Performative Gifting

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is…

Last night, my friend John led us through a class on performative gifting.

Performative gifting is the process of getting to know a friend better, knowing what makes them feel safety, desire, & comfort in their life so that you can subsequently perform a story that is customized entirely for them.

My giftee was my friend Ben and what follows below is the ghost story I performed for him inspired by his own routines.

At night, like he does every night, Ben flips through the pages of Gertrude Stein’s “The World is Round,” reading about Rose, a petulant and bossy young girl who play tug of war with the world evermore entitlement. She is curious and wonders about everything. Would she still be Rose if she went by any other name?

During the story, she carves, looping, around the trunk of a tree, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is…”

As Ben’s eyelids grow heavy, he sets the book on his nightstand and looks to the painting hung across from his bed. A man with his mind exploding with ideas and dreams.

Ben dreams of the tree, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is..” looping through his mind.

Later that week, Ben goes to his neighborhood bar with his friend D. They have a good time, and he meets a girl.

Her name is Rose.

She is beautiful and sarcastic and playful. They flirt for hours until she suddenly gets up and leaves. She says she has to go home and runs out of the bar. Needing to make sure he doesn’t lose her, he chases her down the street. He sees her take a right and disappear into a building.

But which house is it? In this neighborhood, there are doors upon doors on every building. He slows down, but is not disheartened. He comes upon a house with a tree in front. He has never noticed this tree, but it feels so familiar. He walks up the steps and approaches the door. He knocks.

An old woman answers. “May I help you?”

“I’m looking for a girl I saw come through here. She is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen! Her name is Rose, have you seen her?”

“Rose? My name is Gertrude.”

“…”

“I had a daughter named Rose… but she’s been dead for ten years! I am sorry.”

She closes the door gently and he descends the steps. Walking home, he knows he needs to see her again. But how could it be possible? He thinks and he walks and he thinks and he walks until he gets home.

He paces to his bed, wondering and wanting more Rose.

He lays down and he picks up Gertrude Stein’s book, “The World is Round” and reads of a girl named Rose.

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is..”

As his eyelids grow heavy, he sets the book on his nightstand and looks to the painting hung across from his bed. A man with his mind exploding with ideas and dreams.

Ben dreams of Rose carving her tree.

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is..”

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store