Monday, July 14, 2008

Reviving The Birthday Spirit (Pt. 5)

It was drawing closer, and Marcie had determined the precise moment of my borthday's optimal celebration. This provided the proper framework, of course, for the preparation of lists, acquisition of goods and formulation of plans.

The third element created a quandary for me. Marcie was a person who knew immediately what she most wanted within any genre of selection proffered. Cake? Why, chocolate, of course, with chocolate butter-cream frosting.

For me, there were factors and moods and potential changes of mind to consider. I honestly didn't try to drive her insane. I was just quite a natural at it.

"Honey, it's a simple question," she said, dropping her hands to her sides, one with the pen and the other with her "special list for baking" pad. She leaned forward and rolled her eyes up as I responded.

"Well, it's liek two weeks away and I don't know what the hell I will want," I said. "I mean, I could end up wanting something completely different. I just don't want to commit yet."

Foregoing the obvious metaphors at this point in our relationship may have kept the peace, but Marcie was not one for offering such spurious and insincere comforts.

The solution slithered over me like a Zen snake. I leveled my gaze serenely at her and smiled. "I know what I want," I said.

"Well!" she said, raiding her hands and looking up at the ceiling. "It's a miracle! Frank made a decision."

I nodded slowly and smiled, whispering, "I want one of those Baskin-Robbins cakes you told me about," I said.

She looked crestfallen and I immediately regretted the idea, but pushed that sentiment back, as I did not really want an ice cream cake.

"Oh, the one I told you I thought I might like to try?" she asked, nodding. "Well, you know I can't make you one of those."

"I want you to relax and celebrate, too," I said, taking her hand and kissing her forehead. "But if I change my mind, I will tell you. This way, we are both covered."

She was disappointed, but she smiled and looked up hopefully. My deception was complete, but more importantly, I had learned to balance her need for forethought with mine for spontaneity, a lesson I would draw on for 14 years more.

In that moment, I just knew she was mollified yet still psyched at the possibility of baking for me. But the choice to throw out a red herring was made in a storm of memories.

The choice was only just so clear to me, and overshadowed indeed. It was overwrought, more likely, but I gladly indulged in my throes of memory. But I knew that mollification was no substitute for her simple pleasure at making me happy.

"Thank you for helping me look forward to my birthday again, honey," I said, slipping my hands under hers and onto her hips, leaning down and looking into her beautiful blue eyes. "I love you."

She bit her lower lip, and I knew she wanted to protest, but she was too pleased at the appreciation and the gratitude. It was a simple tithe I paid her, but one dear to her.

"Oh, honey," she said. "If all it takes is an ice cream cake to make you happy, then I can go buy you one right now."

She didn't. But we understood each other better, and there was much to be learned before that first birthday together happened.