Apr 30, 2006

The Long and Winding Whine

See title. Don't say you weren't warned!

A little background: My family has always made a very big deal of birthdays - balloons, streamers, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, etc. I've been married 8 years and 50 weeks now; he's fully aware of this and usually tries even though he'd prefer to ignore all birthdays.

So, as you may have noted, my birthday was last Friday. No, you know... let's back up to the week prior to my birthday...

Two people are sitting at a dinner table. It's Friday night, April 14th.
Man: So, what would you like for your birthday?
Woman: (thinking, what the hell are you asking now for, you're not going to have time to get anything - particularly since just about anything I could think of to ask for would need to be ordered) Um. I don't know. I'd ask for the new Stargate S8 and S9 DVDs but I don't think they're out yet. (thinks some more, heck of a time to ask, you *know I can't think of stuff like that at the drop of a hat)
Man: (changes topic)

Fast forward to Friday last (April the 21st)...

Woman: (hmmm, card, small cake - diet alert, diet alert - no balloons, no streamers. Well, we are going away. Maybe he'll make more of a deal when we're at my folks tomorrow. Hey, where is he anyway?)
Man: (comes in)
Woman: Thanks for the card, honey! Come have some cake.
Man: Can't. I have to go vacuum the car for our trip. *You should eat it.
Woman: Oh.
(contemplating the minicake) Are you sure? (hopefully) I can wait; I don't mind.
Man: No - go ahead! I'll be back later.
Woman: (disappointed. wheee - birthday cake by myself. Woo freakin' hoo. Oh, I feel so special now. Oh shut up.)

Fast forward to Saturday, April 22nd.

Woman: Thanks for the present, Mom!
Mom: Don't forget to remind me to transfer the money!
Woman: Ok. (well, now, *that would be awkward -- excuse me, have you given me my birthday present yet?, but it was a nice thought for her to think of flying money. Looks like John *didn't get me anything after all. Oh. Well, maybe next Saturday when we go to dinner.)

Fast forward to Saturday, April 29th.

Woman: (unable to stand it any longer, coyly) So, what'd you get me for my birthday??
Man: Well, you said you didn't want anything... (awkward pause) So, what do you want?
Woman: (sorry, too late now)

Which means, of course, that I didn't get anything. And, as I recall, I didn't say I didn't want anything; I said I couldn't think of anything at that particular moment.

Would it kill him to put some thought into it? This is why we don't exchange Christmas gifts anymore. I know it's hard for him, that's why I suggested, from the beginning of our marriage, that we not exchange anniversary presents either, because I didn't want him to have to struggle to think of something 2 weeks after my birthday. This is the ONE opportunity each year he has to give me a present. And he can't fuckin' be bothered.

You know, I keep my ears open throughout the year for things that might be good for his birthday -- a little mental "gee, that'd be a good present for John" list. I've mentioned a couple of times over the last month, month and a half, or so that I'd lost one of my pearl earrings, the earrings I most often wear. I even asked me to help me find it. (I dropped it while standing at my dresser and it vanished. Of course, did I think of pearl earrings when he asked me, a week before my birthday, what I wanted? No. But, you know, he *could keep his own mental list.)

And, you know, this isn't about the stuff because, frankly, the best gift he could have possibly given me would have cost nothing except his time. He could have offered to let me have an entire day to myself. One where he took care of the baby the entire day, took care of all the fussing, the diapers, the feedings, the changing, the getting up and the putting to bed. He knows my biggest frustration is that I can never accomplish anything because, just as I get into anything, I get interrupted. To have an entire day where I could do whatever I wanted would be amazing.

I had better birthdays when I was single. At least, then, you *expect you're going to eat your birthday cake alone. (And, yes, I did make myself a birthday cake when I was single.)

I know, I know. I should count my blessings. And I do. But, you know, this makes me wonder where I stand on his list. Clearly not anywhere near the top. He just can't be bothered. And that hurts.


Blogger Brightdreamer said...

Reminds me a bit of that old saying... how does it go? Never try to teach a pig to sing; it doesn't work, and it annoys the pig.

I suppose some people need explicit explanations when it comes to human interaction, and it sounds like he's one of them. A suggestion: Fill out and the following form letter in 72 point boldface type on flourescent orange paper. Print many copies and post them about the house at least a month prior to any given gift-giving event. If there's a surface that isn't covered, print more.

_______ (insert name or nickname of choice):

On ________ (date) you must give ________ (specific item, service, etc.) to ________ (person/persons). You will do this because ________ (reason he should display some manner of consideration, emotion, and/or general human decency toward aforementioned person/persons). Failure to do so will result in ________ (favored possession or body part of choice) being ________ (destructive verb of choice) by ________ (destructive method of choice.)

- ________ (signature)

Hope this helps... ;-)

6:34 PM  
Blogger peppypilotgirl said...

LOL!!! I needed that laugh.
Off to staples.com for fluorescent orange paper...

Thanks, Brightdreamer!!

10:56 PM  
Blogger graymama said...

How can I follow brightdreamer's post :-P

1) Happy Belated Birthday!

2) Hubby and I have an understanding around gifts. He can donate to a charity that means a lot to me, he can make me something, we can have a family adventure day, I receive some sort of break from the little monkey, and/or I buy myself something and thank him for it later.

3) The men I have known in my life do not pick up on hints AT ALL!

4) It sounds like he is lucky to have you as a wife because of your mental wish list for his gifts.

5) Hope you are feeling better today :-)

10:01 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

I remember a similar discussion last Christmas.

You know, you could drop hints with instructions... "My mom wants to know what you're getting me for my birthday so she doesn't get the same thing. You'll need to think about that and get back to her soon, because she's shopping in a couple of days."

For Mother's Day, how about:
"Hey honey, [insert name] wanted to get together on the 14th. Oh wait! How silly of me, that's Mother's Day! I'll have to call her and cancel since I'm sure you'll have plans for me!"

2:30 PM  
Blogger peppypilotgirl said...

I am feeling better, graymama; thanks! I like your idea re: the charitable donation too!!

Yep -- similar problem at Christmas, Jade; although not with him, since we don't exchange at Christmas anymore. I like that line - my mom wants to know... Very useful, I think.

I think CSuzyQ's got it right -- have no expectations of it being anything other than a normal, average day. Easier said than done.

Thanks everyone -- very helpful suggestions, all!!

2:51 PM  

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