Husbands and Birthdays

by Jennifer Ryan

Last year, I broke a cardinal rule of marriage. I forgot my husband’s birthday. In my defense, the weeks leading to his birthday had been an ordeal. MC’s and A-bug’s birthdays are about three weeks apart. The week prior to A-bug’s birthday party, we both got strep throat. We were sick with high fevers. My mom flew into town with my nephew to help with the birthday party festivities. My nephew got sick too. We decided that our guests wouldn’t want a homemade cake baked with love and anthrax, so we bought a cake instead. Somehow, we managed to scrape together a party at the last minute. About a week after A-bug’s party, he started running a fever again. I didn’t leave the house for another week. Turns out he was cutting his last set of molars, but I didn’t learn that little tidbit of information until much later. My husband came home from work Friday and said, “So…I guess we’re not doing anything for my birthday tomorrow.” Oh holy Jesus.

I could imagine my future, and the road was paved with a lifetime of yeah-buts. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “yeah-but” is a statement based on a previous, egregious sin, and it is used to deflect a current, minor sin. An example goes something like this: “Honey, did you forget to take the trash out today?” “Yeah, but remember that time you forgot my birthday?” Luckily, Jesus intervened on my behalf this year. My birthday was approaching, and my husband hadn’t mentioned any plans. I could see the writing on the wall. On my birthday, MC saw the date on his phone and got the familiar deer-trapped-in-headlights look on his face that spells disaster. I could have said something, but I let the days tick off the calendar without a word. Some people might call my inaction “passive aggressive,” but I call it marriage. Even the scorecard and level the playing field, whenever and wherever you can ladies.

With our scores tied, I decided to do something special for MC this year. I asked him what he wanted for a special dinner, and I planned accordingly. He said that he wanted a beef stew and a red velvet cake for dessert. After scouring the Internet, I found a wonderful red velvet cake recipe. Thank you Pinterest! The New York Times featured the original red velvet cake first invented in the forties and recommended an ermine icing, also the original icing intended to finish the cake. I’ve learned something about myself. I will never be a professional baker. I lack attention to detail. I get impatient and transition into oh-who-cares territory pretty quickly. The recipe called for a three-layer cake. I watched videos on YouTube about leveling and trimming a round cake, but I never could level it correctly. Each cake layer split a little on top because it wasn’t quite level. Oh well. I just spackled with icing. I didn’t trim the hard edges off the top of the layers either, and I wish I had. Some of the icing didn’t quite cover them. If you make this recipe one day, I suggest making extra icing. I think one and a half times the recipe would give you plenty of icing to do the job. The appearance didn’t really matter. I’ve never been a huge fan of red velvet cake, but this cake changed my opinion. The cake was moist and delicious. The icing was perfect, not too sweet.

Not only was my husband happy, A-bug said, “Mommy, I love this cake.” Let me put something into perspective. A-bug rarely says he loves anything. He’s said, “Mommy, I love your hair,” about eight times. He’s said that he loves the dog about five times. He’s told me that he loves me three times. And, he apparently loved this cake. I suppose I should be happy I rank above the cake, but I’m kinda pissed I place behind the dog. Nine months and twelve hours of hard labor. Thanks kid.

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