What Does It Really Feel Like Outside and Are There Baptists in Italy?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so when the first cold snap of the season came upon us today I was listening, and reading the local weather pundits.

“The first cold snap of the season is upon us.”  According to the local meteorologists/hairdo’s/suits, an “arctic” front was “barreling down” from the frozen north.  It could be the coming of the Apocalypse!  The temperature might just dip below 30 degrees!  I think that if there had been the slightest chance of snow, the local weather hairdo giving the forecast, just might have had an accident.  I watch all the Alaska shows, so that just in case there is a grizzly attack here in Greenville, SC I’ll know what to do. You know the shows I’m talking about.  They have to cut their own firewood, not for ambiance, but to actually heat their homes that are the size of our breakfast nooks, or they might actually die.  Now I don’t know where you’re from, but to me that’s cold.  30 degrees ain’t cold.  Cutting firewood so you don’t freeze to death is cold.  But what struck me was all the uproar about what it really feels like, or what most of us know as “the wind chill factor.”

Now the goal posts in my head might be further apart than most people’s, so I figured I better look up what the formula is for the wind chill factor before I make too big a fool out of myself.  Yeah, I know, too late right?  One organization touts itself as using more than 2 factors, and they have “patented” their work, so I am afraid to ridicule them by name.  I don’t want to get sued.  Not that there is anything to sue for in the first place, but it means I’ll have to open more mail than usual, and there will be phone calls.  I hate phone calls. Thank goodness someone invented texting.   Here is the link to their website that tells you they use more than 2 factors, but because it’s “patented” they can’t tell you how they do it.  I think the more factors you use the more ridiculous you look.  First here is the actual formula for the wind chill factor from weather.gov. Basically it means, if the wind is X and the temperature is Y, it really “feels” like Z.

WindChill = 35.74 + (0.6215 × T) − (35.75 × Wind) + (0.4275 × T × Wind)

Because the user might need the Wind Chill in Watts per meter squared ( W , it can be m2 ) calculated using an air temperature in degrees Celsius (°C) and a wind speed in meters per second ( : s m )

WindChill = (12.1452 + 11.6222 x sfc − 11.622 × Windsfc) × (33 – T)


Okay, everybody got that?  Real easy right?  But here’s my question, and we’ll just stick with wind chill factor and forget about the “other guys patented formula with more variables.”  How do they figure that out?  I mean at some point someone had to go outside and say, “You know it really doesn’t feel like 20°F out there with the wind blowing at 15mph, it really feels like -10°F.”  They had to have some Goober stand outside with a thermometer and an anemometer (I had to look it up.  I thought about putting in just windometer, but we need to learn at least something once a day, right?) and shout, “Hey Barney. The wind is 15 mph and it’s 20°F, but what does it really feel like?”  Then Barney had to shout back something like, “I don’t know Otis, but I’ll guess 6.2°F.” (I actually keyed in the numbers into the weather.gov windchill conversion chart to get the actual number.  We’re just being all kinds of sciency today aren’t we?)  Barney had to have stayed outside long enough to get enough readings for the math types to have been able to come up with a formula. Now you know why I think using more factors makes you look more ridiculous.  “Okay Barney, the wind is blowing, the temperature is X, but now you’re wearing a coat, the sun is out, but you’re standing in the shade, in the driveway wearing Birkenstocks and socks, and it’s snowing, what does it feel like now?”  Barney had to reply, “yeah, it doesn’t feel like 6.2°F anymore, it really feels like 7.2°F.”  Having gone through all those machinations, they came up with the formula I gave you above.

If they didn’t have a guy standing outside, then don’t give me the wind chill factor.  Wear your suit, poof your hair and tell me what the weather is going to be like tomorrow.

How would you have liked to have been that guy standing outside?  I know it had to be a guy because a woman wouldn’t have been that dumb.

As a side note today, I would like your opinion.  We were watching a tribute to the 3 tenors, by 3 of the youngest, littlest, skinniest, purtiest guys, with the biggest voices, and hairdos, you have ever heard, on PBS Saturday night.  In my uncultured opinion if you’re going to sing like that, you need to be big, fat, bald, and with a plate of spaghetti next to you.  In other words you need to look like me and/or Pavarotti. They were performing in Florence outside of the big Cathedral.  My Mom asked, “What is the name of that church?”  Instead of saying “The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore” which is the actual name of the Cathedral, I deadpanned, “1st Baptist of Florence.” Nobody laughed, and one person remarked, “Do they have Baptists in Italy?”  Somebody tell me, how is that not funny?


Don’t Kick My Chair During the Scary Part, Dude!

The play, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight,” almost scared a little bit of pee out of me.  It was great.  I generally like going to plays, always have, but I saw one this summer that just bored me to tears, so I haven’t been too motivated lately. I think you are always more disappointed in something when your hopes regarding that something are up unnecessarily high.  Needless to say I have been tentative about going to another one.  Unfortunately, I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, so the missus wanted to take me to a play and dinner, so I said “okay.”

Kim made the reservations or at least she tried to.  My wife, as sweet as she is, tends to have issues with technology. When she is using her phone, kindle, or laptop, and something doesn’t work the way she wants it to, the conversation usually goes like this:

“Here, fix it.”

“Fix what sweetie?”

“Fix this!”  She is now shaking the device at me.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It won’t work.”

“Well honey, I kinda figured that one out on my own.”  For some odd reason or another, that response never goes over too well.

“Is there anything in particular it’s doing or not doing?”

“It won’t work.  Fix it.” Still shaking, or wagging, said device.

Someday I’m going to learn to just take the device and make it work without asking questions.  But seeing as how I fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down, it ain’t gonna happen.  This is the same guy who asked his, not even close to being 68 year old wife, after she told him that the recent super moon hasn’t been this close to the earth in 68 years, if she remembered it looking like this. So, I take the device, which, this time, happens to be the laptop.

Tap, tap, tap, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, adjust, adjust, adjust.

“Okay sweetie, here ya go.”

“What did you do?”

“I keyed in the password.”

“Thank yooooooooo!”

A short time later she says to me, she says, “there are no good seats until the 12th.”

Now my birthday is on the 3rd, and we had already planned to meet my mother and brother at Biltmore in Asheville, NC on the 2nd for lunch and a tour. Then on the 3rd, Kim had planned to take me to dinner at our favorite steak place (which means our favorite restaurant), the Peddler, in Greenville. Plus, she bought me a new electronic device.  So I’m not feeling slighted on the birthday celebrations. She could have stopped at the electronic device, but I’m not going to tell her that.  I’m good with my haul.  Dinner and a show is just a bonus, and it’s a play anyway, so like I said, I’m not too keen on going. But what are you going to do?

“That’s okay honey.  We’re doing enough for my birthday, don’t worry about it.”  I think I’m home free.

“Well there are good seats available on the 12th.”

“That’s okay.  We don’t have to go.”

“Okay, good.  We’re booked on the 12th.”

“But I said you didn’t have to do that.  You’re doing enough already.”

“We’re booked, we’re going.”

“So basically, this has got nothing to do with my birthday.  You just want to go to dinner and a play?”

“Not basically.  Yes!”

So we’re booked for a play, disguised as my birthday present.  It’s a comedy thriller, “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight”.  I’m not sure how they’re going to do that.  The best thriller I ever saw was the movie “When a Stranger Calls” and there wasn’t anything funny about that.  Except for the time they thought they had finally caught the guy. The mood was peaceful, everybody was breathing a sigh of relief, and then the heroine hears coming from the bedroom closet, “Have you checked the children?”  She rolls over to wake her husband and it turns out it’s not her husband lying next to her, it’s the killer.  That part of the movie wasn’t funny.  What was funny, were the 4 girls sitting 5 rows in front of me, screaming, jumping up, climbing over the people sitting between them and the escape route that was the aisle, and running out of the theater.  That was funny.  So naturally I’m a little skeptical about a “comedy thriller”.

We don’t attend the theater often, but I’ve seen movies where people go to the theater.  In my opinion we look the part of theater goers.  I’m wearing khakis and a sweater and the missus is wearing a nice outfit that I can’t even begin to describe other than, “She looked good,” which for my wife is pretty much all the time.  The only thing missing was me wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and Birkenstocks with white socks.  Isn’t that how most men attire themselves when attending the theater?  Elbow patches and Birkenstocks?  That’s the way they do it in the movies.

Before the performance we attempt sophistication by ordering a glass of wine at the concession stand. We don’t do this often and we want to fit in.   2 problems.  #1 the wine comes in small plastic cups.  If they wanted to be any more southern they should have just used Red Solo cups.  #2 the love of my life, when asked by the “bartender” what she would like, responded by saying she wanted something sweet.  We’re not exactly at a wine tasting, so the guy looks at her like I usually do when she asks me, “Are you paying attention to me?”  For all of you keeping score at home, it’s not a pleasant look.  All you husbands out there know what I am talking about.

“We have Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio.”

She looks at him like I look at her when she says, “Are you paying attention to me?”  All you wives out there know what I am talking about.  My wife enjoys wine, but is not exactly a Sommelier.  I’m not either.  Needless to say I had to look up the word that means “wine expert.”

I told her to try the Pinot Grigio, I ordered the Cabernet, and we stood there “fashion policing” the other theater patrons. There was not an elbow patch, or pair of Birkenstocks to be seen.  We crumpled up our “glasses” dumped them in the trash and found our seats.

Some guy walked out on the stage, turned out it was the Executive Director Allen McCalla, to make announcements, pitch a couple of the sponsors, and tell us a little bit about the play.  For some reason everyone applauded when he came out.  I’ve met Allen, and he’s a nice guy, but he really didn’t do anything except walk out on the stage, so I’m not real sure why everyone was clapping.  They clapped when he left the stage too.  I asked around, but nobody else could tell me why they were clapping either.  Turns out he also directed the play, so, what do I know?

The lights came down and the play started.  And you know what?  It is pretty funny.  I still don’t see the thriller part of it yet.  I should have known better.  The play is set in kind of a stereotypical thriller setting, farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, with city people, the wife played by Emily Grove, and the husband played by Sam McCalla, who have never been in the country before, renting for the next few months.  The colorful farmer, played by Evan Harris, who is leasing them the house, is pretty funny.  He tells the standard ghost story of a hermit who, years before, had murdered someone in that house and had never been caught.  Previous guests have claimed to have seen ghosts in the house.  The sightings are always mysteriously preceded by the sound of an unearthly heartbeat.  The stage is set.  You know someone, or some people, ain’t a gonna make it to the end of this play.

The play continues and the wife, who has mental issues, decides to stay up late reading. And then it happens. The lights flicker, and you start to hear a heartbeat.  The lights flicker again, and she starts freaking out a little, screaming for her husband.  The lights go out and she’s still screaming.  I didn’t know a theater could get this dark.  I’m sure they were there, I’m really not looking, but you can’t even see the glow of the exit signs.  We have now moved from comedy to “full tilt boogie” thriller.

Now back to our story.  The wife is still screaming for her husband, it’s still pitch dark, the heartbeat has gotten louder and faster, a light shines just outside a window that has mysteriously opened, and then, all of a sudden, the wife shines a flashlight around the room, and it lands on the hermit, a hideous figure holding a bloody knife ready to stab her.  She screams again, and all the lights go out again.

The lights come up, the husband rushes into the empty room with the wife still holding the flashlight screaming about the hermit with the knife.  Everybody calms down, except the wife of course, and the play continues, jokes are told, the audience laughs and the husband goes back to bed, having searched the house and not found the first hermit.  The wife, she’s still pretty worked up, kind of like me at this point, so she decides to stay up.

A little background about me, at this juncture in our story, would be appropriate.  I’ve never liked blood and guts horror movies.  However, when I was a teenager I used to love the non gory thrillers like the first “Halloween” movie, which was, surprisingly, not that gory, and the aforementioned “When a Stranger Calls.”  They were pretty fun, and let me tell you why.  My first car date, or the first date I had after I got my drivers license and didn’t need my Mom or somebody else’s Mom to drive us, was the first “Halloween” movie.  The first time the creepy music started playing, and the killer jumped out of the shadows with the knife, my date jumped straight up out of her chair and landed in my lap, where she remained for the rest of the movie.  Yes sir, I had me a good thing going.  Scary movies?  Who knew?  So, I saw all the scary movies through High School. Let’s face it, being startled is fun, and more importantly your date being startled is even better.

So when the wife in the play decides to stay up, I know this isn’t such a hot idea.  Sure enough here we go.  The heartbeat.  The flickering lights.  She runs over and closes and locks the window.  The heart beat gets louder. She grabs the shotgun off the wall. The heart beat gets louder and louder.  The window, that she has just locked, flies open, the drapes billow with the wind, and suddenly the lights go out.  The theater is pitch dark, again.  The sound of footsteps is audible.  The wife screams and I’m about to come out of my skin. And then it happens.  The guy behind me decides to cross his legs, and he kicks the back of my chair.  He couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and get comfortable. I mean for crying out loud you can’t do that sort of thing, at that point in the play!  I thought I had been had.  The jig was up.  They had caught up to me.  It was in that moment I thought Freddy Krueger himself was banging on my chair.  If I hadn’t used the rest room before we sat down I might have had a bigger problem.  I kid you not, I’m not making this up, I literally came up out of my chair, and hollered “Oh s#*t.”  Thank goodness at that very moment, back on stage, the wife decides to fire the shotgun, so my expletive isn’t heard by the rest of the audience.  It is, however, heard by those within my immediate vicinity, rows O and P.  The lights come back up, and I won’t tell you what happens because it is a good play and you need to see it someday, but jokes are told, everyone laughs and we break for intermission.

I am really hoping this guy is wearing elbow patches and Birkenstocks.  I turn around, and sitting there, not wearing elbow patches or Birkenstocks, is just a regular guy wearing jeans, sneakers, a Clemson sweatshirt, with a big grin on his face. He is sitting with; I am assuming, his wife and another couple.  I want to break bad on this guy so much, but he is just sitting there smiling, kinda knowing what he did, and trying his best not to laugh.  I’m 6’4 about 310 lbs., depending on what I had for dinner (we hadn’t eaten yet so it was probably close to 305), so when I turn around, and you don’t know me, after having my kicked my chair, you probably would be just a tad worried.  This guy is just grinning.

It’s kinda hard to break bad on a guy when, #1 he is not wearing elbow patches and Birkenstocks, #2. Clemson has just lost to Pittsburgh on a last second field goal, and #3. your wife is sitting next to you, with her hands over her face, shaking uncontrollably, doing her absolute level best not to fall down in the floor in hysterics.  The best I could do was look the guy in the eye, point my finger at him, and say “DUDE!!”

This was one of the times when “sir”, “hey you”, or “excuse me”, just wouldn’t work.  This was a “DUDE!!” moment if there ever was one.

“DUDE!! You kicked my chair at absolutely the worst time, ever!”

He just keeps smiling, I look down the row, and his party is basically mirroring Kim, hands over their noses and mouths, not looking directly at me, and shaking hysterically.  It is at this point Kim loses it, and everybody else blows up.  There was no hiding it.  “Mr. bad ass, 6’4” 305 lbs., scared of the dark, jumps at a shoe bump,” is now the hit of The Greenville Little Theater’s row O and P.  I shake hands with “Clemson,” watch Kim hand out tissues to everyone on our two rows so they can wipe the tears of laughter from their eyes, check my shorts, and sit down to watch the rest of the play.  It is just as good as the first part, and I still have a couple of expletives left in me for the rest of the scary parts.  Kim never fully regains control.  In fact at one point she pokes me at the wrong time, just to see what I would do.  I don’t disappoint.  I am still worked up. One week later I might still be.  I can’t say as I blame her though.  I would do the same thing if the shoes were reversed.  Dadgum play should have been called “Don’t Kick My Chair During the Scary Part, Dude!”

We still had dinner left to attend.  But since nobody else wore elbow patches and Birkenstocks, we didn’t bother with Chateaubriand and a good Cabernet.  We went to Waffle House.





My own personal St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

I think it’s fairly well accepted assumptions that the worst thing a husband can do is NOT get his wife a gift on Valentine’s Day.  That particular assumption would be WRONG, and I am here to tell you about that “something even worse”.  I am here to tell you that not only did I not have a gift for my wife on Valentine’s Day, I did that aforementioned, “something even worse.”  Have you ever heard of the sin of omission and the sin of commission?  I managed to pull them both off on one very bad Valentine’s Day.

I think it has to be just about the experience of every guy, who is truly in love with the woman of his dreams, that inevitably, disaster will strike on the worst day of the year that it can happen to him.  Yes gentlemen, and ladies, I am talking about the day of the year that most guys, who are truly in love, try and make the most special for the lady with whom they are in love.  And though we men may get it right most years, every one of us has a Valentine’s Day disaster that makes them cringe every time New Year’s ends, and the Hallmark Channel starts playing Valentine’s Holiday movies.  This is just such a story.  Except, that it was not one disaster on the same day, it was two.  And out of the two disasters that did happen, one of them was not, my wife having the flu.  That’s how bad it was.  My wife having the flu on Valentine’s Day did not even make the top two of things that went wrong.  So instead of this being the story of my St. Valentine’s Day Disaster, this is the story of my St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  And it was all self-inflicted.

The date February 14, 2007.  Valentine’s Day.

We had just moved to Wilmington, NC from Greenville, SC where I had taken a job as Director of Operations for a large kitchen and bathroom cabinet distributor.  Kim, my wife, had not yet found employment, so she had planned an elaborate dinner at home for Valentine’s Day.  Now let me tell you this much.  My wife cannot cook.  She will be the first one to tell you this, so I am not doing any wife bashing here.  This story is completely about my bashing.  So for Kim to prepare an elaborate Valentine’s Day dinner was very special, and a real effort on her part.

A brief history to illustrate my point.  6 years earlier, on the first birthday of mine that I “celebrated” with Kim, I came home to find our dog, Doolie, greeting me at the door, as always, but this time covered in cake batter.  Her curly cue tail was its typical wagging machine, and her tongue was hanging out like nothing had happened.  Daddy was home and it was time to party.  Kim was standing at the door in a red plaid apron with tears in her eyes.  After glancing at the disaster, that was our kitchen, cake batter on the dog was not the only place it landed, and being the eloquent lunk that I am, I asked her a probing and unexpected question, “what happened?”

Lower lip trembling and with eyes moistening, and in the understatement of the year, she said “I tried to make you a cake for your birthday and it didn’t work out.”

“Sweet bean,” I stumbled, “How many dishes did you use?  Was this going to be an 8 layer cake?”

“No,” Her voice quivered, “I tried 3 times to make a cake and burned all 3 of them.  After the second one burned I thought I would play it safe and start making a third cake, you know, just in case.  That’s when I started to smell smoke coming from the oven, turned, and knocked over the bowl with the batter in it.  Doolie, as always, when there was a chance at a snack, was right next to the bowl as it hit the floor, bounced once, and that’s how she got covered.  I knew you would be home soon, sniff, sniff, sniff, and I wanted to get the cake ready, which is why Doolie has not yet been de-battered.”

This was all told to emphasize how much of a cook my wife was not, and how special, and burdensome, it was that she was trying to make a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day.  Unfortunately, for me, or her, you’ll have to be the judge, it gets worse.  She also had the flu.

The flu had been coming on for a couple of days and it was not yet in full debilitating flower, so that morning I told her not to do anything special for Valentine’s Day since she felt so bad.  When she got better we would go do something.  I even asked her, knowing what the answer was ahead of time, “would you like to just go out?”  We never go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. I mean why would you? The crowds are too big, and of course the prices are jacked up 2-3 times the norm because of the “special” menu the chef only prepares for Valentine’s Day.  Well I got a big negatory on that suggestion.

So, at the end of the day I bebop on home half expecting to have to cook/grill something, which is cool, because I know I have steaks in the freezer.  Pop those bad boys on the grill, a little caramelized onion, baked potato, a little chocolate wine that I found earlier that week, and we’re in business.  Little did I suspect I was about to be out of business.

When I got home I found out I didn’t have steaks in the freezer.  Those steaks had been thawed and cooked and were on the table set with our wedding china and a special red rose plant that she had bought especially for the table setting.  Let me tell you what, Kim had made that table look good, food, place setting and all.  She had made Steak Dianne, what looked like fresh asparagus, and strawberry short cake for desert.  I was a little upset with Kim for cooking when she felt as bad as she did, but instead of saying so I said, “Yeah boy, looks good, let’s eat!.”  Take notice, that was the only thing I did right that night.  It goes downhill from here, and fast.

So we sat ourselves down, lights dimmed, candles lit, basking in the glow of our love, but not for long. So, against my better judgement, (remember the cake) I went ahead and took a bite.  I went for the asparagus first because I love asparagus.  Big time, slap me on the fanny and call me Alice, love asparagus.  And this from a guy that usually won’t eat anything that at one point didn’t have a face on it.  Well, not only did the asparagus taste bad, it tasted like feet, no worse, it tasted like feet with fungus.  I don’t mean to intentionally gross anyone out, but the point needs to be made that what happened next was a reflex and not intentional.  I mean what kind of dork spits out food that his wife cooked on Valentine’s Day, despite having the flu, on to their nice wedding china that may have been used maybe 4 times in the last 5 years, unless it was pure reflex?  I need to point out that there was something wrong with the asparagus, and that it was not Kim’s fault, though later on I found out that it actually was her fault. (The asparagus turned out to have come out of the can.)  It did not just taste bad.  It was not just cooked incorrectly.  There was something technically, clinically, and morbidly wrong with the asparagus.  Anyway, in my mouth it went and out of my mouth it came, splat, right on the plate, and right on top of my Steak Dianne.  OOPS!

There are moments in your life when everything just stops.  I am reminded of Clement Clark Moore’s poem, “Twas the night before Christmas.”  Santa is coming, the narrator has jumped out of bed, he’s looking out the window, and sees St. Nick and his reindeer, flying for crying out loud, in bound, things are happening, it’s getting exciting, and then Moore comes in with the line, “As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky…”  I have always felt like that line just stopped everything.  I mean think about it, there’s been a serious clatter, sashes have been thrown open, he sees a fat guy wearing a red suit, in a sleigh, not on the ground, but flying, and being pulled by eight flying reindeer, and all of a sudden dry leaves are flying?  What’s up with that?  In this day and age if something like that happens, particularly in the South, pistols are being pulled, shotguns are being locked and loaded, and serious gunplay is about to take place.  Either that or the jug is passed around one more time because that’s some good hooch!!  But what Moore does is completely slow down time, and the moment is painted in suspension eagerly waiting the next move.

That’s how I felt at that particular moment.  Events were happening, the world was about to crash down, and then right before the dam broke and all hell was about to break loose, time stopped, and dry leaves began flying. I was given time to reflect on the stupid thing that I just did.  Whether intentional or not, it was just stupid.  And I knew that stupid thing was going to have consequences, and the consequences were going to begin just as soon as time decided to reengage itself.  I also knew that there was absolutely nothing I could do about what was coming.  I may not have known specifically what was about to happen, but there was one thing I was sure of, it was going to be bad.  No amount of artillery can be called in to stave off the storm of remuneration that was about to come my way.  No form of conciliatory gesture could protect me from the flood gates that were about to open, and there was nowhere I could run, and no where I could hide, to avoid the world of hurt that was about to come down.

With fresh regurgitation on my plate, and the gods of chronology, having come back from a smoke break, I slowly turned and looked at my wife.  And that’s when it happened.  The eyes started moistening up.  The lower lip started to quiver, remember the cake?  I hastily looked towards her hands and then directly at the steak knife that was easily within her reach, and was temporarily relieved that no movement in the direction of the steak knife was detected.  Later that evening I would regret that she had not made a move towards the knife and then successfully put me out of my misery, but for now, the hands were still and not moving in the general direction of that knife.  Before I could get out, “but honey…” the chair was shoved back, she stood straight up, wiped her mouth like the lady that she is, and stomped out of the dining room, down the hall, into the bedroom, and, what a shock, slammed the door.  And then in a twinkling I heard on the floor (apologies to Clement Moore), click, click, click, tap, tap, tap, trot, trot, trot, and the bedroom door opens.  Click, click, click, tap, tap, tap, trot, trot, trot, and the bedroom door closes.  Instead of reindeer on the roof, the dogs, as soon as Kim had headed down the hallway, jumped up and retreated as well, and unlike my sorry self, were allowed into the bedroom and on to the bedroom carpet. I need to add that the bedroom door was re-slammed with added emphasis that said “Don’t even think about it”.  We had two dogs at the time, one half Australian Shepherd and half Great Dane, and the other, the older one, who had experienced the cake batter, was a mix of Rottweiler, Lab, Doberman, and probably some kind of hound.  I think they both knew I was damaged goods, and figured the safest place to be was somewhere that was not in my vicinity.

So now I am stuck with a dilemma.  It’s every man’s conundrum.  I’ve pretty much screwed the pooch, so what do I do now?  I’ve blown Valentine’s Day. I know the one thing I don’t do, is turn on the TV.  So what do I do?  I look down at my plate, at this fabulous meal my wonderful wife has made, and I ate the rest of it, by myself.  Candles still a glow, plates reflecting in the candle light, lights still dimmed, and me tucking in to steak and strawberry shortcake, solo. Minus the asparagus of course.

You would think that would be the end of the massacre. But regurgitation was only the beginning.  What happened next is more the punch in the gut after the slap/shotgun in the face.  Kim finally emerged from the bedroom about 2 hours later.  I was reading, no TV for me.  I had self-sanctioned.  (Of course I cleaned the table and the kitchen.  I might be stupid but it’s not intentional.  That kitchen was scoured.)  The problem was she emerged 2 hours later with my Valentine’s Day present.  Nothing fancy, but she knows I like movies, we both do, and she had bought me “The Lord of the Rings” DVD extended edition, by Director Peter Jackson.  I’m a big fan.  She had calmed down and was actually okay.  I tried to explain that it was not her fault.  The asparagus had to have something clinically wrong with it, but I only tried that once.  Yes, that is correct, once was once too many.  (I should have just left it alone.  I haven’t taken 9 years to write this story for no good reason.)  But this brings us to where I had done something smart only to have it back fire in my face.

This should have been the point where I produced Kim’s well thought out and planned Valentine’s Day present.  Turns out, an historic blizzard in the Ohio Valley and New England put the cherry on top of this, just most fabulous of all, Cupid Day.  Since Kim was staying at home in those days, and since I had just started my new job, I could not order anything and have it shipped to the house or the office.  I wasn’t yet clear on what the office policy was on getting personal mail, and I didn’t want Kim getting the delivery before Valentine’s Day.  So what I did was order it the day before, and had it overnighted via FedEx, so that it would arrive on Valentine’s Day. Or at least I thought I did.  It was a really nice pair of warm, brown velvet, pajamas.  It was a very good present for Kim.  However this was not to be my day.  The aforementioned blizzard shut down The UPS terminal in Louisville, KY and nothing could get in or out for 2 days.  If I had just Fedexed it, like I thought I had, it would have been routed through Memphis and missed the storm, but NOOOOOO!  It had to be UPS’d.  Not that I have anything against the United Parcel Service, it’s a wonderful company and I am on great terms with our UPS driver.  But I had just hurled up Kim’s meticulously planned and executed Valentine’s dinner, and not only had she not killed me instantly or inflicted some sort of painful bodily injury, but she had just presented me with a really nice gift.  This was the time when I really needed to produce a nice gift.  So what did I have to give to her?  I was the classic wordsmith, “Ummm, honey, you’re not going to believe this, but your gift is sitting on the tarmac in Louisville and won’t get here for a few days because of a snow storm.  But HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!” This is the point where I longed for the steak knife, and wished Kim had put me out of my misery a couple of hours prior.  I just wanted to go somewhere and hide.

But dead people can’t go hide, particularly ones like me who have just been massacred.  I never thought that I could do something worse to my wife than not having a gift for her on Valentine’s Day.

To wrap it up, I’m still married 10 years later.  And you know what Kim actually did believe me when I told her; her present was hung up by a snow storm.  Things went so bad that day, it was actually funny and we still laugh about it.  At least I think she laughs about it.  She hasn’t stabbed me with a steak knife yet.  I think that might be because the pajamas did actually show up a few days later.

Take away lessons:

  1. When your wife cooks you something, eat it and keep it down, then tell her you loved it with extraordinary enthusiasm.
  2. Always have your Valentine’s Day present in hand the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day.
  3. Always have a dog(s) around so that when you royally screw up, I mean the screw ups that are actually your fault, not just the ones your wife says are your fault, they can make your wife feel better while you are banished to some other place she is not.
  4. If you see a fat guy dressed in red, flying in a sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer, don’t shoot, just pass the jug.