No Gifts, Please

Posted: May 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Birthdays, Drink, Firsts, Friends and Strangers, Holidays, Husbandry, Sleep | 17 Comments »

I had a hangover when Mark asked me out on our first date. To be clear, I didn’t get it as a result of going out with him, but at the time he asked me out I was nauseous. I was headachy. I was leaning against the wall to remain upright. My pallor was a sickly shade of green.

And yet he looked past my bloodshot eyes and potential for rampant alcoholism and found me desirable! What a keeper.

We were at a Christmas party, hosted by dear friends of mine. And even though I’d spent the day in bed, moaning, drinking water, and shying away from bright lights and loud noises, I knew I had to make an appearance at this shindig.

So I moved through Elizabeth Kubler Ross‘ Five Stages of Hangovers:

#1 Guzzle Water

#2 Down Advil

#3 Eat a Greasy Breakfast

#4 Return to Bed

#5 Attempt to Shower and Dress [Note: This should not be done prematurely, or could require that you repeat steps 1-4.]

My plan was to spend 20 minutes at the party. Tops.

Not long after my arrival Mark appeared. Charming and friendly. And although my senses were dulled, I thought I  discerned an air of nervousness about him. In the kitchen we chatted for a bit over the butcher block island, as I rummaged through its drawers for more Advil.

And then as I made my farewell sweep through the living room, he stopped me.

“I um, actually have something for you,” he said. And pulled out of—okay my memory fails me here—his pocket? a man purse? the hands of a bikini-clad assistant who was standing beside him? Anyway, he pulled out of SOMEWHERE an envelope. And handed it to me.

Inside were a bunch of magnets. And I think some stickers too. They all said

Chicken Candy was this wacky website idea I’d been ranting about when I’d met him once before. It was the Internet Boom, and nearly any URL you could conjure was already taken. And somehow we’d gotten to talking about the idea of candy that was made out of America’s favorite food—chicken!

I know, it’s odd. I don’t really remember how we got on that topic—and I know right now you’re thinking that I seem to have blacked out a lot during this time in my life, and maybe you should be finding my email address to send me a kind but firm message encouraging me to seek treatment for my drinking problem. (Here, let me make it easy on you. It’s kristen at motherloadblog dot com.) But really, I assure you that my poor memory has more to do with—I don’t know, genetics—than it does with

Oh, sorry, where was I? Just had to top off my glass.

Anyway, so here’s Mark handing me these magnets. He’d designed a logo and there was even a little picture of a chicken on them. And it was a really funny and creative thing for him to do. I mean, how often does a guy A) listen to something you said, B) remember it, and C) do something original with it?

Right, not often.

Some time you should have Mark tell you about his internal dialogue as he handed that envelope to me. It went something like, “What the fuck have I done? This is not cool. This is the most insane stalker-ish move I could ever make and she is totally freaked out by me right now.”

I did find it unusual, but in a flattering way. I was generally at a loss for words—for everything that night—but I somehow managed express to him the wonderfully thoughtful and whimsical nature of his gift.

And I did not puke on his shoes.

Later, on my way to the coat closet he sought me out again, and nervously, shyly, asked if he could take me out to dinner.

The rest, as they say, is history.

My birthday was five months after our first date. And, this being The Olden Days before cell phone texting, Mark and I would chat online using AOL Instant Messenger. And sometimes we sent carrier pigeons.

It was almost like Downton Abbey.

In fact, I saved and printed out all our epic IM conversations since they were so damn clever and cute and we were both trying so hard. I knew even then that they were part of some history in the making.

On the morning of my birthday Mark texted me a link that said, “Click here.”

It’s okay, you can go click on that yourself. Check it out, then come back and I’ll be right here.

Okay, did you look? Did you click into the site? Did you read the About Us (I love that part)? And the Gizzard Truffles? Wait, what was your favorite product? You know, I didn’t even know what schmaltz was at the time.

Yes, the gift he gave me was the sticker taken to the Information Superhighway. He made a whole damn website for my pretend Chicken Candy company. And gave it to me for my birthday.

And it was hilarious.

I showed my boss at the agency where I was working and she wanted to hire him on the spot.

Anyway, I’m ten days shy of my next birthday. Twelve years later, that is.

And I actually woke up pretty hung over this past Saturday. I swear this is a very rare occurrence, but I do understand if you still feel the need to contact me directly with your concerns about my drinking. (Again, it’s kristen at motherloadblog dot com.)

For this hangover, Mark let me sleep late. He got up and fed our daughters breakfast and shushed them when they started talking too loudly near our bedroom door. When I finally woke up he brought me a glass of water and an Advil, and asked me what we should do as a family before he went to his 1:30 tee time.

And then the girls ran into the room screaming and fighting and jumping on the bed and handing me pictures they’d drawn and asking if I would read them a book and could they please have some of their Easter candy?

Ah what a difference 12 years makes. And I wouldn’t change a single thing about them. (Except that I should’ve drunk more water—or less wine—on Friday night.)

Thank you, Mark, for being an exceptionally funny, smart, handsome, handy-around-the-house, IT savvy husband. (And no, I’m not going to say “and friend.” Or “and lov-ah.” But hell, now that I mention it, those things too.)

Happy very-soon birthday to me. I am the luckiest gal in the world. You and the girls—and the vast pretend proceeds from Chicken Candy World Enterprises—are all the presents I need.


17 Comments on “No Gifts, Please”

  1. 1 Mary said at 7:50 am on May 1st, 2012:

    I love it!! I knew this story all ready but it was probably told in pieces between 3-4 dinner parties, so now I have the real feeling behind it. So sweet. Happy early birthday!

  2. 2 Maureen Kay said at 7:51 am on May 1st, 2012:

    Kristen, I have been reading your blog for a while now..secretly stalking your writing and strangely, your life. I have not laughed so much since the days on Vicksburg Street. You are so funny and honest and clever and…well, we miss you and please keep writing!

  3. 3 Jim said at 9:18 am on May 1st, 2012:

    Although it has been many years since Mark and I had any contact, Facebook brought us back together and he holds a special place in my heart for everything he did, who he is and what he is willing to do and give to those he loves and cares about.

    I love hearing the story, how you feel and knowing that he has found someone as wonderful as you. I have to thank Sheryl for sharing your blog, so that I could get a peek into what was and what is your life :-) Have a Fabulous B-day and thank you for sharing.

    Jim Winter-Card

  4. 4 kristen from motherload said at 10:08 am on May 1st, 2012:

    Thank you, my dear. Hope you are prepared to feel the tiki bar love.

  5. 5 RookieMom Whitney said at 10:52 am on May 1st, 2012:

    I love it! I want to marry Mark, too! Being in your exact demo, geographically and professionally in that era, I feel nostalgic. Your courtship captures that time so well.

  6. 6 kristen said at 11:03 am on May 1st, 2012:

    Yes, Whitney, Mark IS a catch. And I’m saying that in the sober light of day.

    I’m not surprised you can appreciate the geekish sweetness of him making a website for me.

  7. 7 MJ said at 12:10 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    This is such a sweet story! Love it. When are we going out for drinks? ;)

  8. 8 Alexandra said at 12:11 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    So very sweet.

    And you guys IM’d each other???

    Before you were married???

    What if your kids read this????

  9. 9 kristen said at 12:35 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    I know, Alexandra. but don’t you worry. We kept it at IM. And hand-holding. (Are you reading this, girls?)

  10. 10 kristen said at 12:37 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    Yes, MJ! Drinks! I love drinks! (If that wasn’t already apparent from this post.)

    We shall do it when I return from Miami. Which happens next Monday. Any time after that. Except Tuesdays when I have my writing class (which you should be in with me, btw–you’d love it).

    I see you are officially employed, not freelancing. Mazel tov!

  11. 11 Megan K. said at 1:26 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    LOVE this story. Especially Mark’s inner dialogue. :)

    My favorite part is the tagline: “It’s clucking great!™”

  12. 12 Laura said at 3:57 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    OMG my side hurts from laughing so hard. You tell the best stories, even the ones that make me say “awe,” still have your witty sense of humor weaved in them and that’s why I read them. Happy early birthday!

  13. 13 Laura said at 3:59 pm on May 1st, 2012:

    Oh and hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day too. :)

  14. 14 Leslie @ The Bearded Iris said at 2:12 am on May 2nd, 2012:

    Okay, that Chicken Candy (“It’s clucking great!”) website is f-ing hilarious! No wonder you married that guy.

    And I laughed out loud when you stopped midsentence to top off your glass.

  15. 15 ruby said at 6:17 am on May 12th, 2012:

    Can’t tell you how much I love this!! Really takes me back!

  16. 16 kristen from motherload said at 11:49 am on May 13th, 2012:


    All I can say is: Pencil.

    That goes to the tomb, honey.


  17. 17 kristen from motherload said at 11:52 am on May 13th, 2012:

    Yay, Maureen! I’m so very happy you’re following along from home.

    Just pretend we’re standing around the kitchen island on Vicksburg and chatting while drinking a Henry Weinhardt’s beer. And check out how young we look!!

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