This month was a big birthday for my husband. I won’t say which one, but he’s getting a lot of letters marked ‘important Medicare information enclosed’, notices about the joys of a reverse mortgage, and brochures for burial-at-sea, and
Instead of a party to celebrate this rite of passage, he asked for something special: he wanted me to be the guy in our relationship. Don’t get your hopes up; this was a practical request not prurient. He just wanted to relax and not have a care in the world.
“I want to go away, just the two of us,” he said.
“No problemo,” I answered.
“You have to make all the arrangements,” he warned.
“You got it,” I promised.
“You have to pay for it.”
“Sure. Why not?” I agreed.
“I don’t want to lift a finger – for a week.”
“You are in good hands,” I assured him.
I then proceeded to make reservations at the Ojai Valley Inn. Forty years ago when we were firs married we went to Ojai and could only afford to stay at the Big 6 Motel. We dreamed of staying at the Valley Inn, so I thought this was the perfect time to splurge. I bit the bullet and made a four-day reservation. I made a spa appointment for him. I made dinner reservations. It all seemed easy enough – until he started asking questions.
When is check in?
What time are we leaving?
What route are we taking?
Do you have gas in your car?
Good grief, how should I know? When we traveled, he took care of all those things. I figured if I gave him the dates, he would get us there. I didn’t think he really wanted me to take care of everything. I scurried back to my computer for all the information and then took myself off to Costco for gas. When I got back, he dropped the big bombshell.
He assumed we would arrive in time to watch Super Bowl. I didn’t even know it was Super Bowl Sunday. I scrambled to find out what time the game was, how long it would take for us to drive to Ojai, and then called to beg for early check in so he would be in front of a TV in time for kick off. I ran to the grocery store and packed up Super Bowl treats (onion dip, chips and hostess cupcakes). In the end, it all worked out and he thought I had done an excellent job of planning our get away.
Getting there, though, was only half the battle. Over the next four days it seemed as if my credit card never made it back into my purse. There were lunches and dinners, the spa, and the room. I consoled myself that this celebration really wasn’t all that expensive if I prorated it over 23,725 days he had been on this earth. Day by day, my husband’s smile grew brighter and his step lighter. There were thanks for a wonderful time and the constant reminder that he could “get used to this.”
I wanted to scream: please, please, please don’t get used to this. Please go back to being the guy. Sunday, Valentines Day, he will revert to the role of hunter-gatherer, defender of his woman, driver of the car, person who figures out maps and directions, and payer of most bills. In anticipation of the hand-over of power, this is my birthday/valentine message to my husband.
Happy Birthday. I hope you enjoyed the week. Now that I’m done being the guy I want to thank you for a few things.
Thank you for working extra hard when you were seventeen so you could take sixteen year-old me out to dinner. I had no idea dating could be so expensive and time consuming.
Thank you for treating a much older me like I am still sixteen and your date.
Thank you for always being so steady even though you were probably sweating through the last forty years of career changes, raising two kids, moving houses, taking care of aging parents, and basically being a guy. You are a really great guy. It’s a hard job and you make it look easy.
Happy Birthday. Happy Valentines Day.
Your wife (not a guy anymore)