Since the day we married, my husband and I have struggled with my birthday expectations.
Whereas his family trained him to point out the exact item he wanted, my family’s gifts were always a surprise. I got everything from underwear from my two aunts, to broken toys given by a little brother. Somewhere in the pile of gifts wrapped in Sunday’s comics I’d come across one or two that not only surprised, but delighted me.
I expected that when I married, the tradition would continue. For some strange reason, when my husband married, he expected his tradition would continue. Weird.
So, after years of receiving gifts such as a belt clip to hold my cell phone and a calendar from our health insurance company, I surrendered. “Just don’t get me any gifts – ever!”
This year, two weeks before my birthday he said, “I was going to surprise you, but–”
“WAIT!” I shouted. “Dont’ say ‘But’. I want to be surprised!”
“But…you might not like it.”
“Well, duh. That’s pretty much the definition of a surprise birthday gift.”
“But…it’s expensive and it doesn’t make sense to waste that money.”
Sigh. “Go ahead. What is it?” I asked.
“A hot air balloon ride.”
“Are you kidding?” I screamed. “That would have been a PERFECT surprise birthday gift.”
In his defense, he had scheduled me for the sunrise ride which would entail me being awoken at 5:00 am. That would not have been a nice surprise for either of us.
After all the fuss, the hot air balloon ride was cancelled due to high winds. Feeling a bit sorry for myself, I awoke the day after my birthday in a foul mood (okay, I felt more than a bit sorry for myself.)
Husband and I were sitting in our sunroom reading when he said, “I thought we’d go to dinner tonight to make up for the balloon ride.”
I immediately perked up. “Great! Where?”
“The mexican place down the street.”
“No. I’m trying to eat healthy.”
He set his stubborn jaw and said, “Well I want to eat Mexican food so that’s where we’re going at 6.”
“You’re a jerk!” Okay, I didn’t say that out loud but I thought it.
At 5 o’clock my stomach started growling. “Hey, lets go now,” I said. “I’m hungry.”
A repeat of the stubborn jaw look. “Well I’m not hungry yet so we’re going at 6 like I said.”
You’re a jerk! my petulant child thought and I climbed onto the couch to kill an hour watching some bad tv. When Husband sat down next to me, I scooted to the other side of the couch.
“What’s that about?” he asked.
“Wrasser, frasser,” I mumbled.
We waited out the hour in silence. At precisely 6 pm, I climbed into the driver’s seat of our car and honked. We made it a few blocks away when Husband said we’d have to turn around because he forgot something.
“No way,” I said. “I’m starving. Whatever it is, you can’t possibly need it right this moment.”
Stubborn jaw. “I do need it.”
Tires screeched as I made a U-Turn and raced back to the house. He returned to the car carrying a grocery sack. Great, I thought. He got me a gift from the grocery store.
When we arrived at the restaurant he told the hostess, “I have a reservation.”
My mouth dropped open and I stared in disbelief. Really? A reservation? Do you know how many hours I’ve spent at restaurant bars nursing a diet coke waiting for our table because he refuses to make reservations?
“Okay,” the hostess responded. “I have it. For eight, right?”
Eight? Why would it be for eight?
By now, you’ve all figured it out, but clueless me was still too cranky for anything logical to enter my brain. It wasn’t until we walked to the table where I discovered two of my brothers and their families.
“Surprise!” They shouted. “Happy Birthday.”
Husband reached inside the grocery sack and removed a luscious chocolate cake that was placed in front of me.
While they sang the Happy Birthday song, I said to myself, “you’re a jerk!”