I announced my wife’s and my anniversary; if you were to judge from the way we’ve been hobbling around ever since, you might think that our evening became some sort of romantic-action-comedy film. (They exist. I insist that Jurassic Park is among them.) Maybe you’d imagine that we barely survived a whimsically slapstick assault by monkeys, bank robbers, or our own daughter. You wouldn’t be as wrong as I might wish, although I suppose it’s fitting that I have a story to tell.
It began with a surprise that was also not a surprise. (If that seems confusing, then you’re fine; only worry if it makes sense.) I tried to surprise my wife, which is a bit like poking a tiger that’s had too much coffee: both startle easily and can kill with their bare hands. Self preservation inspires me to focus on the sort of surprises that are gentle, the ones that can be imagined to include a parting curtain and pleasantly swelling orchestral music. Unfortunately, those are the ones that can’t be accomplished without planning and preparation.
Here’s an illustrative story before I continue: I once tried to change the spark plugs in my friend’s car. I reached my cumbersomely large but flexible hand into the deceptively constricting space available, unscrewed one of the old spark plugs, and then discovered that I couldn’t extract my hand while holding something in it. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t put the spark plug down without it falling further into the engine. I got my hand stuck in my friend’s engine.
Planning and preparation are not my strengths. Extreme size and the ability to make lightning-fast ill-fated decisions are my strengths. I’m like Romeo as played by Andre the Giant. Naturally, I wasn’t really surprised when the grand ship of my romantic designs ran aground on the cruel rocks of logistical foresight.
The plan seemed simple enough; it had three steps:
- Write an anniversary post for my wife, including our favorite picture of us.
- Leave our daughter with a babysitter.
- Take my wife out for dinner at one of her favorite restaurants.
The first step went reasonably well, if you discount the fact that I had to recruit my wife to help me find the picture, because organization also requires planning and preparation. She was surprised by the post though, so I tasted a bit of victory before the humiliating chaos that followed.
You might say that I failed by being too successful. (Again, only worry if that makes sense.) My wife was so surprised by my plan to take her out to dinner that she cooked dinner at home instead, not knowing that it wasn’t necessary. Fortunately, I also surprised our babysitter because I forgot to check beforehand if she were available. She wasn’t. In retrospect I guess it’s a good thing I had also forgotten to make reservations anywhere.
Thankfully, my wife has a gift for salvaging my endeavors.
Here’s a second illustrative story for you: I once decided to knit a scarf for her, overlooking my somewhat problematic inability to knit. (Rather, I can knit but it would have been faster, cheaper, and certainly easier to have bred special sheep instead, whose wool grew into frilly scarves on its own.) After two long years and barely two inches of progress, I gave a bag of jumbled yarn to her and asked her to knit her own scarf. She made a beautiful baby blanket for our daughter out of it.
In roughly the same way, she resolved all of my anniversary troubles. We enjoyed a pleasant home-cooked meal while our babysitter became available, and then went out together for some celebratory ice cream. We had a pleasant drive, ate some pleasant frozen confections, and made it home in time to tuck our pleasant daughter into bed. Everything went exactly as well as things go when my wife plans them rather than I.
Then we decided to check our e-mail. I’m not euphemistically concealing any sort of private activity; as soon as we were given the freedom of an evening alone to do whatever we wanted together, we each decided to check e-mail. Sadly, that’s when the injuries started.
To be continued…