Complaining comes with aging. But as my boyfriend points out, aging gives us a lot more to complain about. I’m not so sure I’m ready to be thrust into a continuous position of expressing discomfort. It makes for monotonous conversation and is nothing to be proud of. Yet I myself cannot help revealing how my birthday went, a decision that gives me undying pleasure with each passing moment. I won’t bore you with this celebratory event, unless of course you’re a thrill seeker and complaining advocate who just wants to take the last written word in. Let me start by saying my man hardly ever complains. He makes me happier than a kitten with a cotton ball. Except look out if he misplaces something or is listening to politics on the radio. You’ll hear several resounding cuss words coming from the room he’s in.

We planned a Palm Springs weekend away and stopped at a department store in the city where my daughter lives. I explained to my non-complaining mate that I needed to exchange some shoes she bought me and set it up to meet her there. I was trying to enjoy my trading experience when it was obvious that it was the last place my beau wanted to be. Especially right after he was ditched the minute we entered the establishment. We went to the shoe department and I asked my daughter, “Where did he go?” She said, “He’s looking at clothes in the men’s department.” I thought to myself ‘good, he’s occupied for a fabulous fifteen minutes or so.’ But he didn’t experience the same exhilarated rush a woman experiences when she’s taking time to browse every single apparel and footwear rack in a retail outlet. His idea of an exchange is dashing in and out in a matter of minutes. Exchanging for a woman means scouring the whole store to see what else she wants with laborious effort, which makes for an unbearable interruption in a man’s life. I tried telling him that Cinderella is proof that shoes can change a woman’s life, and two things can brighten her mood. The words “I love you” and “Sale.” I know I speak for other ladies when I say that we apologize for any temporary inconvenience caused by delays in places that sells anything wearable. I mean out of nowhere, I had racks of cute clothes and shoes calling my name. Nothing can beat the delightful scent of a place permeating with silks and soft leather. Personally, I kind of like hanging out with me when I’m shopping.

I did have a moment of deep concern for my man who was trapped in shopping hell until I saw an attractive top and yelled to my daughter, “How cute is this one?” Men don’t know the importance of finding something for $19.99, because twenty dollars is an outrageous amount of money to spend on a shirt. He looked at men’s clothes for a whopping two seconds and began wandering the store wondering where we were. It’s really hard to find compatibility with a mate at that point when whining escalates into a full blown, “This is the worst day of my life.” I thought the worst day of his life was when he got diverticulitis, or the time he ordered horrible pizza. He has zero tolerance for terrible food and women who drag him into retail establishments. Never in the history of calming a man down, has a man actually calmed down, simply by being told to calm down, when his woman needs time to bargain hunt. I tried to remind him that it was MY birthday, not his. I could give up shopping, but there would have to be a fabric shortage and I sure wasn’t born a quitter. I never ever want to look back and say, “I should have bought that but my boyfriend prevented me from doing so.”

Trust me when I say it was not a romantic experience. For someone revered as a god, he became verbal and his laughs were limited. And this girl loves a good joke or two when times are tough. He had no chair to sit on or his IPad to occupy his waiting time. I wanted to ask my usual voice of reason, “Let me guess. Are you A.Ticked off? B. Extremely upset? C. Ready to cry? Or D. Done with all three?” The wrinkles he has on his face are all from laughter with the exception of that scrunched unibrow that is predominant when he’s deeply disturbed by something. I was just thankful that shopping doesn’t cause heart attacks. In his defense, the moon was full and there wasn’t a Starbucks or a bar nearby where he could have had a soothing drink. I had this million dollar idea of having a detector go off when he’s uptight so others wouldn’t witness this unexpected item in the whining area gloriously emanating how it was the worst day of his life. He looked less like the perfect man and more of a caged tiger. At that point, it wasn’t difficult to tell ferocious animals and boyfriends apart. One wants to see you, and the other one wants to see you leave. He definitely wasn’t the same person I knew thirty minutes earlier. I think he came extremely close to lifting his middle finger and showing it off. And I thought I was dramatic. I took out my camera phone and pointed it in his direction expressing, “Don’t make me shoot you!”

I gave the guy every opportunity to take off and go somewhere for awhile. He took my key and proceeded out the door and into a torrential downpour looking for my white car in a parking lot loaded with white cars. It truly was the worst day of his life since he didn’t know which car was mine. What doesn’t kill you is suppose to make you stronger, except for maybe a flash flood that could wash you away and you drown while your girlfriend is in her happy place. He should have brought a glumbrella since it was such a gloomy day. I was glad I wasn’t there to hear that conversation he was having with himself. There was a moment thinking about loved ones who weren’t with me anymore, like my loverboy who was camped out in my car probably dying of alienation or old age. I kept pondering on that saying, ‘If you love someone, let them go.’ I was also thinking, ‘If you loathe someone for a short time, let them go too.’

My daughter and I finally made it to the register. But under the burden of an insoluble problem, came another. The gift return label was stuck to the bottom of the shoe that I was exchanging, so when the cashier went to remove it, it tore the bar code which made it impossible to read or scan. It was the highlight of my boyfriend’s bad day having me text him that we were stuck in checkout. I wanted to send him a friend request to see if he still liked me. Helen Keller once quoted, “Life is either a great big adventure, or nothing.” Palm Springs ended up being a great adventure, minus the story my true love told everyone about how my birthday was the worst day of his life. Little does he know that he’s getting snapshots of his bad self for his birthday.

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