VIEW FROM THE HILL: Remembering the spouse’s birthday can be challenging

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN PAUL PENNER
Last March, I received an e-mail message from my “significant other” which read, “Just thought you might want to see what is on my wish list!”


Enclosed in the letter was a hyper link listed as item #2158 on another Internet site. I clicked on the item and found myself staring at a picture of earrings.


I am thinking; “OK, a pair of earrings with little, shiny chips of hard rock. I’ve seen them before. Christmas is still nine months away. Why am I supposed to see them now?”


Suddenly, it came to me. It was time to celebrate my wife’s birthday.


I really do not object to being reminded of birthdays. My memory is not like it was 20 years ago.


Make that 10 years ago.


Would you believe…yesterday?


For most men, becoming aware of a spouse’s upcoming birth date is an interesting process. Some men need no reminders, unfortunately, and thus present no challenge. The wife has no opportunity to think up elaborate schemes, to be able to shop around for the desired symbol of love.


When her husband actually remembers on his own and surprises her with a gift, all she can do is exclaim; “Honey, you remembered!”


How exciting is that?


But the rest of us need a little help now and then. The degrees of help may range from the subtle to the extreme.


First, there may be a thinly disguised hint: “Honey, do you like the necklace in the store window? I think it would look great with my black evening dress-you know, for those special days.”


Let me update that to the 21st century version; “Hey! Come up to the office and check out our latest home page on the Web.”


The husband is unaware of changes made in his computer. Whenever he logs onto the Net, the first site he will visit is www.diamondsareforever.com.


The new home page is also password protected. He cannot change it back to his favorite sports information Web site due to new “spouse watch” software from www.sportswidow.com.


If that is not sufficient to peak the guy’s interest and get him to think about important dates in a man’s life -his wife’s birthday being one-the spouse moves from the subtle approach to a more aggressive mode.


This new tact is similar to a move in the chiropractor’s office where the patient’s head is turned 90 degrees to one side and bones snap into place. In this move, the husband’s head is firmly turned in the direction of the item in question-toward the computer screen that displays a picture of the desired object. Pasted next to the screen is the important birth date. Bones-or brains-snap into place, and there is a happy ending to the story.


Who cares who gets the credit for the outcome? The desired goal is to get the husband to think it was his idea in the first place.


If the Web site or snapping bones trick doesn’t get results, a final option is the “get to know the dark side of me” approach.


It is also known as blackmail.


The spouse may-after picking up pizza, balloons, party hats and birthday cake, putting up the decorations and setting the cake on fire-with cold, calculating eyes, look into her beloved’s totally blank eyes and say, “Are you aware that when you are asleep tonight, I can do many embarrassing things to you?”


Unfortunately, some men may not get the message at all. But most men will likely respond with, “OK, since you put it that way.”


Any man who has lived this close to the edge and survived the ensuing treatment will agree that certain forms of blackmail can be a good thing.


Having said all that, I want to be fair to men and present their own unique perspective.


I know this is only speculation, and I may have read too many cartoons from The Far Side, but isn’t it funny how some married women do not want to be reminded of their birthdays, but about a month before the big day, they get an uncontrollable urge to inform their spouse?


Most husbands have probably heard, “Oh, don’t remind me of my birthday,” at some point in their married life-and they willingly oblige.


Surprise! There is trouble in paradise.


Herein lies the challenge for men: The trouble with all this forgetting of important dates and subsequent relearning is knowing when remembering is appropriate. If one remembers at the wrong time, or if one forgot to remember at the right time-let’s just say it doesn’t matter, the consequences are the same.


I offer a bit of advice to men: If your wife or special friend suggests you go to the Internet and look up an item on the Internet, it may be time to remember something that you were previously told to forget.

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