She: What do you want for your birthday, honey?

Z: I’m largely uninterested in my birthday this year.

She: Unfortunately, not thinking about it won’t make it go away.

Z: It’s not that interesting of a number. 44. What’s the big deal?

She: You’re turning 45.

Z: Really?

She: You were born in 1965. Ahem. I’ve always wanted to say this to you: Do the math.

Z: How about that? 45. Feh. Still not that interested.

She: It’s not like turning 16 or 21, but it is your birthday. Are you truly not interested, or are you just burying your feelings like you do for everything else?

Z: I’m really not that worried about aging. I’m still tall, and I kind of still have a memory and hair. Honestly, I’m stunningly mature about the whole getting-older thing.

She: Which is fascinating, since you’re so stunningly immature about everything else.

Z: I think you’re supposed to be nice to me on my birthday.

She: Is that what you want for your gift?

Z: Sure. And some other things that I only get once a year, but I won’t elaborate since this news site is rated PG.

She: Seriously, why are you so difficult to buy a gift for? I wandered into at least 13 different stores yesterday, found 27 different things that I wanted and absolutely nothing for you.

Z: There are plenty of things I would love to have, but none of them are in our price range.

She: Like what?

Z: House, car, vacation, endless source of clean, renewable, cheap energy — take your pick.

She: I didn’t see any of those at Old Navy.

Z: World peace?

She: Isn’t there anything I could surprise you with that would make you happy and not completely blow our budget?

Z: Again — this is a PG news site. Or maybe socks. I like socks. If I wore a tie, it might be nice to get a tie. A plain, functional shirt.

She: Are you turning 70? In 1950?

Z: No. But those are things that if no one gets them for you, then you have to go shop for them yourself. It’s the gift of not having to go shop.

She: That’s the problem with being a grownup. For the most part if you really want something bad enough — and it’s not some outrageously expensive thing — then you just go buy it for yourself.

Z: Which involves shopping.

She: Sometimes with our families it feels like all we do is exchange gift cards

Z: Which is the gift of having to go shop.

She: I like gift cards. Although, if it’s the thought that counts, then what kind of thought does a gift card show?

Z: That now I have to go shopping.

She: Or, it’s saying I care about you but I trust that you know yourself well enough to pick out a better gift for yourself than I would.

Z: It’s starting to sound an awful lot like you got me a gift card for my birthday.

She: You may have to go shopping. Now you hate me, and I’ve ruined your birthday.

Z: Don’t be silly. Besides, it’s no big deal turning 44.

She: 45.

Z: Yes, dear.

— Wish Zak a Happy Birthday at