About a million years ago when my Sweet Sven and I were first married, I had a dream.
"Boy," I said to him in the morning. "I was so mad at you."
"I dreamt you forgot it was my birthday and you didn't get me a present."
"Well," he says, "If I forgot it was your birthday it makes sense that I wouldn't get you a present."
That was the day Sven learned that he really should not defend his stupidity whether I am awake or asleep.
And that he better never forget my birthday.
Things went pretty well.
For a long time.
Then just the other day, on Friday the thirteenth, when toilet paper became our new currency, he did it again.
Only this time I was awake.
At first I took it like an adult.
I mean, the world was coming to an end and all.
I needed to be grown up about the situation.
Besides, Sven hasn't been able to leave the house for over a month on account of a fractured lumbar. And he is not an online kind of a guy.
I was prepared.
There would be no gift.
I came down the stairs.
He was on the couch.
And then I said, "Good morning, Sven."
And then he said, "Good morning, Millie."
And then I waited for him to say, "Happy Birthday."
And then he didn't say, "Happy Birthday."
But you know how it is.
Sometimes you got to be awake for a little while before you remember what day it is.
Hunter, Tuna and I made coffee and we went for our walk.
Surely by the time we returned Sven would remember.
I had a list of chores that was a mile long including Walgreens over there in Waunakee for a few personal items, US Cellular to see if they could fix a glitch in my phone, and then on to the Pig, for a ton of groceries, as we were having company for dinner.
My birthday dinner.
"Will you pick me up some cigs and gum?" he says.
"Sure," I say through gritted teeth.
Well, by the time I return, he will remember it is my birthday. And at least the sun is shining.
It is important when the stock market crashes that the sun should shine.
It makes the national state of emergency just a little bit brighter.
I got my essentials from Walgreens.
US Cellular was able to fix my phone glitch.
And then I went on to the Pig.
Holy mother of God, where did all these people come from?
There was a toilet paper display right in front of the automatic doors.
"Oh yeah. I better get some."
TP was on my list.
I put it in my cart and continued on to produce.
"Happy birthday, Millie," says a guy named Ski.
"Thanks," I say, turning around. "How'd you know?"
"Facebook. I wished you a happy one. Didn't you see it?"
"Not yet," I said. "It's too bad your buddy, Sven, isn't on Facebook. Then he would know it is my birthday."
I weaved my way up and down the crowded aisles and found everything on my list.
My cart was piled high at the checkout.
"Paper or plastic, ma'am?"
"Either one," I say.
I was digging for my card when my phone rang.
It was Sven.
"Yes?" I say, eyes sparkling.
"Millie, will you pick up my prescription at the pharmacy?" the bastard says. "They called it in."
A few hours later, or maybe it was just an extremely long and excruciating twenty minutes, I pulled out of the pharmacy parking lot.
And I drove directly to my favorite gift shop.
You see, there had been a Wisconsin shaped necklace that had caught my eye a couple months back.
But it was rather pricey.
And I did not need it.
I walked in.
And I bought that mother.
"Is this a gift?" she says from behind the counter.
I watched her lavender polished nails, all but one white one, wrap it up in the store's standard attire of a brown paper bag with the flavor of the day tissue paper and ribbons to match, which happened to be lime green and orange on that Friday.
"Thank you," I said when she handed it to me.
Are you one of those people who gets everything on your grocery list?
I never have.
And one cannot serve tacos, if one does not have sour cream.
Son of a bitch.
I made an announcement to my sweet Sven, "I have to go back to the grocery store. I forgot the sour cream."
And do you know what he said?
You are not going to believe it.
He looks right at me and says, "They canceled the Masters."
I reached for the doorknob and grabbed it like it was his neck.
And then he says, "As long as you are going back, will you pick up some gum for me? I think you forgot it."
"Sure," I say, squeezing my hand a little bit tighter around the knob.
And then he says, "By the way, happy birthday."
And then I said, "By the way, you bought me a present today."
And then he said, "I did."
And then I said, "Yes, you did."
And then I went out the door.
That evening, with family gathered in our living room, as I twirled a necklace made of silver by a local artist that happened to be hanging around my neck, I opened a gift from my sweet Sven.
"He called me a week ago," says my sister. "He said there was no way he could shop. So, he asked me if I could do it for him."
"Oh," I said.
Sven and I learned a couple of valuable lessons that first day of the end of the world.
Always wish your sweetheart a happy birthday right away in the morning, even if it is the Armageddon.
And do not.
I repeat, do not, jot down PT on your grocery list.
It is okay to write TP for toilet paper.
That is the norm.
But always write out, paper towels.
Because when I zagged my way down that paper aisle, I picked up another TP.
I didn't mean to.
It was an accident.