The cursor is blinking at me waiting for input. 

Still blinking!

O.K. I’ll get started.

The mental puzzle that I most recently had to deal with was what to get Joan, my wife, for her birthday. At our age that’s a struggle. The discussion always starts out with, “What would you like for your birthday”. The usual reply is, of course, “I don’t know”, followed by a long list of categories that she doesn’t need. This time I was patient as she rattled off all the categories — fashion, housewares, furniture, and a long flight to Fiji ( 330 islands to choose from). After she was done telling me what not to do, I repeated the question and, again, got the initial response “I don’t know.”

So, now the runway is clear, so to speak. I will have to be creative and make a decision. Although my appearance and usual demeanor would say otherwise, I’m a bit of a romantic. I cry watching movies. When the Golden retriever finds his way home —- when Henry Fonda dies in “On Golden Pond — stuff like that. 

For this occasion, I decided to keep it simple — a single red rose in a simple crystal vase with a brief message. Before I ventured out to buy the rose, I envisioned the local florist providing me with just that and sticking me for about 30 bucks. To my delight, Bloom, the local florist provided me with exactly what I wanted for less than $10. Everything was perfect, minus the birthday greeting card. After 53 years of marriage, what’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? 

I need something touching, heartrending, poignant. But it has to be something that won’t make her cry and in turn make me cry. We’re just not weepy people.

As I’m in the process of paying the florist for the vase and the rose, I asked if she could attach a card for me. She offered to make one up on her computer. It’s the pivotal moment. What do I say?

I went minimalist, and low key. 

I said, “I’m glad you were born”. The phrase is literally true and most certainly not effusive. I’ll bet you didn’t know there are 24 synonyms for “effusive”, but I don’t want to get too windy or verbose here.

(Do I need to explain the humor in the previous paragraph?)

“I’m glad you were born” covered all the bases. While it’s true that I love Joan dearly, why get all mushy about it and make her, and me, cry?

I’ll be contacting Hallmark to suggest a whole line of minimalist greetings. No more “very” preceding Merry Christmas. A basic Merry will suffice. 

Offer an alternative to “best” in “best wishes” with just plain wishes, good wishes, and better wishes. 

Most importantly, this is a great opportunity to get rid of the “so much” after Thank You. The PHONY award goes to —– “so much”!

Joan loved her gift, smiled as she read the card, and there were no tears.

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