What Do Men Really Want?

My husband and I are trying to celebrate his birthday at our formerly favorite restaurant. However, the salads never come, and the alleged chicken breasts on our plates leave us wondering what hummingbird gave its life to feed us. Apparently our waitress has taken a job at another restaurant, because she’s nowhere to be seen. Yet, we still have a great time, and I’m relieved because I’ve spent weeks contemplating how to make this guy happy on his special evening.

A husband’s birthday is the time of year a wife must face the fact that women are from Venus and men are on the Internet shopping for a watch with tiny dials that show all the times around the world.

He’s wearing his new watch tonight along with the handsome tan shirt I picked that brings out the green in his eyes. The band on his new watch looks as if it were made from a tire, but the price was like for the entire car, and I think worth every penny, considering the smile on his face.

“Let’s leave and find something more fun to do,” I say.

But first (since we’re so close to a post office) I suggest we get stamps.

That’s why we’re in a post office lobby on a Friday evening staring at a vending machine that resembles a time-travel contraption in an old sci-fi movie. It possesses as many mysterious buttons as my hubby’s new watch, but he’s still no help in figuring out how to get the machine to sell us postage. The stamps mock us through their little plastic windows.

We’re about to walk away when simultaneously we say, “I wonder what this button does?” and voila, the machine lights up with bright red instructions on what to do next. Within seconds we get a stream of 2-cent stamps to roll out. Triumph! Not only have we managed to legitimize a half coil of obsolete 39-cent stamps, but we’re laughing as well. Who knew how much fun could be had at the post office?

“Now let’s go look at birthday cards,” I say. This year I want to save the $2.50 ($4 in Canada), because his habit is to look at the greeting, say thanks, and then pop his card in the trash. My idea is to browse together in the store and pick his favorite.

He decides on a card with a photo of a pooch with a guilty look lying on a sofa. I wonder what this naughty dog has done.

“Happy birthday!” I say and then put it back for someone else to enjoy. Not only does my hubby get to momentarily receive a nice card, but with this efficient recycling, we also strike a teeny blow against global warming.

“So what now? A moonlight stroll on the beach?” he offers.

“Wouldn’t you rather go to the gym?”

He grins. Working out is exactly what he wants.

Everyone else in the world seems to think Friday evening is date night, so there’s no waiting for any of the exercise machines. We celebrate on side-by-side rowing machines. I’ve never figured out how to use all the electronic gizmos on the gym equipment, but I’m sure if we manage to row all the way to Jakarta, one of the dials on my husband’s watch will tell us the time there.

I say, “It was exactly a year ago when you said, ‘Hey, my pants are a little snug. Why don’t we join a gym?’”

And he says, “Yeah, and you said since you understood the magic of the elastic waistband, you didn’t see why you needed to exercise.”

Still, the suggestion to begin a fitness program pushed mysterious buttons in my mind, and my brain flashed a bright red sign that I wasn’t going to ever return to the shape I had at 25 if I didn’t rediscover the fun in exercising.

This past year, we’ve had many sweaty but entertaining hours working out at the gym with trainer Dan VanVoorhis, who just happens to be an expert at being 25.

Alas, we haven’t discovered an actual time travel machine that will take us all the way back, but we’ve shaved a few years, and many bundles of larger clothing have traveled from our closets to the Salvation Army thrift store.

What men really want is still a mystery to me, but at least I have a whole year to study until my husband has yet another birthday.