Birthday Drive-In

My husband is really big on birthdays.  The first birthday we ever spent together was my 19th birthday (!!!  19!?  I was just a kid!).  His gifts to me were so perfectly planned -so sentimental.  He gave me “Hidalgo,” the movie we saw on our first date.  He gave me “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” because I had RAVED about it and to make matters better… he gave me the soundtrack!  He gave me a pink fleece blanket, a carton of cotton candy (pink, which he ate), picture frames to fill our soon-to-be-ours apartment, and he also gave me a brand new pair of RED shoes because he knew how much I loved the red shoes I wore nearly every day.  When he saw a new shiny pair, he thought of me and he bought them.

It was so darn sweet, I could hardly stand it.  Every year -RIGHT when I wake up, he has a birthday gift wrapped and waiting for me.

WELL, this year I got one of the best gifts EVER!  He sent me to a three-day retreat with my Mom in Utah.  Kid free!  Amazing classes!  New haircut and color!  And I couldn’t be more grateful… but the retreat was August 1-3rd… and my birthday is the 16th.  That meant I woke up on the 16th with no present.  Which was fine.  I knew I had already gotten my rather expensive gift (we saved for a year), and I was fine.

The night of the 15th, my husband asked “What are your plans tomorrow?”
I told him the truth, “I have to go through all of our clothes and get rid of what we don’t need. I’m donating them to the clothing exchange going on this week.”
“Oh,” he said, “Cool.”
And then we went to bed.

The next morning, after a birthday kiss, he went to work. I set to washing all of the kids’ clothes. All day long I was under a pile of laundry. I received facebook birthday messages and answered them all right back because -let’s face it -I was sitting on the couch under a literal mountain of laundry.

But it was okay. I mean, really. Is laundry what I wanted to do on my birthday? Not really, but it wasn’t bad. I streamed chick flicks and I enjoyed reading all of my sweet facebook messages.
As the day went on, my daughter’s behavior got progressively worse.
She broke one of my Willow Tree figurines -the one given to me by an Aunt as a graduation gift.
Worse: she lied about it -tried to blame her brother.
She’s also in a correcting phase. As in: every time I do something wrong, she lets me know.
“You’re not wearing your seat belt.”
“We don’t do that Mom.”
I listened to her correction all day long and tried to SMILE about it. Because it was my BIRTHDAY and we’re SUPPOSED to be HAPPY ABOUT IT. After her brother went down for a nap, she asked me for some ice cream.
I dished her out some, putting a spoonful of ice cream in my mouth as I did.
“Mom, where did we get the ice cream?” She asked as I was forking it into my mouth.
“Hannah,” I replied, my mouth full.
“Mom, we don’t talk with our mouths full,” she chimed.
I gritted down on that ice cream and replied, “That’s right. We don’t.”

After a thorough lecture from her father last night about sneaking food into her room, she snuck a pile of chocolate animal crackers into her room, spilled them, stepped on them and then LAUGHED in my face when I spanked her. And when I got after her for laughing, she laughed at me again. Three times.

But I shook it off. My husband would be coming home soon. My sister had offered to take the kids for a while that night… it would all be okay.
Then I got a text from my husband telling me he might not be able to make it home in time to go out.

At that point, I threw caution to the wind and busted out the bag of cookie dough I had frozen a few weeks earlier. I sat on top of my clean laundry and ATE cookie dough. And I liked it.

I had tentatively planned a creative date. I always plan creatively when we don’t have much cash, you know. We’re at the end of our pay period, and I thought it might be fun to hit up Red Box, buy a few snacks, and take my lap top out somewhere and watch a movie… create our own little drive in, so to speak. Just the thought made me sing, “Stranded at the Drive-in” without stopping for, oh… four hours. give or take.

Word came at 7:30 that my husband was on his way home. He would make it home a little late but JUST in time for us to go out. I was emotionally drained. I was tired of laundry. BUT IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY and I WAS HAPPY. I got ready. I teased my hair and sprayed perfume on and applied lip stick. I fed my kids (I wasn’t hungry on account of the cookie dough) and when my husband got home, I had the car fully loaded and I WAS READY TO GET THE FRACK OUTTA THERE!

After dropping the kids off, I remarked, “I’m so tired. Let’s just go rent a movie, grab some take out and go home to watch the movie.”
“Um,” he started with some trepidation, “I have to be to work early, so if we’re going to watch a movie we need to do it now.”
And that’s what did it.
I didn’t want to try and be happy anymore. I didn’t care if it was my birthday anymore. I didn’t want to watch a movie if we were going to be rushed. I didn’t want to grab take out or sit down because I wasn’t hungry.
You know what I wanted at that point?
My bed.

We drove into town to rent a movie. By then, my husband had figured out that I wasn’t exactly hyped up for a party. He asked me to please smile.
But I thought it would be cool to cry instead.
“Please can we just go home?” I pleaded, “It’s late. I don’t want to leave the kids forever. I don’t want food. Let’s just go home.”
“Okay,” he said, wrapping his arm around me.
We drove home, tears filled my eyes… it wouldn’t have been a huge problem except I was driving. We neared an exit, and my husband said, “Get off here. Turn around.”
“Please,” my heart sunk, “Please let’s just go home.”
“Pull off,” he said, gently, “I’ll drive now. Let’s go back into town for a few snacks and then I promise we’ll just go home.”
“Okay,” I nodded, the promise of HOME ringing in my heart.

As we pulled into the parking lot, he turned the car off.
“I’ll be right back,” he said.
“I’m coming with you,” I replied.
There was a reason for it, you know. There was a reason I braved the late night crowd at Safeway with tear-stained eyes. I knew that if I left my husband alone he would buy me flowers.
I didn’t want flowers.
Feel free to judge me for what I’m about to say. I judge me.
Growing up, my Dad always ordered flowers for my mother. I used to sit and stare at them on the kitchen table. They were the most wonderful arrangements I’d ever seen, and they were a symbol… I just knew -every time I looked at those arrangements -that my Dad really, truly loved my mother. My husband has always been a stickler for flowers. He makes sure I have them for every possible occasion that you SHOULD have flowers. Valentines, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays…
He’s sentimental and sweet, really. An amazing man!
That’s why I never had the heart to tell him that what I really wanted… was those expensive arrangements in custom vases with cards sticking out of them.
Can you blame me for not wanting to tell him?! I HATED myself for it! I blame my father! He SPOILED the whole idea for me! (I jest, Papa. I jest.)
Danny has always been so sweet about getting me flowers. Always roses.
I finally had the courage to tell him that I don’t care for roses, and it pained me to the core. How many women out there would kill to have a husband like mine that brought them roses whenever occasion permitted? I know this! That’s why I felt like I jerk telling him the truth. Ever since then, he’s brought me beautiful bouquets of daisies, sunflowers (my favorite), lilies… he’s wonderful.
But last night, I didn’t want a Safeway bouquet. I wanted to cry and I wanted my bed and I knew that if I went with him into the store, he wouldn’t buy me any flowers.
Don’t I sound like the worst person on earth right now? Yes, I do. I know I do. I despise myself.
“Pick out some ice cream,” he said to me in the freezer section, “And I’ll be right back.”
“No,” I said softly, grabbing his arm, “Just stay.”
“No,” he said, less softly and pulled away, “I’ll be right back.”
“Danny, don’t get me flowers.”
“I wanted to get them earlier! I’m promise -I just didn’t have the time and I -”
“I don’t want them,” I admitted, quietly.
“But I always get them,” his shoulders dropped.
“I know,” I nodded, wanting to slap myself for what I was about to say, “I just don’t want them unless they’re… ordered.”
“Did I spoil you with your Valentine’s bouquet?” He smiled (for the first time in our married life, he ordered me a bouquet for Valentine’s Day -a dozen beautiful red roses, and despite the fact that roses aren’t my favorite, I was over the moon. Swoonin’. Smitten. Done for. Absolutely done for.
“I’ve actually always been this way,” I said, carefully.
“Always?” The poor beautiful man looked like I had just taken a mallet to his heart.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked, honestly wanting to know.
“Because you’ve always been the sweetest man in the world,” I wrapped my arms around him in the middle of the freezer section, “And I didn’t want to admit to myself let alone to you that I’m a high maintenance jerk.”
Much to my relief, he laughed.
And we went home without flowers.

We picked out Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for each other, and then we snagged some IBC cream soda and brownies.
Seven years ago, we took some IBC cream soda and Little Debbie Brownies out by a baseball field at night, we parked the car, watched a wildfire burn on a nearby mountain, drank our cream soda and ate our brownies… and in all actuality we FELL ASLEEP. But we didn’t stay there all night.
The cops woke us up.

In memorandum, we bought our cream soda and brownies (I thought we had bought IBC root beer that night, but Danny reminded me it was really IBC cream soda. See what I mean? The man is GOLD). And then my husband took the wheel.

He drove us out to my family’s land west of town. He unloaded our car which hasn’t exactly been completely cleaned up from our camping trip, he put the seats down:
Within a matter of minutes, we had our own mini drive in. (Check out that “Rango” preview!)
The movie didn’t work all that well on account of it’s being scratched all to heck, but it didn’t matter.
I shifted in my seat and suddenly music started playing.
From under my seat.
One of Lacy’s toys had fallen behind the seat -a Disney Princess “CD” player. It sang and sang and sang… and we laughed harder with every song.
I tried my hardest not to move, but it was impossible. If I didn’t move, I couldn’t have any brownies! I also couldn’t resist singing “Grease.”
I secretly wanted to say, “Meant something to you! You think I’m going to stay here with you in this? this sin wagon? You can take this piece of tin!” and throw my ring at him while I bailed out of the car and ran through Grandpa’s field.
I hoped he would yell, “You can’t just walk out of a drive in!” after me, but I was child locked in my own car.
So I just sat there instead. like a normal person.

In the end, after I had a brownie and a cream soda and a few bites of rich ice cream and a few laughs over “Dinner with Shmucks” I was right as rain.
My husband is a miracle worker -a magical man. A wizard.

As packed up and drove off, my husband hummed “Little Mermaid” songs, thanks to my daughter’s toy.
We picked the kids up two hours after we dropped them off, and I tried to get a good picture of them.
I failed.

And please tell me I’m not the only one who gets excited to see their birth date on stuff. And yes, I still get a rush when I see my birth date on the milk jug. right under “exp.”


  1. Jamie Burt says:

    Glad you’re birthday came to a great end! P.S. Your so pretty!

  2. Stephanie says:

    How funny, I always thought I was the only who got excited when I saw my birth date on a milk or juice carton. I’m so glad your Bithday turned out good and you look gorgeous!!

  3. May I just que a huge, “AWWWWW!!!”

  4. That smile is genuine in that photo. Miracle worker, indeed! Good job, ol’ Deputy Dan.

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