Hubby’s Gifts Take the Cake
By Lynne Paris-Purtle
New Fairfield, Connecticut
[Editor’s Note: Lynne wrote this humor column for Dave Fox’s online humor writing workshop. Dave wrote about her story in his article two days ago: Migraine Memoirs: Writing Well When You’re Not Feeling Well.]
For my last birthday, my husband, Mark, thought long and hard and came up with the perfect gift – a new gutter to replace the old rusted one at the back of the house.
To be fair, I asked for it. One day, as we were sitting in the back yard enjoying the sunset, I said, “Boy, that gutter looks really rusty. We need to get a new one, don’t you think?” He filed that remark away under “great ideas for Lynne’s birthday gift.”
The first year we were married, Mark’s birthday rolled around first. I baked him a cake, cooked his favorite dinner, and showered him with carefully-chosen presents. Then came my birthday, and he got me: nothing.
I pondered how to respond, knowing I should use love and understanding to calmly explain that a wife, especially a new wife, expects her husband to choose a gift that expresses his affection and esteem. But that seemed way too nice. Instead, I gave him the cold shoulder for a week, after which I gave him the cold forearm, the cold wrist, and the cold middle finger.
The next year, determined to avoid the Klondike Bar treatment a second time, Mark set out early in the morning to buy my present. He was gone most of the day. He came home beaming. Clearly, he felt that he had redeemed himself.
“Where have you been?” I asked.
Smiling broadly, he said, “Home Depot!”
I forced a smile as my shoulder began icing over. “Home Depot! Well, well.”
“Come out to the driveway,” he urged.
I followed him outside where he revealed his surprise: “I got you that toilet you’ve been wanting!”
There it was: a shiny new commode, proudly parked in the driveway for the neighbors to envy. I responded in the only other way I could think of besides using weaponry. I laughed.
His smile morphed into a pout. “I got you the matching sink too.”
“Oh. The matching sink. That’s … lovely.”
This time I sat him down to discuss how birthday gifts should be personal – things that would only be used by the recipient.
The next year he bought me a “Fry Daddy” deep fryer. We were making progress. The Fry Daddy would indeed be used only be me, the keeper of all things culinary. Never mind that this appliance was designed to cook fried chicken, French fries, onion rings – all of Mark’s favorite foods.
The gift lecture was amended once more to include the phrase “and only enjoyed by the birthday girl.”
This worked. The next year, my husband proudly bestowed upon me a red, white and blue flower arrangement, complete with a miniature American flag, because, he said, “I know how patriotic you are.”
I do love my country, though I suspect the arrangement had been ordered for a war veteran and left to languish until my husband, desperate for a last minute gift, spied it in the flower cooler of our local grocery store. I decided my husband would always be meaningful-gift challenged.
Then on July 14 – Bastille Day in France – Mark came home with a fine bottle of French wine. “I know how much you loved being in France on Bastille Day,” he said, “and I thought you might be feeling a little down this year.”
We sat in our lawn chairs, sipping wine and holding hands. And as we watched the setting sun glint off of the roof line, I thought, “It really is a very nice gutter.”
[Photo: Jessica Diamond / flickr]
[Lynne Paris-Purtle teaches writing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. She writes creative nonfiction and has just completed Eggsistentialism: What I Learned about Life from Chickens, a humorous memoir about her family’s attempts to raise six chickens in suburbia. She lives with her family in New Fairfield, Connecticut.