My wife’s birthday (or, my boss watches out for me)

Before I left work today, I stopped by my supervisor’s newsroom desk.

For some reason, the conversation turned to my wife’s birthday.

When I mentioned that it’s this week, he gave me a concerned side-eye and asked, “Did you take the day off?”



Donuts are awesome, but they don’t always make things better

The strong storms that spawned tornadoes in the Deep South then swept up the East Coast this week damaged homes and other buildings and caused widespread power outages.

They wreaked havoc, notably in Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

They also brought winds that howled through our neighborhood, especially Wednesday night. But they weren’t strong enough to disturb me.

I slept through them.


I’m a professional.

That’s not to say the storms caught me completely off guard. I was at work Tuesday night when a tornado tore through the Florida Panhandle. And I was awake enough Wednesday afternoon to take notice of the wind and rain pelting our neighborhood. I even cautioned our son to wait for the weather to calm down before driving home from school.

But if one of our bleary eyed dog-walking neighbors had been out on the street in front of our house when I emerged before sunrise Thursday, it would not have occurred to me to ask something like “storm keep ya up last night?” I would have merely greeted them with the usual “Good morning.”

The wind was still blowing strong when I left our house earlier than normal Thursday. But I didn’t find the weather unusual. It’s supposed to be blustery in February.

Besides, I was preoccupied. It was my wife’s birthday. And one of the birthday traditions at our house involves, wait for it … fresh donuts!

I came home with an assortment that included the standard glazed and my favorite chocolate cake, but also a few topped with birthday appropriate pink icing and celebratory sprinkles. A couple were spiked with a brownie filling, others with Boston Cream Pie custard.

All were crowd pleasers.

However, they weren’t enough to totally distract me once I learned just how strong the storms had been.

I had a mouth full of glazed chocolate cake goodness when my wife said the storms woke her several times and that she had been worried their fury would topple neighborhood trees.

I had no such worries because up until then, I was oblivious.

Later that morning, I was back outside. The winds were still kicking up when I took our daughter and her BFF to school.

When I got back, I took a quick spin around our neighborhood. I didn’t really think I’d find any damage, but I was curious, especially since the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado just four hours drive time from the Eastern Panhandle, in the small town of Waverly, Virginia. Three people were killed there Wednesday afternoon.

Aside from the lingering wind, everything seemed normal around our house, if unnaturally gray.

As I write this, I’m alone with the remaining donuts left in their box on our kitchen counter.

I could ignore them or scarf them down and worry about fitting into my jeans this weekend.

I have a trivial decision to make.

And I am grateful for that.

Those who have lost their homes have much more important things on their mind than a stupid box of donuts.

Oops! Bet you didn’t think I had anything in common with Rick Perry

I ran across a new study this week that has me a little worried.  It suggests that mild memory problems may be more common in men than women.

That may be more obvious than worrisome, but it’s what the study from the respected Mayo Clinic says next that concerns me.  It says such “senior moments” could actually be a form of forgetfulness that may lead to dementia as men get older.  And I am getting older, as my 10-year-old daughter pointed out the other day.

“You are so 45,” she told me.

I replied that I’m actually closer to 48, but that just confirmed her theory.  “People over 45 can’t remember anything,” she said.

This exchange was prompted by a promise I had made.  Despite my customary resistance to annoying my co-workers with our kids’ fund raising activities, I had agreed to take our daughter’s Girl Scout cookie order form to work.

Truth be told, I didn’t mind.  That’s because Girl Scout cookies transcend the average fund-raiser.  They are welcome everywhere.  Who doesn’t break into a smile just thinking about ordering a box of Girl Scout cookies?

On the day I was supposed to take the order form, our daughter found it on the kitchen counter.  Her disappointment led to our discussion about age and memory.

The form eventually made it to the office, but I’m notorious for letting such things slip through the cracks.  And, while my mental lapses may not be as public as Texas Governor Rick Perry’s “oops” moment was back in November, they are just as distressing.

For example, just after our daughter helpfully reminded me that I am becoming a man of a certain age, I stood up a friend of mine for lunch. While I sat at home in my favorite chair, happily enjoying a day off from work, he ended up dining alone.  I felt so bad about it that I picked up the tab when we had lunch the following week.  I think he was just relieved I actually remembered to show up.

These fresh incidents of forgetfulness come at a time of year when I’m under enormous pressure to keep my head in the game.  My wife’s birthday is coming up soon and if I want the chill of the season to remain outdoors, I won’t repeat the mistake I made a few years ago.  That’s when I forgot her big day.  At the time, my wife let me go far too long before reminding me.  When she finally did, it was too late to do anything more than try to make it up to her with a panic buy of flowers and a card.

My wife laughs about it now and she loves to tell that story.  But she tells it with so much gusto that sweat starts breaking out on my brow, my hands get moist, my mouth gets dry and I start thinking that maybe more flowers and a card are in order.

The time I actually forgot her birthday” story is always told at least once this time of year. I think it’s my wife’s way of warning me.  She also drops other hints – most of them so obvious even I have the capacity to catch on.  Just the other day, she asked me what we should do ON HER BIRTHDAY!

I don’t think she wants a repeat any more than I do.  That’s why she, and now my daughter these days, do what they can to keep me out of trouble.

Which reminds me, if you need a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies I can probably hook you up.  Just make sure I write down your order and give it to my daughter.  Unless, of course, you want a good story to hang over my head.