notquiteold

Nancy Roman

The Anniversary

Now that I have been working on Flash (short-short) Fiction, I remembered this story I wrote and posted eleven years ago. It was my attempt to think like a man, which I admit, I suck at. I’m seventy-one, and I still have no idea how men think.

****

THE ANNIVERSARY

Ah, damn.  I did it again.

MaryAnn had that hurt puppy look that she reserves for only me.

“I just don’t understand you.  What is so difficult about remembering one single day?”

“I’m really sorry.”  I tried hard to keep my eyeballs stuck right in their sockets, as she always accuses me of rolling my eyes when I am insincere, and I was in enough trouble already.

Years ago, MaryAnn had this framed embroidery thing—she called it cruel, but I never really got that, since I thought it was kinda pretty—that her great-aunt Florence or Flora or some such old lady name—I know, Mildred—gave us for a wedding gift.  It was all little silver bells, and in fancy writing it said, “The bells rang for joy… For MaryAnn and Frank… On this day… July something nineteen something.”  It hung right above the dresser, where I saw it every morning when I put my wallet back in my pocket for the day.  It was sort of like the emission sticker expiration on your car.  It’s not like you really notice it, but it sort of gets absorbed, so you have this physical sense of the date.  But about five years or so ago, MaryAnn redecorated the bedroom and she took the damn thing down.  “It’s way too sweet,” she said, confusing me even more on the cruel thing.  Anyway, there’s been hell to pay ever since.

The first year the embroidery came down, I forgot our anniversary.  MaryAnn was upset and I took her out to eat at one of those too-expensive restaurants, and the next day—well, the next weekend—I went out and bought her pearl earrings.

The second year, I got credit for remembering.  I think MaryAnn must have been complaining at the office because Mike, this guy who sits near MaryAnn in the next cube, calls me at work—at WORK—and says, whispering-like, “It’s your anniversary.  MaryAnn would really like flowers.  And sent to the office, so everyone will know what a prince you are.”  “I owe you,” I said.  “No shit,” said Mike, “a case of Rolling Rock.”  Man, I was in good shape for weeks that year.

But Mike transferred to Claims a few months later.  And I haven’t remembered since.

So MaryAnn was sitting across the table from me, with a look on her face like she just broke a toe.

“I really am sorry.  You know I have a terrible memory,” I tried again.

“You don’t seem to have a bad memory for other things.  If this was important to you, you’d remember.  You just don’t care.”

Now it was taking real work for my eyes not to be pinging around my head.  Why can’t she just TELL me?  Why can’t she just warn me a day or so ahead?  But no, she’s got this goddamn idea that if I don’t remember myself it doesn’t count.

“No honey, it’s real important to me. The best day of my life.  I’m just shit-for-brains with dates.”

“Oh, yeah?” she countered.  “I bet you remember the day you bought your first car.”

“Um, not really.  A Ford, maybe.  I don’t remember much about it.”  I added, “I’m sorry I’m such a fuck-up.  I’ll make it up to you.  I will.  Would you like to go to Newport for the weekend?  I could buy you one of those tennis bracelets.  Not with little tennis racquets, like I thought at Christmas, but with the real diamonds like you showed me.”

“I know you love me,” MaryAnn said.  I think I had softened her a little.  “But it hurts when you don’t remember our wedding day.”

If I could get her to smile, I would be past the quicksand part.  “Can we hang up that embroidery thing that your aunt made?  How about in the bathroom?”

She laughed.  All set for a year, except for the diamond bracelet part.  There goes a grand.

It was June twenty-first, 1970.  I was sixteen.  I wanted a car so bad.  “How much money do you have?” my old man asked.  I had three hundred and twenty dollars.  We went to the used car lot that one of his poker buddies ran, and we picked out a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500.  It had a police intercept 390 and a two-barrel carburetor.  We took it out and it went one hundred and ten down Route 72.  No problem.  My dad handed over my money.  We changed the automatic to a 3-speed tranny, and then it went one-thirty-five.  It had silver gray interior, but the exterior was a girly cream color.  I re-painted it this great Mopar color, Blue Fire Metallic, although I have no use for any Mopar product now.  Man, I wish I still had that car.  I loved that car.

#

1963 Ford Galaxie photographed at the Rassembl...

15 Comments

  1. Oh yeah. That’s a man. You hit the nail right on the head! Well done.

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  2. Gabi Coatsworth

    Sounds right to me 🙂

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  3. Barbara Lindsey

    Yep, sad but true. Nicely done.

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  4. Deb

    Portions of that sounded just like my ex-husband. How about a sequel since I’m sure MaryAnn must have wised up and dumped Frank at some point.

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    • I think MaryAnn just stopped expecting him to remember and told him that their anniversary was coming up. Several reminders, as a matter of fact.

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  5. Kaye Hamilton-Smith

    Perfect! Men are so different from us!

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  6. My husband’s was a GTO. LOL I’m glad to see you sat that MaryAnn started giving reminders. I really hate it when people get upset over this kind of thing; I see it as passive/aggressive. Probably because my mother was the queen of it.

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  7. dragon

    Lovely. Thanks for sharing. I must be odd, I never worried about whether he remembered or not. I was the person who had all this stuff written down. Although he did remember my birthday. Which I eventually wanted him to forget …

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  8. Great.

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  9. I think that’s a great example of how a lot of men think!

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  10. I laughed when I got to the cruel but sweet part…

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  11. You have to give him credit for being smart enough to “not remember” his first car on the fly. In our house, I’m the one who never remembers when we got married. I think it is a mental block 😉

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  12. This same topic has come in in several readings I have discovered this week. I used to be MaryAnn. Until I realized, he wasnt forgetting because it wasnt meaningful to him… he just needed reminders. So not every year I say… our anniversary is next week…. what should we do for each other?

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  13. Paula

    That’s it, all right!

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  14. Our 26th anniversary was May 31. Two days before my birthday, May 17, my husband fell and broke his hip. He had Parkinson’s, and that fall was the beginning of the end. He died July 21. Funny, he did remember birthdays and anniversaries, but not this year.

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