July 22, 2003
Liver and Filet Mignon

Monday morning 5:45 a.m.

I'm sitting on the edge of the bed, quietly trowelling Maybelline and spackle into the crevices around my eyes and my mouth. David, as usual, is snoozing peacefully next to me. While I wait for my face to dry, I pause for a moment and do that Awwwww isn't he cute/Just like a little sleeping angel gazing-at-him-fondly thing that all women do, when someone they love more than life itself is sleeping beside them.

Except that he isn't really asleep, apparently.

"Hi Honey," he mumbles suddenly, as though he sensed me watching him through the thin drooling veil of sleep. "I love you. Happy anniversary."  And then he immediately drifts off again ... or at least I think he's drifting off, because his eyes are closed and his mouth is hanging open a little and he isn't saying anything. 

But a couple of seconds later he's back.

"Now you're supposed to say something nice to me," he whispers, eyes still closed.

"I love you with my whole heart," I reply. "Happy anniversary." And I lean over and kiss him gently on the forehead.

He smiles and rolls over on his side, hiking the comforter up over his shoulders and burying his face into the stack of pillows. Now I know that he's drifting back to sleep, because his breathing immediately begins to slow down and deepen, and his shoulders sag involuntarily, and his whole body relaxes beneath the comforter ...

... except that he's still not going back to sleep. 

"The Ancient Greeks actually believed that the liver was the seat of all emotions," he murmurs drowsily from the other side of the pillow mountain. "So you should love me with your whole liver, too."

"No problem," I say. "Heart. Liver. Pancreas, spleen and appendix, while we're at it. Any other internal organs I'm overlooking?"

"Nope," he says sleepily. "That'll do for now." 

And this time he really does drift off, into a noisy twilight half-sleep for another hour or so, until it's time for him to get up and begin his own round of grooming rituals, in preparation for another long day at the office.

            *            *            *            *            *            *

7:47 a.m.

We're listening to one of The Mystery Tapes as we drive to work.

Part of our ongoing effort to declutter/dejunk/defrag our tiny household has been to weed out our vast, sprawling music collection. David has been doing his part: for the past several months he has been busily digitizing old vinyl records to CD, then selling the vinyl at assorted used record stores in Berkeley. Anything he doesn't sell gets dumped off at the thrift store. I've been selling some of my old music, too ... mostly CDs on Amazon.com. (Although there doesn't seem to be a lot of call for used Lobo retrospectives, I've discovered.) This leaves the big stack of unlabelled cassette tapes to deal with. Recently we've begun listening to The Mystery Tapes in the car, whenever we're driving around, in hopes of 1.) identifying them, and 2.) deciding whether they stay in the collection or whether they get dumped into the recycle pile. Most of them turn out to be David's stuff: old KFOG-FM radio broadcasts, half-finished mix tapes for friends in New Jersey, miscellaneous projects that were never completed or labelled.

This one, however, has the unmistakeable sound of a SecraTape.

"I think this is a tape I made for the Grillaz," I say, as Cat Stevens bleeds into Sheryl Crow bleeds into Fat Boy Slim. I vaguely remember a group project from three or four years back, when Bottlenekk and Edmund and Feef and I all decided to swap holiday mix tapes. The point of the exercise was to include songs that said something about the state of our lives at the time, plus a couple of favorite Christmas songs thrown into the mix, just for fun. And sure enough, the jingly-jangly guitar intro of Elton John's "Step Into Christmas" -- my favorite Christmas song -- has just begun flooding the interior of the Subaru.

I smile at the incongruity. Here we are, driving to work on a sunny morning in July ... in California .. on our wedding anniversary ... and we're listening to Christmas music.

I LOVE it.

David sees me loving it -- he sees me grinning from ear to ear -- and he shakes his head a little. "I think I've just witnessed the birth of a new 'tradition,' haven't I?" he says. I nod. From now on: Christmas music becomes a mandatory part of the wedding anniversary celebration.

Starting now.

            *            *            *            *            *            *

1:17 p.m.

"So what is the two year anniversary, anyway?" says The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy. "It's paper, isn't it? Or is it glass?"

"Actually," I tell him, "it's filet mignon."

I had promised myself I wasn't going to go around The Dirt Company today, announcing to everybody right and left that it's my wedding anniversary. This is part of my new effort to be more circumspect about my personal life when I'm at work. (I'll talk about sex and incontinence and uncomfortable underwear all I please, right here within the safety and the privacy of the Internet, but when I'm at the office it's going to be all weather chat/all the time.) So of course I've been talking about little but my wedding anniversary since the moment I walked through the door.

"Ahh," says The MNGG, nodding vigorously. "He's taking you out for dinner. Smart man."

David and I have already agreed that there will be no gift exchange again this year. The usual reasons: we're too broke, we're too busy to shop, we're too cramped in our microscopic apartment to add more stuff. "Besides," I told him again this morning, "just being married to you is *gift* enough." 

This is a bald-faced lie, of course. One of these days, when we've won the lottery and we've quit our jobs and we're living a life of luxurious, obscenely-early retirement, I'm going to insist on red roses and expensive electronics every July 21st, just like any other red-blooded American wife on her wedding anniversary. In the meantime, though, I'll settle for a fancy-pants dinner at our favorite restaurant, Skates on the Bay. It's the restaurant where David proposed, a couple of years back, and ever since then it's sort of become our default fancy-pants *occasion restaurant* of choice.

I've been daydreaming about the Pt. Reyes Farmstead Bleu Cheese Salad all day.

"Skates," says The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy thoughtfully, attempting to recall the restaurant. "Skates. Skates on the Bay. It sounds vaguely familiar." And then his expression suddenly brightens.

"Now I remember!" he says happily. "Isn't that where Laci Peterson  washed up on the beach?"

            *            *            *            *            *            *

6:15 p.m.

The waitress has seated us at the best table in the entire restaurant: a corner table positioned directly next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, affording us a sweeping panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. Or it would afford us a sweeping panoramic view of San Francisco Bay, if the fog weren't in this evening. Mostly our *view* is of miles and miles of choppy gray water, rolling seamlessly into the foggy gray horizon. Even the Golden Gate Bridge is little more than a ghostly blur in the distance. (And right next door to the restaurant -- clearly visible through the fog -- the Berkeley Marina, where Scott Peterson embarked on his infamous Christmas Eve "fishing trip.")

But that's OK. The view isn't why we're here, anyway. I've got Pt. Reyes Bleu Cheese Salad. I've got lemonade. I've got filet mignon, being cooked to my exacting specifications, even as we speak. I've got a handsome husband who loves me, and we're here celebrating two years of nauseatingly-joyous wedded bliss.

I'm happy.

As I'm poking through the lettuce leaves, hunting for any remaining chunks of bleu cheese that may still be lingering there, David reaches into his coat pocket and withdraws a large white envelope. "This is for you," he says. "Happy anniversary."

I frown a little as I open the card. This is in direct violation of our no-gifts/no-cards agreement. "You weren't supposed to do this," I scold ... but deep down inside I'm thrilled, and he knows it, and I know he knows it, and he knows I know he knows it. He leans back in his chair and smiles modestly as I read every word of the Hallmark, start to finish. Somehow he has once again managed to pick just the card that expresses everything I feel about our marriage. By the time I get to the end of the poem, where he has signed 'All my love, David,' in his confidently illegible handscribble, I'm starting to cry.

"I didn't get you anything," I sniffle.

"That's OK," he says sweetly. "Just being married to you is *gift* enough."

            *            *            *            *            *            *

8:11 p.m.

"I ate too much," David groans again.

We're sprawled across the bed in our underwear, recovering from the fancy-pants dinner. My petite filet mignon was precisely that: petite. It was about the size of my clenched fist, and I have very tiny fists. But it was incredibly filling, just the same. I ate the whole thing in six succulent, mouth-watering, $10-a-bite mouthfuls, then spent the rest of the meal picking at David's green beans and mashed potatoes. He ordered the phonebook-sized slab of prime rib and powered right through the whole thing without coming up for air. Plus we both had dessert: key lime pie for me, a cannoli for him.

If either one of us has to leave the bedroom any time within the next half hour or so, for any reason at all, we're probably going to have to be air-lifted.

Still ... it was totally worth it. It was a delicious meal, it was a special evening, the whole thing was romantic as hell. As long as we don't eat like that every day, we probably won't have to invite Jenny Craig to move in with us any time soon. 

As we were leaving the restaurant, we passed by the booth where the two of us were sitting the night David proposed to me, two and a half years ago. "Touch the table as we walk by," I whispered to David, as we approached the booth. "It'll be good luck." And he obediently reached out, with two fingers, and gave the table a tiny *tap* as we passed. (Fortunately there was nobody seated there at the time.) I followed right behind him and did the same.

Another *anniversary tradition* is born.

While David flops around on his side of the bed, trying to get comfortable, I fish around in my purse and dig out the Hallmark.

"Many years from now," it says, "when we have come to know each other for a lifetime, promise me that we'll always love each other the way we do today. Promise me that when we take a walk you'll still hold my hand, and when I tell you you're even more beautiful than the day we met, you'll believe me. Promise me that when we share a bed at night, we'll still hold each other close, dreaming back on all the memories that we've made. Promise me that even then, you'll always and forever be my once-in-a-lifetime love."

God. I feel like I'm going to start blubbering all over again. No, he didn't write the poem himself. All he did was go to the drugstore and stand in front of the greeting card counter and read through 43,897,621 sappy overblown anniversary cards, one by one, before he finally found the card that spoke to him, and that he knew would speak to me, and would make me get all weepy and sentimental, and would make our anniversary dinner just that little bit nicer. Plus he listened to Christmas music with me in July, AND he reached out and tapped the engagement booth when I asked him to. (And he'll do them both again next year,  without even being asked.) Is it any wonder I love this man with my whole heart?

Not to mention my whole liver?

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