It is Valentine's Day soon, and that means Gary has to find a Valentine's Day gift for his Mom. Not for you, his wife? you ask. No.
Twenty years ago, the first or second Valentines Day were were together, we were shopping at the candy store and Gary picked up a heart-shaped box of milk chocolates for his Mom. Aww, I thought, that's sweet. (Or maybe it's a Catholic thing. This is because every unusual thing Gary did in those days, like the way he blew his nose or tied trash bags, I attributed to his religion.)
Later that day, we were in Victoria's Secret and Gary found a lacy white teddy he really liked. He held it up as a possible piece of lingerie for me. I laughed, "Gary, that's a petite." I am long-waisted and long-breasted (even then) so a petite teddy would have been all up in my cervix.
"Phooey" he pouted, "I really think this is pretty." Then, inspiration! "Mom's a petite. She'll like this!"
"You can NOT buy your Mom a teddy!" I said flatly, no longer fearful of insulting his Catholic heritage. This, of course, is where I made my mistake.
"I can buy my mom anything I want to. She likes girlie stuff like this. I want to give this to my Mom" he challenged.
"That's just weird."
"I'm doing it."
And I was there later as Wilma unwrapped the teddy, and as she held it up, and as the horror engulfed her face. Then she started to giggle. "Gary! This is underwear!"
Gary began to see something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Wilma kept giggling and cleverly turned to her husband. "Gary must have thought this was a top."
"How embarrassing!" Gary cried. "I thought it was a top!" Then he turned to me. "Ellen! Why didn't you tell me this was a teddy?!" Much hilarity ensued. I looked at him and vowed to never forget.
It has been many years since, and Gary has played it cool since the Unfortunate Teddy Incident. Wilma usually gets a dozen roses or a heart-shaped box of milk chocolates. Not so easy to find. After we tracked it down at Bissinger's we went out to dinner to celebrate my long-delayed return to full-time status. (I wanted to go home, instead, and watch the State of the Union, which is an interactive show at my house. Gary moons the president. He pauses the broadcast so often that there's never an uninterrupted phrase, much less a sentence. It's like President Bush has Tivo Tourette's. It's fun. It's like Mystery Science State of the Union 3000.)
Over dinner he started throwing out ideas for how we could celebrate Valentine's day.
"I know!" he cried "We can take a bike trip to wine country! It's only thirty miles!"
I have learned much since those early days of questioning Gary's stellar judgment. "We could." I said cheerily, thinking, That is profoundly stupid. We were exhausted after pedaling 2 miles last weekend.
"We could spend the night at a bed and breakfast."
I nodded enthusiastically. What about the dogs, I thought. And have you forgotten that you hate bed-and-breakfasts and we both hate wine?
"We could stay in a bed and breakfast and drink wine!" he cried, a little less excitedly.
"That sounds great. Set that up!" I enthused. He should have noticed I was muffling my permanent sarcastic tone, but he continued.
"I guess we would have to buy bike locks."
"That wouldn't cost that much."
"Hmm" he pondered, considerably less excited. "I guess it would be too cold, really."
"Oh, no, it's been warm." I protested.
He thought and sighed. "I guess you're right, it wouldn't be practical." I looked around for the big thought bubble that had given me away. However, I am not biking off to wine country, and that's what's important.