May 24th, 2017
It’s My Husband’s Time Warp. I Just Live In It.
Father’s Day is coming up, and I’ve already picked the perfect present for my sweetie. I’m confident he’ll like it because a) after twenty years together, I know him pretty darn well and b) throughout the year, I pay attention to what catches his eye or piques his interest. That means when it’s G-Day (Gift Day), I can generally find something that feels personal and meaningful. That’s what good gift giving is all about, right?
Of course right. Which is why I’ve spent two decades trying to solve this riddle: Why is it that my smart, creative, loving husband has absolutely no clue what to get me on national public holidays and other occasions when gifts are highly recommended, if not mandatory? Together we’ve celebrated twenty birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and Hanukkahs, not to mention fourteen Mother’s Days. Together we’ve traveled across datelines, moved multiple times, learned to tango, raised two boys (an ongoing project, to be sure) and adopted a dog, a cat and countless fish. Yet even a quick look at my mate’s gift-giving history confirms he has me confused with someone else. An office manager, perhaps. Someone he dated in college, maybe. Or even a total stranger. Consider the following evidence:
Christmas 1999. We spend our first Christmas together in snowy Vermont. The magic of our new love dances in the crisp air like so many perfect snowflakes. I unwrap my gift and find … a sickeningly sweet scented candle. Which inspires this important policy change, effective immediately: Gifts deemed appropriate for one’s administrative assistant are strictly prohibited.
Christmas 2009. A full decade into my “low expectations” approach to the holidays, I strive for both maturity and fiscal responsibility. Yes, I tell my main man, the snow boots I already bought for myself online is all I want for Christmas this year, really. Two days before Santa is due, I wrap and label a growing pile of presents for everyone except me. I start to cry (so much for maturity). The love of my life understands this subtle hint.
On Christmas morning, my name is on a large box decorated with a bright red ribbon. My beloved grins as I reach into the box and feel something squishy under a layer of plastic. What could it be? I pull out something soft and dense, peel back the plastic wrap and discover … a faux fur coat. To be precise, it’s a heavy, dark brown curtain of ersatz sable that would look great on Tony Soprano. Not even Carmella could rock this look. Want to know how often I wear brown? Exactly as often as I wear fur. N.E.V.E.R. (Luckily, even the extra-small coat is way too big, so I have a valid reason for saying thanks, babe, but no thanks. Whew.)
Mother’s Day, 2017. Which brings us to the present (pun intended). This Mother’s Day, I receive handwritten cards from the kids and a box of See’s Candies. Yummy! Did you pick the chocolates yourself, I ask my love, as I peek inside the distinctive black-and-white box. (I always handpick for my dark-chocolate-craving consort.) No? How come? I inquire as I decide which sweet treat to sample first.
That’s when I learn these particular chocolates have been stashed in the back of our cupboard since December. My Chief Romance Officer had bought several pre-packed boxes on a special holiday discount at work. In other words, my Mother’s Day gift was leftovers. Adding insult to injury? I bite into a six-month-old chocolate and get a mouthful of marzipan. Which I hate. Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.
Okay, enough complaining. I’ve actually got some good news to share. I’ve finally figured out why the whole gift-giving thing is so darn difficult for my spouse. If your sweetie is similarly challenged, I think you’ll appreciate my discovery.
I believe my number one squeeze lives in a Time Warp. In this parallel universe, time simply does not behave the way it does in, say, my life. Or yours. My darling exists in a World Without Warnings, where upcoming annual events like a birthday or Valentine’s Day appear as dramatically and unexpectedly as sudden turbulence on a smooth flight. One day, my significant other is innocently going about his business on a regular old weekday. The next day, out of nowhere, BAM. Another Gift Day is here.
Of course, it’s not his fault. How could my honey possibly know it’s almost my birthday again? What on earth could clue him in that Christmas Eve is creeping our way – and the day after will be Christmas? What harbinger of Hanukkah could help him prepare for a holiday that starts on a different day every year?
Nothing, that’s what. I’m pretty sure my soul-mate (and, perhaps, yours) uses a very special calendar with every single day simply marked, Today. Nothing comes before Today. Nothing follows Today. It’s all just Today. Which is fine, until one of those pesky present-giving days pops up. Then those calendar squares surely read, Oh Crap! It’s TODAY!
My Time Warp theory makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t do a thing to cheer me up. We’ve got a noteworthy anniversary coming up this summer, and in a few short years, I’ll be face to face with a significant birthday. For the record, let me say this: Babe, let’s not do the Time Warp again.
How about a tango?
Chocolate Truffle Cake
Here’s an easy recipe for an RQ (Restaurant Quality) dessert you can whip up in just a few minutes. Chocolate lovers, rejoice!
Chocolate Truffle Cake
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp hot water
4 eggs separated
Melt chocolate chips and butter in double boiler. Remove from heat, stir in flour, sugar and water.
Cool slightly. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff. Then beat egg yolks one at a time and stir into the cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in egg whites and gently mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour into 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes.
Chill before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (a Leigh Ann T. review)
Gabrielle Zevin’s new book, Young Jane Young (out August 2017) opens by introducing Jane’s mother Rachel, a Jewish mom who is just about to discover her daughter has a secret that, once revealed, will usher in a sudden, unwanted and relentless brutal fame. Aviva (Jane’s given name, before she has to change it for her own protection) is an unpaid intern for a Florida Congressman, who is a family friend. Jane engages in an affair with the man – and then blogs about it. The blog is anonymous but, as everyone has learned from the last twenty years, nothing is truly anonymous and Internet privacy is a fairy tale.
Aviva is smart but painfully naïve. For example, she writes her first blog entry and then goes to sleep hoping to wake up to 100,000 hits, not comprehending what the judgment or damage 100,000 strangers might inflict. She has one friend, a sweet, honest, invisible boy (and fellow intern) who can’t compete with the shiny married Congressman. Zevin expertly crafts Aviva’s mother Rachel and her machinations with hilarity and insight. The reader gets brief glimpses of Aviva’s dad, as well as other precarious neighborhood relationships and her mom’s best buddy, Roz. But this book had me at Rachel.
Then I met Ruby, Jane/Aviva’s daughter. Picture a combination of Little Miss Sunshine and Harriet the Spy. A little tubby and a little too smart, openhearted Ruby is her mom’s assistant. She proudly wields an American Express business card attached to her mom’s event planning business in Maine. A lonely child, Ruby strikes up a very personal pen pal relationship via a class assignment, a fourth-grade-style Where’d You Go Bernadette. Suffice it to say, the main characters all run into each other again. Although some characters and situations are two-dimensional, Zevin resists hammering home any morality lessons or tying things up too neatly. Young Jane Young reads like a satisfying romp with important footnotes. Despite being social media mavens, the young are still achingly young at heart (and in mind). Infidelity can be a sneaky business. Society will likely punish a woman first and a man, possibly not at all. Above all, second chances are possible.