What NOT to Buy Your Wife For Your Anniversary


A few weeks ago I returned home from the Big ‘N Not So Tall store to find our vacuum cleaner—or what was left of it—out by the street with the garbage cans. I went inside and found Rusty cowering in the kitchen. “Hey, buddy, what happened to the vacuum?”

He looked around before he answered, then whispered, “It broke a little. Then mom broke it a lot. She kind of…destroyed it. I wouldn’t ask her about it.”

I was kind of surprised at this news. Very odd behavior coming from my mellow, ever-patient bride. I knew that the five-year-old Kenmore POS™ canister model was on its last legs, as the cord wouldn’t retract and the power kept cutting out at inappropriate times (read: whenever you were vacuuming), but I didn’t expect Barb to snap and go all Tom Cruise on it. (“I’m cancelling your warranty.” CRUNCH!)

But then I took these lemons I was given and decided to make guacamole. We have an anniversary coming up, and what better way to demonstrate my undying love and devotion to my soul mate than to present her with a brand new vacuum cleaner! Hell, I’d even spring for the stair-cleaning attachment. Nothing’s too good for my wife.

Fortunately I was headed off at the pass by a wise, sympathetic friend. I’d stopped by his house on the way to Sears and told him about my plan (“I even picked out a green one to go with her eyes”), and he sat me down to explain a few things about anniversaries.

First, and most importantly, he told me, the responsibility for celebrating wedding anniversaries falls completely on the husband. Not fair, he agreed, but that’s just the way it is. Kind of like sex after ten years of marriage. Only with sex, the whole “gift receipt” thing can be kind of awkward.

Second, do not buy your wife any kind of cleaning devices or cooking hardware or anything like that that suggests you see her only as a domestic engineer.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” I said. “I got her a beautiful matched set of quality Rubbermaid food storage containers for her birthday last October. She seemed to really like it.”

My friend looked dubious. “And how long was it after presenting her with this gift that you two had sex?”

I rubbed my chin with a knuckle. “Still waiting, actually.”

“See there? Women want romance, not practicality.”

I thought about the trio of color-coordinated toilet brushes hidden in the coat closet, still in their shopping bag. No dice. The bamboo lap tray I bought so she could serve me breakfast in bed? Nix. That new laundry basket that I’d actually inscribed her initials on with a soldering iron? No way. And now I couldn’t return it.

“So,” I asked my friend, “you’re saying any kitchen-oriented gift is out of bounds?”

“Not necessarily,” he said, taking a leisurely pull on his hand-carved Meerschaum pipe. He expelled a cloud of cherry-scented smoke. “Something like artwork or a whimsical decoration would be acceptable, if not spectacular.”


Happy Anniversary, darling. I wrapped it myself!

“What about a Splatter Screen?”

“No Splatter Screen.”

“How about one of those green frying pans? I could get her that PLUS the Splatter Screen. She could start cooking chorizo right away.”

He shook his head. “No, think of her femininity. Remember that this is a woman we’re talking about. The beautiful creature you married.”

“So…a pink frying pan?”

He squeezed his eyes shut as if he was attacked by a sudden pain in his head. “Tell me this, how many years have you been married?”
“Well, I don’t remember exactly. We’re on our third Splatter Screen, whatever that tells you. Need a new one.”

“No Splatter Screen. Why don’t you go the traditional route? Present her with a nice bouquet, something not from the grocery store. Give her a small box of fine chocolates. Take her to a play. She adores theatre, no?”

“Well, I could…hey, how do you know that?”

My friend tamped down another load of material into his pipe and crossed his legs, a lavender, bedazzled Croc dangling loosely from his toes. “Oh, we talk.” He held a strike-anywhere match above the bowl and ignited the fresh plug. This time it did not smell like cherry. It smelled like burning rope. Medicinal burning rope.

“So, let me get this straight,” I said, counting off on my fingers. “No vacuum cleaner, no frying pan, no toilet brush, no Rubbermaid. No Splatter Screen, no Fry Baby, no bagel-slicing frame, no dish rack, no Swiffer mop, no dryer sheet dispenser…”  I removed a shoe. “…no laundry basket, no scrub brushes, no shelf liner and certainly no brooms.”

My friend hung his head, spilling a few ashes onto his silk kimono. “I am sad for you. Just do this: go to Rockin’ Rudy’s and ask the woman in the body care department what she herself might like as an intimate gift. A sensual gift. That’s really all I can tell you.”

With that, he tapped his pipe empty into an ashtray made from the bottom half of a bowling pin, and led me to his front door. We hugged and I stepped into the bright light of a day full of opportunity. I turned back to my friend. “How about massage oil?” I said.

My friend nodded and puffed. “By George, I think he’s got it.”

I spread my hands in triumph. “That’s it! I’ll get her some nice massage oil. Something that smells good. Something that feels good.”

“Bravo!” said my friend.

“Yeah, you know, for those times I want to massage her hands with my back.”

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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