No, we shan't be discussing the American Psychosomatic Society, today (although, come to think of it, that would be a pretty good title for that topic as well). Instead, we shall be discussing gifts, specifically, gifts exchanged between heads of state.
If you haven't already heard, President Obama and Queen Elizabeth II exchanged gifts yesterday at Buckingham Palace. The President presented Her Majesty with an iPod loaded with show tunes, as well as a songbook signed by Richard Rodgers. Now, YNSHC thinks that sounds pretty nice, but several people have commented that Obama's gift was "lame."
What were they expecting him to give the Queen? Delaware? She probably doesn't want it back.
Some have pointed out that Queen Elizabeth already has an iPod. Or two. Reports are still coming in.
Folks, she's the richest woman in the universe. She probably already has seven of everything in each size and color.
Others have said the older-than-God Queen wouldn't be comfortable using the new technology. This is possible, but one suspects the Queen has a royal retainer whose sole function is to keep the royal playlist up-to-date. (YNSHC has it on good authority that Queen Elizabeth is partial to death metal.)
And let's face it folks, the whole gift-exchange thing is just symbolism anyway--at least when you're dealing with popularly elected leaders. Sure, if you're a head-of-state visiting, say, Zimbabwe, there's a good chance you'll come home with a jewel-encrusted leopard, but in more enlightened societies, we expect the gifts to be simpler, more personal, again, more symbolic.
For some historical perspective, consider that President George Bush (the first) presented the Sultan of Brunei with tube socks. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, in what is still remembered as one of the great faux pas of gift-giving history, exchanged gifts only to discover that they had EACH gotten the OTHER a fountain pen. And no less a figure than Thomas Jefferson presented the King of France with a selection of smoked meats and cheeses. So, in the grand scheme of things, an iPod isn't so bad.
By the way, you know what the Queen gave our President? An autographed picture. Of herself.
Talk about lame.