I wanted to do three things for my wife for Valentine’s Day:
- Make her a special dinner of homemade cheese and meat ravioli.
- Give her a small but meaningful gift.
- Dance with her in our living room to romantic music and candlelight.
Mrs. Happy loves ravioli, but it’s really too labor-intensive to make from
scratch. That’s why my dinner was going to be so special. However, I just happened
to find an incredibly simple recipe for ravioli the other day (in the fantastic How
to Cook Without a Book). Instead of explaining how
to make the pasta containers, it called for using wonton
buy wonton wrappers you can skip the messy parts of mixing of the dough, rolling
it out into an uneven sheet, and cutting it into pieces that never quite match
each other. Wonton wrappers stay moist in their packaging, are perfectly textured
and uniformly cut, and cook beautifully "sturdy yet sheer, revealing the filling
within.…earthy yet ethereal, substantial yet tender," according to my cookbook.
So yesterday during my lunch break I went to the grocery store to buy all
the necessary supplies. The store had no wonton wrappers. So I went to another
store. Again, no wonton wrappers. I struck out at a third store and had to
return to work no better off than I was before. After work, I visited three
more grocery stores to no avail. I asked employees at every store where they
kept the wonton wrappers. Half of them had no idea what I was talking about.
"Soup is on aisle 12," is the most intelligent response I got out of that bunch.
The other half went out of their way to help me look, and for that I am grateful,
but the end result is that my dinner plans came to nothing.
For the gift, I intended to get a little something that would help my wife
in her newest hobby: playing the drums. She has been getting informal lessons
from a couple of drummers she knows, and she practices at home by banging pens
on books and tables while stomping on the floor to simulate beating a bass
drum. So I wanted to get her a little machine of some kind that she could bang
on that would reproduce the sounds of real drums. I found such a product at
Toys R Us that claimed to have a "large 3-inch speaker," six drum pads, 10
fill-in music sounds, 10 awesome sound effects, separate volume controls for
and the background, tempo control, and a "big 3-inch speaker that generates
HUGE sound!" (There was only one speaker, but it was double-billed.)
I brought it home yesterday to find that the drum pads didn’t produce the
sounds of drums—they produced drum sequences. So instead of just making a symbol
noise when hit, it made the noise of a symbol being played for four beats.
That meant it wouldn’t work at all for the purpose I intended. My wife can’t
create drum rhythms if the rhythms are prefabricated. So my gift was a bust.
I ended up getting takeout at the local fine Italian dining restaurant (there
were, of course, no tables available to walk-in customers) and explaining to
my wife why I bought her such a useless little noise-making toy. She was touched
to the point of tears, though, by the thought and effort I put into everything.
She may be the first person I’ve known in my life that has sincerely and believably
said, "It’s the thought that counts."
I printed up the list of questions
from Christianity Today that I linked to
last week, and we had a wonderful time conversing and getting to know each
other even better. It was a great night after all.
I just wish I hadn’t been so flustered that I forgot about