What Day Is It Again?

I’ve done one or two dopey things during 14 years of marriage. There was the time I paid a “repair” man $150 to remove a child’s toy that had gotten stuck in the hose on the vacuum cleaner. That was pretty dopey, I admit.

Occasionally I’ve overestimated my skills as a handyman. The mirror hanging at a squint angle in the bathroom is a testament to that. I often forget to bring the envelope for the collection plate.

My shortcomings are real, and I acknowledge them. But I’m usually pretty solid when it comes to remembering birthdays and anniversaries. The problem is that the universe of holidays, feast days, commemorations, festivals, and fetes I’m supposed to keep track of is expanding, and doing so at an accelerating rate.

We celebrate more birthdays at our house than I ever thought possible (and we’ll be adding a new one to the calendar this summer). Throw in track practices, piano concerts, book clubs, baseball games, swim lessons, car appointments, poetry recitations, homeschool curriculum powwows, work lunches, and parish council meetings, and this boy’s mental inbox is at the bursting point.

Something was eventually going to give. A few weeks ago, it finally did: I forgot our anniversary.

Whoopsie daisy.

We all know how anniversaries are supposed to go. The husband makes a big deal. The husband puts on a show. The husband serves breakfast in bed, with flowers on the tray, and a gift that comes in a little, bitty box.

If I did any of those things, my wife would surely suspect a confession was forthcoming. Breakfast in bed just isn’t how we roll.

If you’re about my age, you remember The Cosby Show. It was the biggest thing going from about 1985 to about 1988. The recent scandal surrounding the show’s creator and star means we will probably never see Dr. Cliff Huxtable and his family on TV again. But it was good stuff, believe me. Wholesome. And funny.

One of The Cosby Show’s recurring gags involved Mrs. Huxtable, played by Phylicia Rashad, giving her husband a pop quiz about the details of their wedding day long ago. What color was her dress? What day of the week was it? What was the weather like? Who gave the toast?

If he hesitated for a second – which he always did – he’d live to regret it. She’d go frostier than a Snow Cone. How could he forget such an important day?

It was meant as a joke, of course, but I got it into my teenage head that married women care a lot about their wedding anniversaries. A lotty lot.

As with any decent joke, there is a kernel of truth in it. Women care about marriage, and about being noticed and remembered. Of course they do. But so do men. At least, this man does.

I have no need of stereotypes about married life. I know what it is. After 14 years together (15 including the preseason) we’ve figured each other out. We are not the same. Male and female He created them.

What amazes me most about my wife (apart from her penetrating intelligence and dimensionless beauty) is her intuition. She senses trouble before it happens. She can tell a kid is getting sick by the way he puts on his coat. It’s utterly mysterious to me.

It must be said that she also senses opportunity. Hitching her dreams to mine was no sure thing. She is a woman of strong faith.

I have weaknesses; too many to list here. But I’m pretty good at making pancakes, and I did once fix the minivan’s brake light all by myself without having to take it into the dealership. I think that more than made up for the $150 I wasted on the vacuum.

The fact remains: I forgot our anniversary, and I felt bad about it. I’d lived up to the most pedestrian stereotype about marriage. I was the dopey, forgetful husband. I didn’t want her to go Snow Cone on me.

Not a big deal, as it turns out. She forgot, too.

From the April 2016 edition of Fairfield County Catholic.

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