by Mike McHugh
Today is my wife’s birthday. I’m not going to tell you what age Lady Yankee turns today. You simply don’t reveal that kind of information about a woman. If I did, I’d have to defect to Russia and join Robert Snowden. The only worse thing would be if I revealed her weight—a secret that is more closely guarded than the nuclear launch codes. In that case I’d be joining Jimmy Hoffa.
It’s not that my wife is overweight, far from it. It’s just that, in my experience, all women seem to be sensitive about their weight. Lady Yankee constantly checks hers and has worn out several scales. Good thing she buys them second hand from the post office.
I don’t have anything special planned this year to mark the occasion. I hope she doesn’t hold it against me, but I know she will. Birthdays are a very big deal in her family. She and her sister once petitioned the governor of Nebraska to have their late father’s birthday declared an official state holiday, despite the fact that he never once set foot there.
On the other hand, we in my family often have trouble remembering our own birthdays, much less each other’s. I’ll admit it was a problem for my brothers and me when we were younger and tried to purchase alcohol. But otherwise, we never considered birthdays to be important.
But they are to Lady Yankee, her own not the least, and so I suppose I need to come up with something quick. There is an NFL game on TV, but I’m thinking a sports bar might not be an appropriate venue. Not when we can stay home and catch it on satellite.
But staying in doesn’t seem right, either. I could take her to see a movie, but the problem there is that we can never agree on what to see. She prefers romantic comedies—the type where the woman is always cast as the self-reliant hero and the guy is the hapless stooge. Needless to say, men detest these kinds of movies. They want to see movies where the male characters are doing macho things like wrecking expensive cars and blowing up large concrete structures. This is despite the fact that, by and large, male behavior as depicted in the romantic comedies is more true to form.
This is why, if you go to see a romantic comedy, you will notice the guys in the audience finding every excuse to vacate their seats. Many are suddenly overcome with an intense craving for Junior Mints, causing them to excuse themselves to line up at the snack bar. Movie houses are known to stock up on Junior Mints whenever they are showing a romantic comedy.
I could take her to a restaurant, maybe a quant, romantic Italian one with the checkered tablecloths and straw wine bottles with candles in them. But that means we’d have to have to something talk about over the meal. Being married as long as we have, we’ve exhausted every possible conversational topic—every tidbit of gossip, every news item, every world issue, down to and including the effect of climate change on Maldivian gecko populations.
I’d ask Lady Yankee what it is she’d want to do, but a man is expected to instinctively know such things, much like armadillos instinctively know to control their own population by jumping in front of moving headlights. The truth is, however, that men are less able to guess what a woman wants than they are in guessing how many ball bearings would fit in a 55-gallon drum. (That one’s easy: 55 gallons worth.)
Staying home to watch the football game is sounding better all the time. And if she doesn’t like it, we can always watch a pirated movie. Hell, the FBI’s not watching during the current government shutdown.