My husband relishes control, while I cherish freedom. Each accepted the challenge of the other, near 40 years ago.
As you might surmise, Larry hates surprises. As the girlfriend, I’d tried once, in front of his sisters, by making popcorn balls for his birthday. He skulked past them. I didn’t know the family rule that one must not sully the Sunday night popcorn with molten corn syrup.
I survived that silent scalding to become the wife and – being the in-the-moment type – thought I’d attempt the challenge of a 40th birthday surprise. Several friends were complicit, so I had support.
His birthday was on a Saturday, so I’d booked a room at the Surf-and-Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach, a plush place on the sand, with a limo ride to spirit us away. Shazam!
Well, wouldn’t you know it – Larry decided to be a Saturday handyman. I couldn’t figure out a way to say, “Please don’t” without tipping my hand. So he began. To replace a recalcitrant garbage disposal. Under the kitchen sink. Did I mention that our kitchen is a narrow wedge of a room? I fluttered nearby, faithful to hand him tools as required to complete the project.
Of course, the limousine arrived early.
Of course, I invited the tuxedo’d driver into the kitchen for a coke. Of course, I tentatively tapped my husband on the knee and said, “Lar, there’s someone here for you.”
Picture my husband, arched flat and awkwardly on his back, to scrunch under our kitchen sink to replace the garbage disposal. He’d just wrenched something – thankfully not his back – and water was drip-drip-dripping onto his face. Oh no!
Guess what he pictured when he glimpsed the silk strip down the outside seam of the black slacks. “What’s the cop doing here?”
“Lar,” I said firmly, gently, with my best wifely persuasion. “The guy’s a limo driver, here to take you somewhere to celebrate your birthday.”
Notice that I refrained from shouting, “Surprise!”
Though he was flustered, Larry finished the project pronto. Well done, though good-and-faithful husband. Though he was discombobulated, he relaxed to the fact that I’d pre-packed a bag competently, including shaving supplies, and we were set for an unplanned adventure.
Larry, like many men, avoided the shopping confusion of large stores. Small men’s shops dotted Balboa Island’s main street, but he seldom visited them because of the dearth of parking spots. With a limo, the sticking point was moot.
I’m pleased to report he bought several pairs of shoes, well-styled shorts, and his first Reyn Spooner shirt.
Happy Birthday, Babe!
Miracle #1: I didn’t squeal – I’m an open book, not a secret keeper extraordinaire.
Miracle #2: I survived. Back to my husband despises surprise.
Miracle #3: It was a breakthrough date. Previously, my husband had hated birthdays. Now he was enthused.
Life as a Miracle, if you dare.