It was my wedding anniversary last week; Thursday, to be precise. Please don't ask me which number anniversary it was because I struggle doing math in my head. Suffice to say, it's a pretty big number. But as far as anniversaries go, they just don't rock my Richter Scale.
Weddings and anniversaries seem like one-day events to me. What matters more are the things that transpire on all the other days of the year -- how you treat each other, how you make one another feel, what kind of partnership you have running the show that is your life together.
It's not that I'm unsentimental. On the contrary, I can tell you precisely the moment when my husband fell in love with me: It was when I yelled at him for daring to speak during "Monday Night Football" when the Giants' Phil Simms took the field. He's sports-crazed and I saw his eyes widen. He had found the woman of his dreams.
And I know precisely when I fell for Vic: It was when he rushed over to my house after I told him I was "fine" going alone to the vet to put down my beloved Old English Sheepdog. Yep, he came over anyway, even though for years he suffered through Shaggy wetting her muzzle in her water dish and then doing a face plant in his crotch. He swore she did it intentionally to get him to leave. I always assured him she liked him just fine, or at least about as well as she liked anyone who sat in her spot next to me on the couch. But yeah, he came anyway that awful day she died because he knew I needed him and that sealed the deal for me.
So yeah, we marked our anniversary last week. And with apologies to all the romantics reading this who are bound to be disappointed, here's how it went down: As I was rushing out the door to work at 6 a.m., reminding one kid to take his soccer cleats and the other to pack extra food for her cross country meet, my husband handed me a bag of Twizzlers and a card.
Twizzlers are my favorite candy and my go-to comfort food (assuming the FDA even considers them food). Just last week we were watching "Parenthood" together in bed and laughed when Twizzlers showed up as Julia's must-eat candy whenever she stresses out. He grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. "How's work been going?" he asked. I nodded "OK" and we switched gears to wondering how much Twizzlers paid for the product placement.
The anniversary card? The card he gave me is the same card that he's given me for four or five years now. We have a standing joke about it: We are the original recyclers, we say, getting so much mileage out of that one American Greetings card that surely we've impacted the company's stock price. It's a great card that speaks to our relationship. It starts out with a string of things he forgets to do and then concludes how loving me would never be among them. It works. It's spot-on. And since I don't buy him a card at all, I think he wins the greeting card round -- recycled card or not.
We've exchanged a few memorably funny anniversary gifts as well. There was the year when he bought me the identical necklace to the one I was wearing every day. When I opened it and pointed to the one around my neck, he said, "Well, it looked like something you would wear!" Vic is a man whose powers of observation sometimes are lax. I long ago got over that he doesn't notice when I get my hair cut. But he does notice when I'm late arriving home and will call to check that everything is OK.
My best anniversary gift to him, by the way, was a package of socks. He hates going into stores that don't offer free food samples and all his favorite tennis shoe socks had holes. As soon as he ripped off the gift wrap, he sat down and put on a new pair, so I knew he really liked the gift.
His comment: "How did you know I needed them?" A relationship can only have one person with lax powers of observation, I told him.
So yeah, I guess you could say we aren't a romantic sort of couple by conventional standards. I wouldn't argue that our romance looks different from most. He is more likely to bring me home flowers on a random day than on our anniversary or my birthday. "I just thought they smelled sweet like you," he said of the Stargazer Lilys he gave me two weeks ago. And I am capable of storming out of the house angry at him over something only to call him from the corner totally over my anger to warn him that there's a rockslide on our canyon road.
He worries when I have to drive to unfamiliar places because he knows I get lost easily and have trust issues with my GPS. I worry when he sees a doctor and doesn't tell me about it. He knows to leave vacation planning to me since I'm the harder to please. I know to include things he likes to do on those vacations because it matters to me that he has a good time.
And yes, we have a dinner date for Saturday to celebrate our anniversary at a more convenient time. Lest you romantics feel vindicated, know that we will likely bring our two kids along -- maybe even let them pick the restaurant. It is the life we chose for ourselves and it works for us. In fact, the only time I feel that people misread our marriage is when they ask me which number anniversary it is and I can't remember. Want a Twizzler?