Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Un-Anniversary by Ginger Simpson

Del walked into a haze-filled house. His wife, Annie, stood in the middle of the room, fanning the air with her apron while the smoke detector blared an earsplitting tune. He snatched the contraption from the ceiling and ripped out the batteries.

“Cooking again, are you,” Del asked, trying to hide a blossoming smile. He tossed his cell phone and car keys on the counter and hung up his jacket. This wasn’t the first time she burned his dinner. At the rate Annie set off the detector, they should own stock in that company with the nonstop bunny rabbit ad. Luckily, there was more than one route to his heart, and it certainly wasn’t through his stomach as the saying went.

Annie dipped her chin to her chest. “I so wanted this new recipe to work.”

He crossed the room, rested an arm around her shoulders and gave her squeeze. “It’s okay sweetheart. I’m sure whatever it was would have been delicious.”

Rather than be cheered by his words, she hid her face with her palms and sobbed.  "I'm a disaster in the kitchen.” Her muffled words came out between hiccups.

He pulled her closer. “Now, now, everyone has different talents. I wish I could sing like Pavarotti, but I sound more like Gomer Pyle. You just don’t happen to be Julia Childs.”

She peered up through eyes brimming with tears. “But I wanted to surprise you with a romantic dinner.”
"I know....I know." He pulled her into a one-armed cuddle.
A determined look spread across her face and, she turned back to the counter. “I’m going to try again, this time I’ll pay closer attention to the directions.”

His gaze wandered to the dining room and a table set with fine china, candles, and wine glasses. Dear God! His breath stopped short of a gasp. He’d forgotten an important date. There was only one thing to do to save face and stop her from poisoning them both.

He crossed the room and removed the knife from her hand. Cupping her chin, he gazed lovingly into her eyes. “You can test your recipe another time or you’ll spoil my surprise. Go get cleaned up. I’m taking you out for a special dinner and, if we’re lucky, a night of dancing.”

Annie’s eyes widened. “Really?” Her brows rose in an inquisitive arch, but straightened when she smiled. “Oh, sweetheart, you shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble.” She stood on tiptoes, gave him a peck on the cheek, then hurried upstairs.

Del waited until she was out of sight, then digging frantically through the desk, found the phonebook and scanned the yellow pages for restaurant phone numbers. On a week night, surely he could make a last minute reservation and still be his wife’s hero. What would one more little white lie hurt when he’d already told so many about her dismal cooking skills?

Success…he hung up the phone. Reservation made and even flowers ordered. He’d pulled his plan off without a hitch and felt pretty proud of himself…until the sound of someone clearing their throat caught his attention. He swallowed hard, turned, and saw Annie at the bottom of the stairs.

She stood with folded arms. “So, you planned to surprise me with dinner and dancing, huh?”

“Well, you see…I-I… Okay, okay, you caught me.” His shoulders slumped. “I forgot our anniversary.”

Annie’s somber look mellowed. She collapsed into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“It isn’t our anniversary, silly.” She walked closer. “I wondered what you meant earlier, but I decided to see where this was going. What gave you the idea this was the day we got married?”

“Well, you said it was a special night, a-and I just assumed…”

“Oh that.” She waved a limp wrist at him. “I didn’t mean special for you and me, silly. The special is on Lifetime Television…it’s all romance night again. I thought if I fixed a special recipe for an early dinner, we could cuddle up and watch some movies together. You know… before we go up to bed.” She lowered one eyelid in a sensuous wink.

He cracked his knuckles and flashed a sheepish smile. “Well, in that case, I think I’ll cancel dinner out and order in.”

Del had a plan, too. A little pizza, a romantic movie, and when they went upstairs, he’d end up getting a gift he hadn’t counted on…especially on a Wednesday night. Lifetime movies acted like an aphrodisiac on Annie, and, for sure, tomorrow he’d be sending the cable company a special thank-you note.