Monday, June 23, 2008


Twenty-two years ago today, I went to a birthday party that changed my life. Actually, I missed the party proper because I was at work, dutifully bagging the groceries of the soccer moms of 1986. And I hadn't planned on going to the party at all, which meant that I didn't have a gift. At the urging of my friends and a little voice inside my head that would not be ignored, I decided I'd head to the party after work. I did my best with a last-minute gift found mainly on the toy aisle of the large supermarket where I worked. I don't remember everything that I put in that little brown sack, but I do remember one item in particular: a thin rubber bracelet that spelled out the word "WONDERFUL." When, after my shift, I drove to what was left of the party and gave that bracelet (with assorted and sundry other items) to the newly 16-year-old girl who was later to become my wife, I couldn't have known how appropriate a gift it was.

Of all the words I could use to describe the woman whose birthdays I've celebrated (and agonized over) for 23 consecutive years now, "wonderful" comes closest to the mark. She is full of wonders even now, even when you'd think I've seen them all, even though she secretly worries that she's become just another harried Mommy at the park. It's not just that she's crazy smart (though she is) or crazy beautiful (though she is). And it's not just that she has that thing that my mother insists on calling "creativity," making it sound like she spends her free time thinking of things she could hot-glue sequins onto. She's incredibly talented, of course, which never ceases to amaze me, since I've got plenty of skill but not much that could be called talent. Her sense of humor is so good it's actually frustrating, since I spend large parts of every day wishing I had said whatever she just said. And she's the coolest person I know, mainly because she doesn't really care whether other people think she's cool. But none of these descriptions are sufficient. What makes her so wonderful is the intangible whatever that is created by the combination of all these things, as processed by her whacked-out head that sees the world in a way that nobody else I've ever met does. Her whole, in other words, is much more than the sum of her parts.

What's great is that I figured all of this out (or intuited it, at any rate) that night in 1986, when I came late to her birthday party and gave her a ridiculous gift made up of items bought on a grocery store toy aisle. She smiled when she opened it, ad it was all over for me. Within two weeks we were officially an item, and I finally understood what being in love meant. Twenty-two years later, I still can't believe my luck.

So Happy Birthday, Miss Goddess. In the words of the Moldy Peaches, I don't see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.