Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Card.

Pam and I will soon celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. Including our dating years, that means that we have also celebrated 37 Valentine's Days. That's an awful lot of chocolate, flowers, and cards.

Last night was a modest affair. She had had a difficult, stressful day, so I decided that I would make dinner instead of going out somewhere and dropping a hundred bucks on some microwaved meal. There wouldn't actually be a lot of real cooking involved, just in case you've begun measuring me for a halo...steaks on the grill, fresh green beans and Bob Evans mashed potatoes. Although, my biggest coup of the night was the Duck Donuts I picked up on my way home from work! The road to my girl's heart is always paved with doughnuts.

The meal turned out perfectly. The steaks were delicious, I did an outstanding job on the fresh green beans(my first attempt), and Bob outdid himself on the potatoes. We ate this Valentines dinner while watching that romantic classic, Blue Bloods, the episode from season six where the obnoxious reporter gets thrown off the six story building and does a nosedive into the Corolla. I don't know about you, but nothing quite sets the romantic mood better than seeing a reporter get what's coming to him!

After dinner, it was time to exchange cards. I have a long a storied history with Valentine's Day cards. Basically, I despise them. If you're a man, you know the drill. You walk into a Hallmark along with a dozen or so of your brethren, head down and focused on the red and pink aisle. The display says, For the Wife. First, there are the super sappy ones that feature elaborate, three dimensional floral displays, some with glitter and soft material for touching, like the Pat the Bunny books you used to read the kids when they were toddlers. The verses in these usually contain the word soulmate. Then you get to the cartoon cards. Usually these are several pages long and feature variations on this theme...sometimes, my wife is funny, sometimes my wife is busy, each "sometimes" has its own drawing featuring the wife acting out the emotion. Sometimes my wife is happy, sometimes my wife is sad...( like she will be if you ever buy her this lame card). Then there are the pretentious ones, with some ironic black and white image on the front, and a one word verse inside...bliss, or...forever. Please.

So every year, the hunt for the perfect card gets more frustrating than the year before. I would just write my own on my business stationary, but then you run the risk of her thinking, "Oh, I get it. You either forgot to buy me a card, or you're so cheep you couldn't cough up a lousy five bucks for a real one. Of course, she would never, ever say this, but it would be inferred by body language or a well chosen, passive-aggressive phrase like, "Oh, this is different."

So, this year I went to Hallmark. I was maybe fifteen minutes in and I found a card that wasn't at all lame, at least it was the least lame one I had seen. I actually liked it. It wasn't Shakespeare, by any means, but it wasn't bad. Pam bought mine while at Kroger. She said it was actually the very first one she picked up. When we opened them, this is what we found....

Pam began to giggle. Then she couldn't stop giggling. What are the odds? How is such a thing even possible? Two different stores, probably a thousand possible cards, and we pick the exact same one.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. That may be true with regards to politicians and your boss, but in a good marriage, it breeds something else...comfort. I know this woman, and she knows me. Although I will never fully understand her, women being exquisitely, beguilingly unknowable, I understand enough to know that she loves me, in a thousand small ways, I know.