My husband and I are pretty predictable when it comes to gifts. Anniversaries and birthdays will usually produce a watch, for instance, or a spa treatment. We're always creative when it comes to the kids, but between ourselves, we tend toward the familiar. The expected, if you will. We've been together long enough to find comfort in this. This year, however, I decided to shake things up a little.
"So, what do you want for Father's Day?" I asked.
"Why? I'm not your father," he replied. I've always hated that argument, particularly when used in conjunction with Mother's Day. I don't care if I'm not your mother. If I'm the mother of your children, buy me something. And I will buy you something when it's your turn. This is how it works.
"No, but you're our children's father. So what would you like for Father's Day?"
"Hmmm ... clean counters?" he said. "I'd really enjoy clean counters."
"Eh, no. Doesn't work for me. What else would you like for Father's Day?" I asked.
"OK, no on the counters ... How about taking the dog out in the woods to do his business so my grass can grow back in?"
This was a very reasonable request, I thought. I know how much he cares about his lawn. It'd take a lot of work, though, what with putting the dog on the leash each and every time. Yikes.
"Sorry, no can do," I replied. "Next?"
"OK, then, what about keeping the cat off the bed? Every time I sit down I walk away with a cat-hair suit."
Ooh, another good one, because he does love his suits. But I just love to cuddle with the cat, and she jumps right up on the bed so I don't have to bend down to her--
"Probably not going to happen, but it was a good suggestion," I said, encouragingly. "Come on, honey, think! I know there's something you really, really want!"
He shook his head, somewhat frustrated, although I couldn't understand why.
"OK, let me help you out. How about pendant lights in the kitchen? I mean, sure, we'll have to tear out the entire ceiling, but how bad could that be, right? And then--get this--we can take out the rhododendron and put in a patio outside my office! Wouldn't you love that?"
"Um, actually, you're the one who hates the rhododendron. I actually kind of like--"
"But honey, use some vision! We could transplant it into the woods and it could live a long, useful life in the wilds, where it probably really wants to be anyway! And besides, if we get that out of the way, then we can paint the deck and porch, which you wanted to do, right?"
"Well, yes," he replied, "but only because the paint is coming off in patches. It's not like a whim, you know."
"OK, whatever, babe. But we're getting off point here. I'm trying to find out what you want for Father's Day, and you're really not being very helpful." I pouted for effect.
"Fine," he said. He started looking around, making a mental checklist of, presumably, the things he wanted. We've been married long enough that I could fill in the bubble over his head.
"Clutter-free? No dog on the furniture? A nice home-cooked meal on occasion? An evening free of commitment? How's all that sound?" read the bubble.
But he didn't say it, because just then the kids came cruising through the kitchen on their way outside. He got a knuckle-clunk from the boy and his usual love-filled glare from the girl, and looked over as his wife quickly tried to sweep a clump of dog hair off the floor before he could see it. And he smiled.
"A tie, I think," he finally said. "A tie would be nice."