Fruit or flowers. The traditional gifts for one’s fourth wedding anniversary. (The ‘modern’ equivalent is appliances — how very romantic. But who follows such egregiously bad suggestions, anyway?)
I confess, I love wedding tat — all those engraved cake knives and champagne glasses and platters and wedding albums and wedding candids and even picture frames and those chrome flasks you give to the groomsmen as gifts, and the horrible dresses the bridesmaids are made to buy for themselves. Even though I see such things with a healthy dose of post-postmodern, Web 2.0 irony, an equally valid truth is I’m attracted to all that commercial wedding paraphernalia because I looked on it all as an outsider for decades before walking down the aisle myself at the age of 43, as did my bride of identical vintage.
Mrs. Pogoer and I were married four years ago last April 13 at a hightoned restaurant in a mansion in West Orange, New Jersey (which proved, in the end, an excellent choice, view of the Manhattan skyline during the dances and all). Even though I’ve only been through one wedding as a principal myself — and once was enough, although I can’t help wanting to do it all over again and tweak a few details, wish I’d have thought to do this and that — it seems that the tone for a marriage is set by the themes and setting of the wedding ceremony and reception. Of course it’s not that simple, but everything has to have a beginning, and the wedding, as everyone knows, marks a transition between courtship and ‘settling down,’ in full view of one’s nearest and dearest which is the point. The pledges made, the toasts uttered, the remarks by the marryin’ officiant — all serve to carve in bedrock the expectations on how the future course of the Joining Together of the Blessed Couple will unfold in weeks, months, years to come.
All this is prelude to the fact that sometimes, a feast has to be postponed because, well, we have these twins, and work intervenes, and — well, just read the previous post if you need further explication.
Like most of the Western world, both Mrs. Pogoer’s and my family like to send cards and occasionally presents back and forth to mark birthdays and anniversaries and those festive gift-giving, stupor-inducing holidays in December. Mrs. Pogoer, a/k/a Donna, is especially good, if not a tad obsessed sometimes, about giving gifts and of course you can’t help but keep track of who gives you one in return, not that she begrudges anyone because she really does think of other people before herself, but there was the time her mother threw a wedding shower for Mrs. P’s then-best friend (let’s call her Peggy), and Mrs. P. and the bride-to-be’s sister (let’s call her Helen) shared the cost of an expensive china service as a gift for Peggy. Peggy’s mother then chipped in for the cost of one plate in the service and signed the gift card “From Mom, Helen and Donna.” My wife never set the record straight with Peggy. Why bother…in the end she’s given far more than she’s received, but that’s no nevermind and karma will get you (or give to you) in the end. I hope.
Anyway, the point is that everyone’s busy these days and in Mrs. P’s family the Christmas gifts often end up getting shipped out a bit late, but arrive by Valentine’s Day at the latest, and mailing things out three weeks after one’s birthday or anniversary is considered a not-so-terrible thing even if it’s your mom or sister because there are the kids, and the work, and hey sometimes it’s hard to get out of the house let alone go to the mall, and everyone knows they’ll be happy with a gift card and God knows with the cost of shipping things these days you spend more on shipping than on the gift itself, ack, it’s not worth it [we must have spent a good $400 getting all our wedding gifts from Jersey City to Austin back in ’03, right?] and whaddaya whaddaya. The way things are, they’re lucky to get anything from us, and in the end they always do. Right? Right.
As far as the no-time-because-there-are-the-kids thing goes, our fruit-and-flower anniversary (I think it should be called the Diploma Anniversary, four years and all: you receive a B.N.M.M.F.G. [Bachelor No More, Married For Good] degree and a mortarboard with the kids’ pictures on it, now you’re talkin’) is a good case in point. Our actual anniversary fell on a Friday the 13th this year, yeah, and although I don’t believe in that superstition there were so many things going on around that time that Mrs. Pogoer never had time to shop for that new dress she wanted to wear; hell, she never even got the chance to buy a card for me, and although I bought one for her I misplaced it and so we went to an alternate last-minute restaurant we didn’t have to dress up so much for, an overpriced Italian place in a strip mall that we’d liked before but this time was somewhat less than satisfying (she liked the food and hated the service, I hated both food and service, and we didn’t even get the free anniversary dessert we were expecting, so the hell with that place in the future).
So I scheduled a Real Anniversary Dinner in a Historic Local Mansion for Tuesday the 24th. Due to one thing and another, and Mrs. P not feeling so hot (a sinus infection and extraction of a diseased molar was only three days from full Vesuvius), we decided to retain the sitter but go to our local mall instead, which actually ended up an enjoyable experience for both of us, much more so than the stupid Italian place — she bought a pair of Crocs for herself and one for me, and I bought her a small but tasteful golden heart on a chain and a pretzel dog (not at the same place) and we came home to find Leo still awake and being entertained by and entertaining Allison the Fabulous Nanny.
So the upshot is, we’re going to the Historic Local Mansion on May Day, Tuesday the 1st. Wish us luck.
When anniversary time rolls around, I often like to remark to Mrs. P (channeling Telly Savalas), “The honeymoon never ends, baby!” Maybe that’s actually true, because who has the time to celebrate your anniversary punctually? Or something to that effect. Moveable feast? Sure — moveable in time.
Like, y’know, whatever.
[Update and Postscript: Unfortunately, the May Day dinner was postponed yet again, due to circumstances and complications beyond our control; I’ll spare you the details, but we finally got to the Historic Mansion on Wednesday, May 23, and had a delightful evening.]