3:46 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

My take on it is that people don't leave things indefinitely with someone else if it's something that they want. Who would do that? Hell, when my family occasionally mis-steps with presents and gives me something I either hate, or have no use for whatsoever, I still find a fricking way to take that weird shit on the plane back home with me.

Take the jacket, wear it, love it. If your friend asks about it when you next meet, I'll buy you a coke. She would not expect you to send it to her - you offered to give an awesome, presumably expensive jacket for free, and like it wasn't even a birthday or something. Why would she then expect you to pay, when it could have easily been carried on the plane (anyone who flies frequently, knows that, truly, if you want something on the plane, you need never go without)? Madness, I say, unadulterated madness. Keep that $30, and buy a scarf to go with the jacket!
posted by smoke at 4:02 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not a fan of the Ask versus Guess culture categorisation. It's a useful heuristic for quick categorisations but a bit too blunt an instrument, turning a nuanced continuum into bipolar categories.

As far as the jacket goes, there's may other options besides ask/guess. She could be a "this or that" versus a "both" person. Rather the. "either you have it or I have it", she may see that she enjoyed it for a while, and now it's your turn.

Or perhaps you really do love the coat, and she picked up on that, seeing through your fib of "it's not the right colour". In this case, she appreciated you offering it, but may feel guity taking it, as she knows how much you like it.

My first response was to mail the coat as well and it's telling when you say you're not going to spend $30 to mail something you're not sure that she wants.

Routinely at Christmas, I mail packages of British sweets back to California. Often the shipping bill matches or exceeds the value of the item itself. But gifts are symbols aren't they? When someone opens a package of £15 sweets from Harrods (that cost £15 to ship), there are many messages. It's something they like from another place, it's something from the place I live. I took the time and the expense to send it to them. In a way, we are sharing over distance.

If I asked them, they would say I was cray, spending that much money to push some cookies are the globe. That's why I dont ask them. I know the answer, but I want them to have it. I want to create that shared experience and reinforce the bond.

And I'm not the only one. Lots of people ship cookies around the world. The girl scouts would do well to team up with FedEx.

In your case, the disconnect I felt was 1) you want her to have the coat, 2) you see her rarely, 3) you do not want to spend $30. So in a way, we know the value of you creating this experience for her. It's less than $30.

If that's true, keep the coat and go about your life. If that's not true, ship the coat, knowing regardless of whether she wears it or not, she'll hear what you're saying, which is "I love you".
posted by nickrussell at 4:08 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

For whatever reason (too extravagant, decided it doesn't flatter her, doesn't like that particular shade of that color, she already owns it, etc), she didn't want to accept the gift. There's no way she's going to want it a year from now. Hell, there's no way she's going to even remember the jacket exists a year from now. Seriously. A year?? Don't mail it. Don't ask about it again. Wear the jacket yourself; it's your jacket now.
posted by whitelily at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2012

I think you can just call it yours. But, also, why can't you just be honest with her about it."Hey, I noticed you left the jacket behind. I really also love the jacket and happily wear it if you don't think you'll be needing it anytime soon." And just see what she says. Chances are she'll say "Yeah, go for it!" and then it's a done deal. If she does say she really wants it, you can bring up shipping or just do it as a gift, or save it for her for next time.
posted by Rocket26 at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2012

This ridiculous ask/guess culture stuff is a red herring. You know your friend better than random strangers on the internet. If she won't tell you her reasons for making this request, why not just do it? What do you have to lose by doing what she wants?
posted by Lobster Garden at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2012

This is the problem with guess-culture. People aren't that good at guessing.

FWIW, I think your interpretation of "Maybe she doesn't really want it, and means for me to have it" smacks of wishful thinking and second thoughts on your part about giving away something you rather liked.

Personally I tend to be on the polite side about gifts, and even if I didn't like one I probably wouldn't say so outright. But nor would I enthuse about it and wear it every day.

And if I left it with you for a year and meant for you to feel free to wear it, I would definitely tell you so. I'd feel the need to say so because I would not expect anyone to ever presume something like that is ok unless I had explicitly told them so.
posted by philipy at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Something to consider: a lot of this is going to come down to what story you choose to tell yourself.

For example, if you send her the jacket, you don't have a way of knowing that she's given away the jacket, or that she wears it every day. You're thousands of miles apart from her: your material position is the same regardless of what's happening. So just tell yourself she loves it, and you're done.

You get to write this particular story in your head for the most part. Write it in whatever way is easiest to believe and most comfortable to live in.
posted by SMPA at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2012

Wear it for the year or so until she comes back to visit. If she asks for the jacket, then give it to her. But otherwise, take it, it's now yours.
posted by livinglearning at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2012

OMG just mail her the jacket already! Please!

Obviously your friend wants the jacket -- it's her favourite brand, she told you she liked it on the site, she wore it all trip. If she did not want it, she would have taken it on the plane just to be polite. Anybody would -- you're quite right that it's mildly rude to leave it behind, especially if it's obvious it could've gone with her. Therefore, the only reason she would leave it behind, given that she's (presumably) not normally rude, is because she is trying to be even MORE polite.

She thinks you want it, or it's possible you want it. She thinks you offered it to her despite wanting it, because you knew she wanted it even more, and felt obligated to give it to her.

The only way to prove you mean it --that it's a gift, for her to keep-- is to mail it to her. She is hoping you will. Don't ask first, because then she'll feel compelled to keep playing this ridiculous game. Just do it.
posted by Susan PG at 10:05 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

My very first thought was "she already owns this exact jacket and didn't want to tell you." That's why she wore it every day but doesn't want to take it home. My best guess, anyway.
posted by KathrynT at 11:33 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I will feel (irrationally, I know) annoyed if I find out later that she gave it away, donated it, or that it just sits in her closet unworn.

How would you ever find out such a thing? Given the description you provide of the two of you, if she did donate it etc., she's not likely to mention it, and I get the impression you're not likely to ask about it if she doesn't bring it up first.

Send it to her, don't bring it up again if she doesn't, and let yourself believe that she uses it regularly. One of the advantages of Guess culture is that it's better at that whole "polite fiction" thing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:33 PM on May 14, 2012

This thread hurt my brain.

If it really is the kind of double triple 'whatever' think level of deception involved in whether you thought she'd want it, she made it look like she didn't want it so you could have it, but you knew she might make it look like she didn't want it because she really does want it, for me, the best possible choice of action would be to burn the jacket, and dance cathartically in the ashes.

I think you have to assume that she didn't want it, because if you assume the other possible choices, they come with such extra levels of double-cross and deception, that one day, regardless of the choice you make here, you will not be friends with this person.
My basis for this is, if establishing whether she wants a jacket or not is such a land-mine like labyrinth inquiry, it doesn't matter if you manage to not set it off this time. One day, even if you tip-toe around her socially, there is only so much effort and telepathy you can have, and you will set her off, and voila, you won't be friends.

Therefore,assume she is the nice, sane kind of person you would want as a longer term friend, and that she is not coming up with machiavellian plots, and just doesn't want the jacket.
posted by Elysum at 11:02 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

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