It's killing me.
Right before my birthday I went out of town to visit my family in PA, leaving Mr. Peevie in charge of kids, school, homework, baseball, ballet, laundry, meals, and birthday parties, plus his regular day job which actually pays the bills. He had a lot on his plate, and so I said to him, with unprecedented maturity and consideration, "Honey, don't worry about my birthday. I know you'll be handling a lot of things while I'm gone, and I don't want my birthday to add to your stress."
I'd love to get a present, of course (I told him), but it can wait until you're less stressed.
Apparently, he's still stressed, because: no present yet. Three weeks later. It's killing me.
I know that I am the most materialistic, shallow person on the planet, and I'm not proud of it. But a gift, to me, is love. It doesn't have to be big; it doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to be TIVO.
Oh, I'm just kidding. I can be happy with something other than TIVO.
I did ask him once, maybe twice, in the last two weeks or so if he thought I might be getting a birthday present. He said yes. He knows me well enough after 25 years of virtually unmitigated marital bliss to not kid about such a thing.
Virtually unmitigated. One time, early in our marriage, Mr. P came home from work carrying a mysterious package. "Ooo," I said, "What's that?" "I bought you a present," he said cheerfully, handing it to me. I was excited to open it, as I always am when I receive a gift. It was an album of music by an artist that I had never heard of in a genre that I didn't particularly enjoy. My balloon of happiness deflated rapidly, and I not-very-graciously said, "Oh. Thanks."
Mr. Peevie didn't notice. He opened the album and headed to the turn-table. (I do realize that my younger readers will have to get out their History of Electronics textbooks to understand some of my archaic terminology.) "I've been wanting this for awhile," he said.
"Really," I said. "Well, then, why did you say it was a present for me?"
"Um, because I thought you might enjoy it too?" he said, with the beginnings of fear in his voice.
"Let's take this opportunity to reach an understanding here," I said. "I love gifts. When you say to me, 'I brought you a present,' I feel happy and loved because you spent time thinking about me and about what I would enjoy." I paused for soulful effect.
"But when you give me a gift which is really a gift for you," I continued, "I feel cheated and tricked instead of loved." I know what you're thinking: boy, is this woman high-maintenance. And perhaps I am.
OK, there's no 'perhaps' about it. I will own that I am, indeed, high-maintenance. But I would argue that in this case, I was being the opposite of high-maintenance. I was communicating clearly and honestly, and asking merely for gift-giving integrity, which, if I recall correctly, was included in our vows, right after "love, honor and obey."
OK, slash that. There was no 'obey' in our vows. But I'm sure gift-giving integrity was in there, in spirit if not in so many words.
I said, hey, Mr. Peevie, it is perfectly appropriate for you to buy yourself some music! If you had come home and said, hey, look, I bought myself a CD, isn't it great!, I would have been happy for you, I said, and not at all disappointed for myself. Where he went wrong was in saying, for some inexplicable reason, that it was a gift for me.
Mr. Peevie is a very quick learner. He never made the same mistake again; and in fact, over the years has become the master gift-giver. He understands me and loves me, and I can tell that it gives him pleasure to show me love by giving me gifts. He puts himself into the gifts he gives, and I adore being on the receiving end of that.
Which is why this situation--no birthday gift--Is. Killing. Me.
It's killing me not to ask about it. It's killing me, wondering if maybe he forgot.
Doesn't he love me anymore?
Why can't I just let it go?
Have you ever known anyone so shamelessly shallow?
UPDATE: Mr. Peevie came through. When I returned from the Badlands, there on the dining room table were two wrapped gifts: a Jason Mraz CD, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, including my new favorite song, Lucky; and a large, very promising wrapped box containing a Williams-Sonoma pizza pan and cookie sheet. He loves me, he really loves me!