And all I got was this lousy cold!

Yesterday was the birthday of one Chris Carey, to whom I happen to be married. As said wife, it fell to me to make it a special day. This is a challenge for two reasons. One, as many of you well know, he is the best spoiler on birthdays. He spends way too much money and puts a ridiculous amount of thought into his gifts. It's hard not to feel like the most loved person on earth on your birthday, even if, like me, you have a heart of stone. I would highly recommend being married to him. Except you can't, because I am. Reason two is even more tricky -- the man never wants anything. If you ask me what I want for my birthday, I could whip out a file folder of Material Goods I Must Acquire, arranged by categories, level of desire, color and scent. I am a consumer through and through. There is ALWAYS something that I want, a thing to be acquired that will no doubt make my life better, bring me more happiness, make me thinner and prettier.

Conversely, my husband wants nothing. I ask him every year, "What would you like for your birthday?" He thinks long and hard about this before saying, completely seriously, "Really, there's nothing I can think of. I already have everything I need." I can't begin to express how humbling and annoying this is. Because he MEANS it.

This year, I caught him a little off guard with a couple of surprises for his big day. After a morning spent snuggling in bed, sipping coffee, eating the last of the Valentine's Day chocolates and playing computer games on the laptop, I surprised him with tickets to yesterday afternoon's Michigan-IU basketball game. (IU's his alma mater.)

Since he's been suffering from a cold, Chris actually took a little nap beforehand and then we headed off to the game, which was our first visit to Crisler Arena. It's a pretty compact space, which means that even though I couldn't get great seats, the ones we had were pretty darn good. Originally, we were supposed to be in Austin for his birthday weekend and I was going to celebrate his big day by letting him run the Austin Marathon. But we scrapped that plan a couple of weekends ago and so I was too late to get good seats to the game. That said, I would like to know who all you people are with the good seats who don't bother to turn up for the games. That's just rude!

It was a pretty good game, too. Michigan started out with a sizable lead for the first half and then by the last 10 minutes, it was a close game, with Michigan winning by an inch in the end. It was kind of cool, too, to root for both teams. It seems only polite to root for the Wolverines since we live here but I've been pro-IU since my sister went there for college. As Chris "The Nicest Man on Earth" Carey put it, we were cheering for "good basketball." Word.

After the game, I had Chris scheduled for a 7pm massage but we got out of the parking lot a lot faster than I thought so I managed to kill some time without his suspicion with a drive-through of some of the streets around our neighborhood. We've had some good snow the past few days -- nothing major, but enough to keep a fresh dusting on the streets and make all the little bungalows glow warmly. We have great fantasies about actually being able to afford a house here, so it was quite nice to drive around a bit.

He was completely surprised by the massage part and it turned out to be a good thing I got him in there. While I'm a firm believer in bodywork, Chris has only had a couple of massages in his lengthy, lengthy life. When I picked him up, the massage therapist told me how tense and stressed Chris' muscles are, so I'm hoping I can get him back there more regularly. And they didn't even get to work on his legs and runner's legs are notoriously tight.

We had 8:30 dinner reservations at Kerrytown restaurant Eve. We had a really lovely dinner there on our anniversary this year, but we weren't as wild about our first weekend-night visit. The restaurant has no real waiting area, so we found ourselves crammed inside a tiny entryway with four other couples. The hostess was largely absent and largely inattentive. (Turns out she was also delivering drinks and setting tables inside.) All of the couples waiting had 8:30 reservations and the first of us was seated at 8:50, without a word of apology. Not good, people.

Our service, however, was pretty good for the most part. The menu changes seasonally and we weren't as bowled over by the options for winter as we had been for the summer, but I still had some nice lamb (although its lavender and garlic seasoning and delicate flavor were overwhelmed by a too-rich mustard cream sauce) and Chris enjoyed the scallops (although, again, the less-than-subtle coconut flavoring to the accompnying rice overwhelmed). It's a nice space and I enjoy being there but I do wish restaurants would forego the (understandable) desire to fit as many tables in as possible for a little old-fasioned elbow room. I hate having to worry about shoving my rear in my neighbor's face when I get up to go to the rest room.

We came home and I put Chris in an epsom salt bath to help ease his tender muscles and then we did presents and enjoyed some birthday pastries from the Eastern Accents bakery on Fourth Street. Our friend Birgit had raved about the mango cream cake she got there and, since mango is the birthday boy's favorite fruit, I picked up a slice of that and some other fun goodies.

While we sampled the sweets, Chris opened his presents. As I said, he never really wants much of anything, so there were some little bits of this 'n that. But his real present was an iPod. Yes, we're finally moving into the 21st century people. This one should let us transfer nearly our entire CD collection onto it and maybe put our CDs into storage or get rid of the ones we only like a couple songs from anyway. And maybe even end the constant CD clutter in the car. Maybe.

The day was pretty cool, all in all. I finally got to experience what Chris does when he blows me away with his thoughtfulness. It's a terrific experience to spoil your loved one rotten and to really make them feel special. Love those experiences that are selfishly rewarding!

In return for my many, many incredible and amazing efforts, I woke up this morning with the same rotten cold that plagued the hubby for a couple of days. Some thanks, eh? Sigh. It's hard to feel appreciated when you're as fantastic as I am.