Happy Birthday, and Why are You Looking at Me That Way?

Just before my wife turned 40, she told me not to buy her a birthday gift. She said she’d be too depressed to enjoy it. Fool that I am, I thought she meant it. So when her birthday arrived, I caught all kinds of hell when all I got her was a card. I made it up by driving her to a jewelry store that day and buying her a silver chain. I got off the hook.

When her 50th birthday approached I grilled her hard.

“Do you, or do you not, want a gift?”

“I guess. Yeah.”

“What kind of gift?”

“I don’t know. Surprise me.”

“I can’t read minds.”

“I don’t know what I want! And I don’t like thinking about turning 50! Can we change the subject?”

Well at least I had a green light to get her a gift. Now I had to rack my brain to figure out what she’d like.

We went on a road trip a few months before the dreaded day. We stopped at a motel, and the clerk told us that if we had AARP we could get a 5% discount. Did we really look that old? But my wife mentioned how nice that clerk was to try to get us a discount. Light bulb moment. Yes that’s right, I thought, she really loves a bargain. She loves discounts.

Later, I did some research. I made phone calls. Bingo! Here was a gift she’d really love. What a genius I am! Yes, that’s what I really thought. Genius.

The day arrived. The big number 50. That morning I set her gift out, wrapped in pretty paper in front of the TV. She was still sleepy, and seemed a bit depressed. But she was also curious about the thin, flat object wrapped in a bow. After her birthday kiss, she opened it. And then she knitted her brows. It was a copy of AARP magazine.

I knew she’d be a little confused, but I had an explanation at the ready. “My sweet dear, for your 50th birthday I have bought you a membership to AARP! You can’t be a member until you’re 50 years old. But now you qualify, and now you’re a member. And now you can always get that 5% AARP discount!”

“What does AARP stand for?”

“American Association of Retired Persons.”

“You mean it’s like a club for old people?”

“Well, um, not that you’re old, I mean, you’re at the youngest qualifying age, and you’re not retired, because you’re too young for that, but, but just think . . . the 5% discount!”

“You fucking asshole! Are you fucking with me?!” She slammed the magazine down and ran back to the bedroom, huffing and crying.

Mea culpa. Word of warning, guys. Learn from a man who was almost divorced. Never, ever, give your wife the gift of AARP for her birthday.

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