We’re chatting about a few personalized present projects that we took on last month over on Young House Love today, so why not keep the gift theme going over here? Clara received lots of thoughtful and wonderful gifts for her birthday, but there’s one in particularly sentimental gift that I just had to share with you guys. It wasn’t from us, or a grandparent, or even one of her playmates. It was from one of my old college buddies. I know, not my first guess either for an elaborately executed and very sweet present for my daughter. But then again, Jamie’s a great guy so I shouldn’t be that surprised.

I’m not sure how to explain this without sounding completely weird. But ultimately it is kinda weird, so maybe it can’t be avoided. I first should explain a bit about my friendship with Jamie. When I was accepted into UVA’s improv comedy group The Whethermen my third year of college, he was the president. He was a year ahead so we only overlapped for one school year before he graduated and headed back home to the west coast, but we became great friends in that time and even though we’ve only seen each other a handful of times since then, he’s become a loyal blog reader too.

That’s not actually him I’m pointing to in this old photo. That’s our other Whether-friend Jordan. Jamie’s the one giving Jordan the reach-around nipple tweak (I warned you that this explanation would be weird). And yes, I used to wear glasses (now contacts) and I used to get bad haircuts (before Sherry entered my life). The shirts we’re wearing are our official Whethermen performance shirts. They’re emblazoned (and by emblazoned I mean crudely stamp-painted) with our “brand names.” At the end of each new Whethermen’s first semester, they’re given a brand name as part of their official induction into the group. Jordan was “Steinway” because he played the piano. I was “Yahoo!” because, as Jamie explained as he presented it to me, I worked at the school’s Information Desk and seemed “to know everyone.” It was a strange, fun tradition that the group started long before any of us were in it.

But back to Clara’s present. A box arrived with a small wrapped gift and this sheet of paper.

Jamie immediately earned “wow” points for including a QR code with his gift. Consider me impressed. The code linked to a YouTube video (which, for sentimental reasons, I’ll keep just between us) where Jamie spoke about what he felt Clara meant to him, us, and the blogosphere. Again, he’s earning both execution and sentiment points.

At the end of the video, he gave us permission to unwrap the present. This is what we found.

Her own Whethermen shirt! And to think she earned one without even having to audition…

Jamie chose the brand name Gorilla Glue not just for it’s ties to DIY, but also because he sees Clara as “a strong bond for our family” and a “force that brings people together” on the Internet too. It also helped that she has a things for monkeys.

Now I don’t think Clara will be doing any improv comedy shows anytime soon, but she’s already putting the shirt to good use. We had fun identifying every letter on it and then counting how many Gs and Ls we could find.

 We had a bit of fun trying to say Gorilla Glue too, though it probably could still use some work. Perhaps Jamie, now a Speech Pathologist, could come in handy.

We realize Clara doesn’t get why this shirt is so meaningful but I, for one, am very touched by it. So a big thanks to Jamie for the time and thought that went into this very special gift. Now can Clara get a suggestion from the audience? I need an occupation, a fictional character, and a famous movie quote for her next improv act. Go!





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