“Not even Amazon can help me now. I might be a dead man,” I said, realizing the depth of my predicament.
“People have survived worse,” my friend, Jered, replied, providing some true-yet-not-at-all-helpful perspective.
He’d called that evening to wish me a happy anniversary, the day before my actual anniversary, since he’d be traveling the next day. Jered’s the kind of friend who prioritizes the life events of those who are important to him, calling on birthdays, sending Christmas cards with personalized, handwritten notes, and generally making me feel bad for never returning the favor. I’m still friends with him anyway.
“My anniversary is tomorrow? How did this happen?” I asked.
How it happened is that my family had just returned from vacation. The whole point of vacation is to forget the responsibilities of your regular life. My vacation motto: If you can forget the date, you’re doing great.
I knew that my wife Kara and I had our thirteenth anniversary approaching, mostly because our wedding date is etched on the inside of my ring. The jeweler could tell I’d need the help. If he really wanted to help, though, he would have given me a battery-powered wedding ring that jolts the wearer with electricity one week before the anniversary. The shocks would become more frequent and painful until the wearer purchased a suitable present, with the final day of the Amazon Prime shipping window being one long, constant taze.
“Dude, just before I stepped out to talk to you, you know what I told her? That I’d take the kids to Costco tomorrow night after work,” I said.
Nothing says “romance” like thirty toilet paper rolls wrapped in a giant rectangle.
My best hope was that Kara had forgotten, too. Then we could handle our thirteenth anniversary the way that tall buildings handle thirteenth floors, skipping right from the twelfth to the fourteenth.
“Good luck! Hope you live to see your next anniversary,” Jered said, and we said our goodbyes.
As I climbed the stairs to our room, where Kara was reading, I pondered rushing out to find something right then, but the stores would be closed. Perhaps the 24-hour gas station on the corner would have something?
“Baby, I’m so lucky we snapped into this marriage thirteen years ago, just like you’re going to snap into this Slim Jim right now.”
No, I’d just have to go up there and confess. Better to do it sooner than to wait and disappoint her on our actual anniversary.
“So, just out of curiosity, did you get me anything for our anniversary tomorrow?” I asked, sidling up to her.
“Oh, that’s right! It’s almost here already! No, I didn’t. I’m sorry, things have been so hectic lately. Can we just skip doing presents this year?” she said.
“That’s fine, babe. If you didn’t get me anything, I guess I can just bring your awesome present back to the store,” I replied. Then I left the room in a huff. You don’t get to thirteen years of marriage without learning when to press your advantage.
No, not really. We agreed to forego presents this time, to our mutual relief. And Costco, in all its bulk glory, would have to wait for another night. On our anniversary night, Kara and I came up with some big plans for a hot date, eating piping-hot pizza with our two sons, and teaming up to pry loose details about what they did at camp that day. We never really got any good information out of them, but we both enjoyed trying.
Sometimes, not giving each other presents is the best present you can give each other.
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