It was my birthday. That’s why I was more than slightly perturbed.
Well, technically it wasn’t really my birthday, but it was the day Todd and I had decided to celebrate my birthday, the day Todd had christened “Becky Ramsey’s Big Day So Becky Gets to Pick Everything and I Say Yes to It No Matter What Day”.
What a sweetheart, I’d thought, as I put on my invisible birthday tiara.
We were still hobbling through our vacation, the one we took immediately after dropping Sam off at college in Chicago. We’d planned the vacation because we hadn’t yet had a summer getaway- and we figured we might need it (boy howdy did we) after the heart wrenching-ness of leaving our youngest so far away from the nest. Plus, we thought, we’re up north anyway so while we’re in the neighborhood, why don’t we go see our dear friends Kathy and Brett in Minnesota?!
Yeah, I know. Duluth and Chicago aren’t exactly down the street from each other, but Todd and I LOVE a good car ride, so there you go. And it was so fun! We’d had a wonderful time driving through the midwest, stopping to take pictures with a giant fish and putting our toes in a freezing great lake. (Freezing! In late August! What a concept!) We had the best visit with our friends- the kind of time together that makes you think about the meaning of life and how glad you are for the people in it.
And now my husband was gifting me a birthday day all about me! How fun! How kind! Hurray!
My first proclamation/request was that we would not step foot/tire on the highway. That we’d travel back to South Carolina using little roads, not big ones.
Todd checked Google Maps which rudely informed us that this requirement would morph our 18 hour trip into 26 hours. “But we could do that for this morning,” Todd said, and then, at my frown, added, “well, maybe ’til two or three. Then we’ll have to make some miles.”
“Deal,” I said.
What a great present! Don’t you love traveling the back roads? Seeing how people live- how their houses are different and how some precious people decorate their yards with cement geese wearing scarves that they must tie on by hand? And how local businesses all across America love to get your attention by putting GIANT versions of whatever they’re selling by the side of the road- giant apples or giant pies or giant chairs or giant measuring tapes? I love that. I really do.
I also love coffee. Which was proclamation #2.
An hour down the road we checked Yelp for a coffee shop and found a promising one. When we pulled in, I tried to stay hopeful and gave myself an inner talking to. Yes, we were celebrating my birthday, but I am not actually royalty. I am not spoiled, nor do I think a coffee shop has to look like it belongs in Stars Hollow to serve good coffee. So what if it looks like a mini-mart and might have gas tanks on the other side?
We walked in, winding our way between big open fridges filled with all kinds of cheese and cheese products. This was Wisconsin after all, and they had a right to be proud of their cheese. I had consoled myself that first night after dropping Sam off with a plate full of cheese curds, and though it wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with my grief, it was indeed delicious. My mouth waters just to remember it.
But we had come for coffee. More specifically, a cappuccino.
Okay, I know this does sound spoiled, but it was my birthday (sort of) and given the choice, that’s what I wanted. And a scone. They had scones, all kinds. The brown sugar cinnamon looked perfect to me. They had raspberry too but I suspected that the pink bits scattered through them were actually clumps of artificial raspberry flavoring, produced in a lab, not a garden. I looked for Todd. He was browsing the cheese.
“I know what I want,” I chirped. “Since it’s my birthday, do you mind getting it for me?”
“Of course, Beck,” he said, putting a bag of cheese curds back, but then eyeing the big fat wheel over on the left.
“I would like a cappuccino- don’t let them add any flavoring to it. Just plain so that I can taste the coffee. And a brown sugar cinnamon scone.”
“Got it,” Todd said, picking up the wheel and checking the price.
“You sure? A cappuccino and a brown sugar cinnamon scone.”
“I got it, Birthday Queen. Go have a seat and I’ll get it for you.”
I found the seating area in the back, past the racks of cheese crackers and other things that go with cheese. It was a little weird– all the chairs and tables looked like they’d been hewn out of logs for Snow White’s dwarves. (Do they eat cheese?) But I like quirky. This was going to be great.
A few minutes later, Todd brought me a cup. “Just like you ordered,” he said. “A latte and a scone.”
“Yes!” said Todd, grinning, proud of himself for getting it right. “And a raspberry scone. I got myself one too- they look really good.”
He hadn’t listened.
It was supposed to be my birthday and he didn’t listen. I said it TWO TIMES and he didn’t listen to me. Just what the heck happened to Becky Ramsey’s Big Day So Becky Gets to Pick Everything and I Say Yes to It No Matter What Day?
I started letting my righteous self get madder and madder. My brain rifled through 31 years of marriage, searching for receipts of all the times the man has looked right at me and then didn’t put forth the effort to hear the details I was telling him! Did he not care? Was this not important to him? It was my birthday (kind of.) Was I not important to him?
And still he was smiling at me, munching on his scone.
I took a breath.
“This is a latte,” I said calmly. “I asked for a cappuccino. This is a raspberry scone. I asked for brown sugar cinnamon.”
“Oh,” he said, visibly deflating, as was only right. “Sorry, Beck. You want me to get you another one?”
“That’s not the point. I said it two times. Weren’t you listening?”
“I guess not. Sorry.”
I sighed loudly. “I don’t get it,” I said. “I don’t get it.”
(Apparently I wasn’t finished putting him through the wringer, punishing him for all the times I’ve felt unheard.)
“It’s just that…” he said, hesitating. Then he stopped and sighed. “I was distracted by the cheese.”
Did he just say that he was distracted by the cheese?
THIS WAS THE MOST HILARIOUS THING I’D EVER HEARD!
“‘I WAS DISTRACTED BY THE CHEESE!'” I said too loudly and started giggling. I tried to control myself but the laughter bubbled out in fits and starts. I was laughing like a crazy person. Todd started laughing too, not sure what to make of me.
“I WAS DISTRACTED BY THE CHEESE!”
Upon reflection I’d say that it’s easy (EASY!) in marriage to look for things to be mad about. If you live long enough with a person, you will have plenty of ugly history along with the good and the great- plenty of times when either one of you was inattentive or acting spoiled or rude or mean or thoughtless.
Thank goodness for rare times in which you can see how ridiculous it is to pick each other apart over dumb stuff. Not everything is dumb stuff. But a lot of things are.
Now I’m going to go get a cappuccino. Or maybe a latte.