I had to buy birthday presents for my wife. Her birthday was last week.
I’m not bad at present buying. I specialize in scarves, perfume and jewelry. None of those items come in a specific size, so there’s less room for error.
This year, I took a jump off earth’s flattest edge and bought her a sweater. It fit, too, and she liked the color, so it did not go back to Target to join the other husband-bought unsuitable presents on the rack of the returned.
But it made me think.
Why do we know so little about our wives, and they know so much about us?
My wife knows everything about me. She knows I like creamy instead of crunchy. She knows I like Irish whiskey, and not Scotch. She knows I take it black, no sugar. She knows I like vanilla, not chocolate.
And me? I’m not sure what some of the food she eats is called. Chia? Isn’t that the stuff that grows the hair on the heads of those chia pets in the dollar store? Sushi? She likes that, I know. But eel, clam, squid, Loch Ness Monster? She drinks wine, but red, white, beige?
She’s like some wild beautiful bird I lured into my house, and now I’m not sure what kind of food it eats. I only know I want it to stay forever.
And she knows I like plaid flannel shirts, red if possible, and tweed. She knows I like the SpaghettiOs with the meatballs, but not the ones with the cut-up hot dogs, and that I like corn rather than flour tortillas.
You know your wife likes the color green, no? Sure you do. Teal green? Lime green? Light green? Spruce green? No idea, right?
She knows I like French cuff shirts. She knows I hate raw tomatoes. She knows I like corn bread, but not wheat bread.
My God, is she listening when I talk to her?
She took her birthday off, but I went to work. That morning, she went out to breakfast with her best friend. The place they went to has exposed brick walls, protein shakes, 25 kinds of tea and a number of breakfast items involving spinach.
It also sells baked goods that you can take away with you.
It’s 2019, so she and her friend posted 17 pictures of the breakfast place on Facebook.
That night, after I gave her the successful sweater present, she asked me if I’d seen the pictures.
“I did,” I said. “But all I could really see was the case full of baked goods and the Scottish shortbread.”
I love Scottish shortbread. I had a grandmother who used to make it, and I kept the taste. In particular, I have to have it at Christmas, but I buy it throughout the year.
“Oh, yeah,” my wife said. “I bought you some of the shortbread. I know you like it. It’s in the kitchen.”
It was her birthday. She was out with a friend. Faced with a case full of baked goods, she pushed aside the brownies, looked right through the croissants, ignored the apple tarts and bought the shortbread.
Because she knows I like it, a fact she apparently carries around in her brain, shelved just above her Social Security number, and across from the huge shelf containing the 6 million things she needs to know as a newspaper reporter.
I see her as a wild beautiful bird, maybe a pink one, head cocked to one side, trying to find out what I like so she can fly to where that fruit grows, and pluck one for me.
— Marc Dion is a retired columnist at the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News and author of The Land of Trumpin’, a collection of his columns about the man who heads what was once the mightiest nation on earth. Contact hin at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter: @MARCMDION. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.