Two Wise(?) Men
BALTHAZAR Hey Melchior, I've been thinking about when we meet this new king. Shouldn't we take a gift or something? MELCHIOR Good idea. But I never know what to get as a gift for babies. Should it be a little tiny outfit? Were you going to knit some little booties? Or maybe get a cuddly toy? BALTHAZAR I'm sure all children would love a cuddly camel, but I was thinking more about them being a king. What do you buy for royalty? In theory, they've already got everything they'll ever need. MELCHIOR Maybe we don't buy something. BALTHAZAR What? Make something? MELCHIOR No. My crafting skills are worse than your knitting. I was thinking of getting a gift that was symbolic. BALTHAZAR Oh. So, more "it's the thought that counts" rather than the size or the price? MELCHIOR Yes. And, no. Well, sort of. We're not going to walk into a palace and be all like "your majesty, congratulations on the birth of your child and heir. Please accept this gift." And then dazzle them with the value of what we give them. Firstly, we can't afford something like that. And, secondly, we don't really want to steal focus. We're supposed to be going to see this great new king, not trying to make it all about our amazing gift. BALTHAZAR Do you think people would do that? MELCHIOR What? BALTHAZAR Make it all about the gift and, in turn, the person giving it rather than the reason for giving it in the first place? MELCHIOR I hope not. But, you know, people always twist things to make it about themselves. BALTHAZAR Yeah, anyway, why are we taking presents? A new-born baby won't know. Is this really for the parents? MELCHIOR Possibly. I hadn't really thought about that. I guess they might keep it until the child is older. But, yes, it's more symbolic really. BALTHAZAR So, it's for show? So other people can see we've given a gift? MELCHIOR I hope not. Look, when we interpreted that conjunction of stars and planets to mean that a great king was born to the Jewish people, and he is a gift to the whole world. It kinda feels like we should take him a gift too. You don't want to not take one, get there, find out everyone else has brought gifts, and then be rushing around to find something. BALTHAZAR Well, at least it shows some thought. Wait, does that mean you didn't appreciate the flowers I got you for your birthday? MELCHIOR I think we're getting off-topic here. BALTHAZAR Oh, but what if no one else brings a present? Will we look like we're sucking up or something? MELCHIOR Of course they'll bring presents. I think there must be loads of people who will have seen what we saw, realized what it meant, and then traveled to see the baby. BALTHAZAR You really think that? You don't think our interest in the stars is a bit...niche? Is it because you know so many other people who are fascinated by astronomy, babies, and foreign countries? MELCHIOR [Pause] Look, even if there aren't lots of other people coming from far away, there must be lots of people locally who will be there. It's not like a great and mighty king is born, and the people don't know and celebrate it. It's not like they'll sneak in a baby, unannounced, round the back when no one is looking. This will be something celebrated, maybe for generations to come. I really don't expect it to start out as something small. BALTHAZAR Ok. But we still don't know what to take. It needs to be symbolic; not too showy-off-ish; but not too deep; it should probably be useful; and it won't hurt if it's memorable. MELCHIOR Why memorable? BALTHAZAR Ok, imagine if two strangers from another land showed up here with gifts. They process in, say something in a foreign language, present their gift, and then leave. What are the chances you remember the gift more than their names? If you even hear their names at all! MELCHIOR Ok. So, memorable. But, I guess it's not about them remembering we came. The purpose of this trip is for us to see the new king. BALTHAZAR And if we get anything else out of it, that's a bonus. MELCHIOR [looks blank] [pause] Soooo, a present for a baby who we don't know, in a place and culture we don't know. I guess we need to stick with the classics. BALTHAZAR I thought you were against a cuddly toy. Or do you mean a rattle? MELCHIOR No, let's focus less on the baby part. What are the classic three gifts? BALTHAZAR I dunno, chocolate? MELCHIOR No. Jewellery, perfume, and smellies. Fairly safe, lots of options, and everyone appreciates them. They've been given as gifts for years, and I'm sure they always will be. BALTHAZAR Ok? MELCHIOR You don't sound convinced. Look, what were the last three gifts you bought your wife? BALTHAZAR A necklace, some perfume--camel number 5--nice stuff, not cheap, and some bath salts. MELCHIOR See. The classic 3. BALTHAZAR Oh. MELCHIOR A necklace is jewellery. Like earrings, bangles, rings, or a broach. There are lots of options for her. Or a chain or a watch for him. And who doesn't want to smell nice? See, perfumes are always appreciated. By those around them too. And everyone likes a nice-smelling room. Whether it's creams or lotions in the bathroom or some potpourri for another room. You can't go wrong. BALTHAZAR You've thought about this a lot. MELCHIOR Of course. Gift giving is important. You don't want to give something people have never heard of and don't know what it is or what it's for. Imagine giving a gift that no one knows what it is or has never heard of it before. BALTHAZAR I guess. But at least it might be memorable. So, what do we get? MELCHIOR Why not all three? Let's be extravagant. If we're going to spend all this time and effort going there, why not get all three? BALTHAZAR But there's only 2 of us. MELCHIOR So? It's not like people are going to think there were three gifts, so there must have been 3 of us. Will they?
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