On Friday, God willing, my wife Lisa and I will be married for 40 years.
In 1976, the year of our marriage, the nation had just celebrated its 200th birthday, its bicentennial.
A bridal party could actually rent red, white and blue tuxedos, complete with Uncle Sam top hats.
Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were fighting it out for President that summer. I was one year out of journalism school, covering high school sports in and around suburban Washington, DC. Lisa was in her first year of graduate school to become a speech pathologist.
Words like “internet,” “cell phone” and “GPS” weren’t even on the horizon. Siri wasn’t born yet, and an apple was still a piece of fruit.
We were 22 when we were married, having met six years earlier as members of a Jewish youth group.
During those 40 years I have become infamous for my questionable choice of wedding anniversary gifts and providing commentary that has become legendary at family get-togethers.
I got the picture when the overly big hoop earrings I thought were so lovely never appeared on Lisa’s ears. Or when I found that book I thought she’d like a couple of years later in the box with our Goodwill items.
There are two items, however, that will not leave my reputation alone no matter how many years have gone by.
The first was the bread machine.
It was for our 25th anniversary.
Like a puppy dog wagging his tail, I couldn’t wait for Lisa to open the gift wrap. From the expression on her face at seeing the bread machine, I got the picture right away.
But it got worse, because now my two daughters were old enough to understand that on a woman’s wedding anniversary, it should be jewelry or a day at the spa, or something personal.
“You bought Mommy a bread machine?” still is part of Jacobs’s family legend.
So I used the bread machine until we finally gave it away.
In the meantime, there were the Michal Negrin earrings. My wife had a couple of pairs and she loved wearing them. So off I went to a Michal Negrin store. I proudly purchased a beautiful pair of brown-colored earrings. This, I thought, would negate the entire bread machine mistake.
The big day came along. We went out to dinner with our daughters. When we came home I stood there and watched happily as she opened the beautifully wrapped box. She liked the earrings. She liked them so much that she held up one to her ear. It was the same exact earring she was wearing. Out of thousands of earrings I picked the pair she already owned.
In the years following was the red furry overcoat that she said made her look like “Clifford, the Big Red Dog.” That was returned. She also has about five unused purses that I thought were particularly nice. But no…
She loves to exercise, so I ordered “Hip Hop Abs” from an infomercial. That was given away just recently. Not such a great move.
That was the end for a while, because DeDe and Emily, our two daughters, simply couldn’t take it anymore. They would ask for my credit card and off they went.
Lisa was now going to spas, getting beautiful jewelry, clothing and other anniversary-level accessories.
My girls would say, “This is what Dad got you.”
She knew, and she loved me for it.
But my surrogate shoppers didn’t last forever. They got married, moved out of town and left me to fend for myself once again.
So here we are at the big 4-0.
She did want to watch an infomercial with the makeup airbrush “system.”
Hmm. Haven’t I learned my lesson?
So as the old commercial might say:
Two Airline tickets to Boston.
Three wonderful grandsons.
The first days of Sukkot.
Maybe she’ll keep me around for the 41st.