Sincerely Sire Newsletter-January 2004



   January 20

The Big Surprise

The holiday season went off pretty much without a hitch at the Sire household, meaning there were no major blowouts at the Christmas dining room table.

For some reason Roe made barbequed chicken instead of cooking a turkey, other than that there were no big surprises. Our daughters, as usual, were home for the holidays. And, oh yeah, wait a minute, I forgot, there was one big surprise, I surprised Rosemarie for our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary which falls on December 30. It was great. Here’s how the catastrophe unfolded …

Things actually started out pretty well, seeing as how I remembered our anniversary a full day before the big event. I put off buying her a card until the next day though—no sense in rushing things. I sauntered on down to the local Hallmark store and spent a great deal of time picking out the perfect card, honestly, I did—I read every anniversary card in the shop before making my selection. I remember wishing she could “see me now” getting all teary eyed and sentimental as I read each and every one of them.

Next I took her out to a very nice, very expensive dinner at The Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach where we always go for our anniversary. We shared caviar and a fine bottle of red wine called Pinot somethingerother. The main course was sumptuous, even magnificent. And we talked. We really talked—with heartfelt love and unbelievable affection. I looked right into her eyes the whole time. It was intense. There was a glow about her, a certain longing in her eyes that I hadn’t seen in many a year. It seemed she loved me even more than ever before. I felt exactly like one of those male suitors on that Joe Bachelor TV show—and I was winning. Where were the cameras? The lights? I was doing so good. Where was my million dollars? She had chosen me!

So how come on the way home, from out of nowhere she says, “You know, I thought for our 29th wedding anniversary you would have bought me something really nice?”

I guess she meant instead of nothing—as in, the not-so-really-nice nothing at all that I did buy her.

Talk about being blindsided. Talk about being ambushed. Talk about being speechless. My mouth hung open in stunned silence like the gored matador impaled helplessly upon the bull’s horns. The only thing missing was the blood, my blood, which she wanted, all of it.

What happened? Could it be that all the time I thought I was doing    really good at dinner, that the longing I saw in her eyes, that the special glow, was actually her basic animal womanly anticipation of receiving an expensive material gift from her cheapskate uncaring husband? Well, if she was looking for the big surprise—and she was—I sure delivered—absolutely nothing.


So here’s what she says next, “Only kidding. I’m not serious.”

HA HA HA HA HA! She was serious all right.

I knew this because after we got home, she really ripped into me. “Why wouldn’t you get me something nice? Because you don’t care that’s why. Because you’re a callous uncaring dog. If we were dating you would have bought me something nice. You just don’t care do you? Nothing means anything to you does it?”

I didn’t know what to say, except to point out to her that if we were dating we wouldn’t be married and there would be no anniversary, but under the circumstances I decided that would not be such a good idea, so I just shut up and kept feeling smaller and smaller and smaller. In fact I remember trying to become completely invisible altogether. Then, after about a minute of excruciating silence—for me—exhilarating for her—she says this: Oh, I’m only kidding. I really don’t care.”

She said that again. She really did.

“Look,” I said, “is our wedding anniversary a gift thing? Do we give gifts? We never give gifts. Only that one year when we were fighting really bad did we exchange gifts. We’re not fighting this year, or at least we weren’t. Besides, I bought you something for Christmas and your birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Am I supposed to buy you gifts for Christmas, and on our anniversary and on your birthday?”

“When else do you buy me anything?” When was the last time you went out and impulsively bought me something nice?” she says.

I thought, that’s like asking me when was the last time I went out and impulsively stuck needles in my eyes, but then thought better of saying that too, and instead replied, “Well, what about that new car in the garage? I bought you that just last month?”

“Yeah, well, but that wasn’t a personal gift.” (She had me there. I got that car for her because it had the navigation system so she could show and sell more houses.)

To my mild relief and great surprise, the night ended with her feeling a tiny bit sorry for me, I think. She kept trying to convince me that she was indeed only kidding, which, of course, she wasn’t and isn’t. But at least she tried to ease my suffering a little, now that she had sent me her message—loud, clear and convincing. And I did get the message …

  However, in my defense, here are my thoughts on the subject:

1.      I hate to go shopping.

2.      In spite of my dislike for shopping I had purchased her clothes for Christmas from her favorite store.

3.      I remembered our anniversary and made a special trip to get her a nice Hallmark card, and I took her out to a very nice dinner and I talked longingly and lovingly with her.

4.      Anniversaries and birthdays were hardly ever celebrated in my family. Gifts were rarely given or exchanged. It’s my parents’ fault.

5.      Most importantly, our next anniversary will be the big  3-0 and I know I will be getting her something very nice for that one.

6.      I do buy her stuff impulsively all the time, well some of the time at least, well, once I did …Well, shoot, she’s always buying herself stuff impulsively all the time anyway. I can’t keep up.

7.      We don’t regularly exchange gifts on our anniversary. What are the rules here?

Now, this last one, #7, brings up an important and critical question that I would like a little feedback on, from you, my unemotional friends and neighbors. This could be crucial in deciding my guilt—or innocence—yes, innocence. Maybe I am not the dog that Rosemarie says I am.

What is the commonly accepted tradition for anniversaries in this country? Is it typically a time when gifts are exchanged, or is the husband just supposed to buy the wife something? Are flowers enough? A nice dinner? Or are there, typically, no gifts exchanged? Just a card? What is the norm? Was I out of line in not buying her a gift? Did I drop the ball, or did Roe overreact? I would really appreciate your comments. If they support my position I will certainly share them with Roe. And, if they don’t, well, I will just do my best to get to the email delete button first. Please email your comments to

Oh, yeah, one other thing, and I’m really struggling with this one. What about Roe’s birthday? It is coming up on January 20, do you think I should get her something? Something really nice?  

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