Yesterday was the annual celebration of Lynnette’s birth. Age, Aaliyah said, “ain’t nothing but a number,” and at Lynnette’s request, we have stopped using numerical measurements to denote her age. This seems fair considering we haven’t celebrated my birthday in over six years, either.
Believe me, my creative side spent time trying to figure out how to best celebrate my forever teammate, but I ultimately could not come up with anything fantastic. I decided to theme this year’s gifts as “Old School” in part because Lynnette is old, but also because I ran out of time. The first part of her “Old School” gift was one of those paper fortune teller things that I never actually knew how to make. I enlisted the help of some of my female students. You want to know the quickest way to feel like an idiot? Ask a teenage girl for help. “Write colors,” the said. I opted for blue and orange, navy and silver. “Wait, are those for the Cowboys and Mets?” one of them asked. I smirked. Of course it’s the Cowboys and Mets. “KK, now write numbers,” one of them said. I started with 8 and proceeded to rattle off a few more, including 88. “Wait, are those jersey numbers?” one of them asked. “Yeah, I mean, yeah,” I said. “You have to keep the numbers low, because that’s how many times you have to flap it,” she said. Oooooooooooooooooooh. The highest I went was 36, and the fortune assigned it was “I will buy you a rocket ship” because I knew Lynnette would never pick 36. As I sat there struggling to come up with fortunes/promises for my wife, one of the girls said “Why don’t you promise not to watch a Cowboys game for a week?” “BECAUSE I CAN’T DO THAT!” I snapped back. “What if they win?” she continued. “THEN I CAN’T WATCH THEM THE NEXT WEEK, EITHER!” I growled. That concluded that particular line of questioning. They’re too young to compete with superior logic and intellect.
As you can see, some of these promises are pretty legit. In fact, there were only two which were jokes – the rocketship one and the Las Vegas trip (which we’re taking anyway). Wouldn’t you know it? Lynnette picked the Vegas trip. She laughed, then booed when she saw her fortune. Then when she saw the rest of the options, she was crushed. “Abby’s bad choices for a week?” she said. “That would have been huge!“
I wrote Lynnette an elementary school-style (and if some of you remember me doing shit like this in college, YOUR MEMORY IS WRONG.) letter in pretty colors doing loops around the paper. That’s right, an old-fashioned love letter. It made a tear run down her face. “Are you OK?” I asked. “No, I’m just very touched,” she said. I know that yesterday had nothing to do with me, but it still made my day. That’s when she started opening her gift from Tiffany. “Philip, I told you nothing expensive,” she said. “Hey,” I said. “I make $40,000 a year. I think I can splurge once in a while.” She was in hysterics. She even swore. That hit me right in the heart.
I am 34 now and with the benefit of time and perspective, I realize so clearly that I was just a boy when I started going out with Lynnette. In addition to loving me, she also raised me in a way. I don’t mean for this to sound trite or self-deprecating, I only mean to say that I was very immature and fought hard against growing up – even as it was happening. She remained by my side through my 20’s when I was still trying to figure myself out. I have no idea how she found the patience, but I guess that’s what love is. Maybe she saw in me things I couldn’t see in myself (because they were all adult things and that seemed impossible). Some kind of potential that was the very definition of “high risk/high reward.” I like to think – considering the kind of husband and father I’ve become – I rewarded her patience. The truth is, I didn’t get there alone. No one does. So much of the person that I’ve become is the result of being lucky enough to have a role model that was also my girlfriend and would become my wife. Thank you for this life, Lynnette. I hope you enjoyed your #^th birthday.