Z: In honor of Leslie’s birthday today, I’m going to write our column for both of us. Having known her for more than 20 years, I’m quite sure that I can get inside her head and speak in her voice with pitch-perfect accuracy.
She: Oh, sweetie! This is the best birthday gift ever! You are the manliest man I know!
Z: Yes. I knew that you would appreciate the greatest gift of all: the gift of time.
She: It’s so true. Even though I spend most of my days drinking wine, eating bon-bons and watching soap operas, this week I’ll have more than enough extra time to get both a manicure and a pedicure while small Indonesian women walk on my back.
Z: You’re welcome. I had considered some small bauble — nothing over 13 karats because I know you think that’s gaudy — but I realized that nothing would make you happier than having me speak for you.
She: It’s amazing how well you know me — better than I know myself, really. Which is exactly why I love it when you speak for me. Sigh. (She doodles Mrs. Zak Klobucher in the margins of her romance novel for an hour or two.)
Z: I also thought that you might enjoy a life-sized portrait of me posing for water polo in my Speedo and holding my riding crop …
She: Be still my heart! Please say you made it happen!
Z: … unfortunately, we had some technical issues with the sitting.
She: (pouts) Oh, pooh. Did you blind yet another painter with your beauty?
Z: I don’t like to appear boastful at the expense of an artist in pain.
She: It’s hardly boasting. Even I can only stand to be in your presence because of the rose-colored glasses you bought me on the first birthday we celebrated together.
Z: I thought I bought you Pustefix Bubbles?
She: Isn’t that what I said?
Z: Give me a moment here — I seem to be losing the natural tenor of your voice.
She: How could you when you made my voice what it is today?
Z: There we go. Good girl.
She: (Beams a smile, and then dances a happy dance around her backyard carousel.)
Z: Tell me, how else are you planning to spend those 20 hours you’d normally schedule toiling on our column?
She: I was considering housework, but I’m afraid I just can’t get the house any cleaner.
Z: No, no, I don’t mean something for yourself. I mean maybe spending some time on one of your charities.
She: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so selfish. It’s just, it is my birthday, and I thought you wouldn’t mind if I mopped the kitchen one more time.
Z: How can I refuse you when you ask so sweetly?
She: (smooch smooch)
Z: I have one final surprise for you.
She: Is it a pony?
She: Just the three of us?
Z: How great is that?
She: (pouts again) I don’t want to be greedy, but I was hoping you might have invited Scarlett Johansson, too.
Z: Now, now. You don’t want to ruin your Christmukkah surprise, do you?
She: (Squeals with delight) You’re the best!
Z: Happy birthday, Leslie!
She: Yes, dear. A thousand times yes, dear!
Wish Leslie a Happy Birthday at firstname.lastname@example.org.