Buying birthday presents for friends is easy, I just let my wife do it. She will spend hours online or in a store looking for the perfect gift. I occasionally go shopping with her, but I know it isn’t good for our relationship. A typical shopping expedition might sound like this.

               “Do you think Robin will like this sweater?” she’ll ask.

               “Absolutely,” I’ll say. It’s at that point she puts it back on the rack.

               “What about this sweater?”

               “Oh, she’ll look great in that one too.” Again, she puts it back on the rack

               “Let’s go to the housewares section,” she’ll say. That’s about the time I glance at my watch. The ballgame starts in one hour, and now I’m wondering if I’m going to make it. I can’t say anything, because she’ll ask me why I came along in the first place. The reason I joined her is that I love her, and I enjoy spending time with her, but shopping and husbands and baseball can be a toxic formula.

               “Robin likes to cook,” she’ll say. “Maybe I should get her a recipe book.”

               “That’s a great idea.”

               “Here’s a book of thirty-minute recipes. Robin works, and she might appreciate some quick meal ideas. What do you think?”

               I’m not sure why she asks because she knows I’m just going to agree with her. So, in an attempt to keep the marriage fresh, I’ll say, “No, I don’t think so.”

               “Why not?”

               Damn it; I should have anticipated that question because I don’t have a good response sitting on my tongue. “Uh,” I’ll say, “I just know you’ll find a better present somewhere else in this store. Let’s keep looking.” Now I know I’ll never make the start of the game.

               Before we leave, she will have found the perfect gift. Me, I would have bought the first thing I saw, which is what makes buying a present for my wife so challenging.

               My wife and I have been married thirty-three years, and this year, she celebrates her 60th birthday. Look, all birthdays are special, but this one might pack an extra emotional punch. I have to make this year’s gift the best one ever.

               I jump online and spend an hour and a half looking at sexy lingerie. What better way to make her feel young and attractive? Of course, I won’t be able to give it to her in front of our friends, because it might embarrass her, my second thought is that she’ll think I got the lingerie for me and not for her and that could backfire.

               I jump over to the kitchen appliances page and consider buying her a high-speed blender. The one we have now is mediocre at best, and it doesn’t do a good job of crushing ice. Of course, buying her a kitchen appliance isn’t very romantic, and it’ll look like I bought it so I can make margaritas.

               I decide to take a break and go to the market to pick up some groceries. As I’m walking through the store, I see a rack of gift cards. There are cards for movie theaters, restaurants, and iTunes music. I stand there a moment holding a ten-dollar card and a fifty-dollar card. Upon further thought, it hits me that I can just give her sixty dollars in cash, one dollar for every year of her life.

               I leave the market with a bag of groceries, no gift cards, and cash as the only idea of what to give her. I get in my car, turn on the radio, and it hits me. I won’t buy anything; I’ll write her a song. I’m not much of a poet, but I’m sure I can come up with something that will touch her. Writing the lyrics will be easy, but I have no idea how to write music.

               I put a call in to a friend who used to sing in a band. I ask him if he’d be willing to put music to my lyrics. He loves the idea and agrees to do it. I ask him if he’d be willing to sing the song and record it so I can play it for her at the party. He has a beautiful voice and agrees to do that too.

               My plan is in place, now all I have to do is write some lyrics. I stare at a blank sheet of paper and realize this is much tougher than I thought. I think about our thirty-three years of marriage and what it has meant to me. My wife and I have had many laughs over those years. She has suffered through every Sherlock Holmes movie with me, without ever once complaining. I’m talking about the ones with Basil Rathbone. Suddenly it hits me; she is one special lady.

               I sit down to write, and the lyrics mystically come to me.

Songs have been written that turn back the pages,

Mostly fiction, but some that are true,

Of lovers and friends all back through the ages,

But Catherine, this one’s for you.


Not just a birthday celebration,

but true feelings coming straight from the heart

Our team has been a real education

And I’ve learned that we should never be apart.


Where would Laurel have been without Hardy

It’s too much to conceive,

Think of Sherlock Holmes without Watson

Do you see what I mean?

I know we make a great team


I guess I’m trying to say that I’m thankful

To be with you almost every day,

And I hope you’ll remain, my partner,

For a long, long time,

And through many more birthdays.


               I send the lyrics to my friend who puts them to music and does an incredible job of singing them. The time arrives for my wife to open her gifts. She receives books and kitchen utensils and other miscellaneous items. As she thanks her guests for attending the party and for all the thoughtful gifts, I remind her she hasn’t opened mine yet.

               I hand her a compact disc and ask her to play it.  I make sure she cranks the volume up high. She asks me if this is a joke, and she hits PLAY. The men in the room have their mouths open and give me dirty looks for setting the bar so high. The women in the room wipe away tears and look my way tenderly. When the song is over, my wife runs out of the room without saying a word. Should I have bought her the blender?

               I excuse myself and walk into our bedroom where I find her sobbing. “That is the most romantic gift I have ever received,” she says. She hugs me and holds on as though she’ll never let go. In typical male fashion, the first thought that jumps into my head during this loving moment is that I should have bought the sexy lingerie as well.

August 09, 2019 00:55

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