Thursday, February 28, 2008


So we've been sleeping for the last year on a Jell-O-filled mattress that was older than Michael Jackson's third nose. It featured one of those headboardless collapsible roll-away frames, which gave our carefully painted bedroom that living-under-the-highway aesthetic that lends all those Law & Order episodes their shocking verisimilitude. And since our bedroom is about as big as Paris Hilton's common sense, the bed's vast kingsiziness was wedged tightly into a corner. Which meant that one of us always had to enter the bed from the foot instead of the side. Which meant we could never tuck in our sheets. And if you can't tuck in your sheets, why the hell should you make the bed in the first place—am I right? Unfortunately, that attitude always led us to this:

But! We recently got a pretty fat check from our escrow account, and instead of investing it back into our mortgage, we decided to invest it in some adult bedroom furniture. Some queen-size bedroom furniture so our house would stop looking like a storage locker. We spend a great deal of time watching TV from our bed, so we wanted something with a padded headboard. And we have closets the size of mouse underpants, so we wanted a bed with built-in storage. So a few clicks on the Internet later—along with two separate delivery trucks, assembly instructions written by a chemically dependent toddler, a special trip to a faraway hardware store and a whole morning of industrial-strength swearing—we are now the proud owners of this:

But the magic doesn't stop there! The mattress is actually on a hydraulic platform, which means we can store thousands of blankets and towels and pillows and Jimmy Hoffa in a place where we can see everything at a glance. Plus, it gave us something totally cool for show-and-tell at last weekend's housewarming party:
Of course, a new size mattress requires a new mattress pad and new sheets. Lord knows how much I hate to shop, but I bravely went out with my credit cards anyway and came back with a splurge of financially impressive proportions: a set of 800-count cotton sheets that are so soft and so cozy and so freakishly nice to snuggle up in that I may never be able to leave our bed. So the jury's still out on how I'm going to get to work to pay for them ... much less our cute little bedside tables and matching lamps:
Best of all, the shopping's still not done! As you can see, my blue alarm clock clashes mightily with our new bedroom set, so I have to go out this weekend to find a new one in tasteful shades of green and chocolate and gold. Plus, my nephew's birthday is on Wednesday and he wants Guitar Hero and something involving rabbits for his new Wii. And we totally need a plunger, but that's probably too much information. Bad touch!

I'm also buying little jars of paint samples for our next project: Operation No More Yellow Hallway. Stay tuned for all the pictures!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hustle up the pictures!

The official Hustle up the Hancock pictures are finally ready after a full day of breathless climbing and then 48 hours of breathless anticipation. Which is actually pretty fast compared to the usual weeks-long wait we have for official pictures after a marathon. Then again, the Hustle organizers took two pictures each of a couple thousand hustlers, while there are usually 10+ pictures each of tens of thousands of marathon runners.

No matter what event you run, bike, swim or climb, the pictures are actually part of a pretty brilliant little business model. The event organizers hire a photography firm that takes thousands of pictures of the athletes at various locations along the routes of their heroic endeavors. Then in some remote sweatshop, Kathie Lee lords over thousands of impoverished children who identify and catalog each picture by bib number. (At least that's one theory. Maybe a computer does it. How would I know? On our recent Royal Caribbean cruise, they had a computer that cataloged all the pictures using facial-recognition software. Which is totally cool. And maybe slightly creepy.)

In any case, after everything's been cataloged, you can search online by your bib number and buy the pictures that make you look the most like a serious athlete. For the Hustle, you can order packages of each picture at prices ranging from $17 to $35. Or if you're cheap and shady, you can just crop a screen capture of each picture and post it on your blog completely free. What Would Kathie Lee Do?

Get to the pictures already!
OK. Jeez! Here I am rounding the first corner, mere seconds after I embarked on my own private Hustle. At least I think this is the first picture. I look equally energetic in this picture and the one they took at the end, so it's hard to tell. But my arm is out in this picture, and at the end I don't remember having the energy to exert myself so wastefully. (Or to gesture so delicately. I kinda look like a big ’mo here.)

Here I am 19 minutes later. I think. I'm one floor from the top of the ’Cock, and I'm looking way perkier than I feel. And despite my generally sweaty sheen, I still have static-y bedhead that manages to look just like a combover. How can you people keep both hands on your keyboards?

I think I'll pass on buying either of these shots, though. There's a reason the pantheon of great sports photography doesn't include a lot of images of people climbing stairs. And in addition to my not-very-athletyness in these pictures, the Hustle shirt makes my tummy look huge and my arms look positively Muppet-like. And I don't see a lot of reason to spend $35 to preserve any of that for posterity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pie. Sky.

Mom and Dad came to Chicago on Friday. They arrived at 3:02 pm and immediately fired up the oven. And over the next 24 hours, we all cranked out 17 pies (and, of course, a giant bowl of whipped cream because no pie has any business in my house without being smothered in real whipped cream). More hot pies!

Mom makes her pies from scratch—including the crusts—and she often has pie parties to celebrate things like birthdays and homecomings and adequately folded laundry and days that end in y. She has a large library of pie plates, but we really had to beg, borrow and steal to get 17 of them in one room at the same time. In order to do my part, I have become the proud owner of four, which means I should probably learn to make some pies on my own one of these days.

I also finally found (and ironed!) a damask cloth big enough to cover our dining room table when it has all 73 leaves in it. Because homemade pies display best on freshly ironed damask.
The final tally:
3 pecan
2 pumpkin
2 cherry
2 banana cream
2 apple
2 lemon meringue
1 custard
1 raisin sour cream
1 strawberry
1 chocolate meringue

And then we invited about 100 people over for a housewarming party on Saturday. Which was lovely, but once I took pictures of the pies I set my camera down and never picked it up again to take pictures of the guests. But the party was really just a thinly veiled excuse for me to pull up a chair and shovel pie down my throat in the name of carb loading anyway. Because this morning I got up at 6:00 and climbed 94 flights of stairs with two friends in Hustle up the Hancock. All without combing my hair:
For the record, Hustle up the Hancock was fun. And by "fun" I mean "poorly organized, painful and kind of gross." By the time we got to the top, we were all tasting blood. Which we later decided was metal. Which we later surmised was from breathing in all the rust dust that had been gathering undisturbed in the metal stairwells since last year's Hustle until it got kicked up by this year's Hustlers. It's currently 13 hours since I finished, and I still have a cough. What's more, the John Hancock Center has at least five floors that are two stories high. Which means we really climbed 99 flights but we got credit for only 94. Where is the justice?

Honestly, though, I'm glad I did it. I've always wanted to see what Hustle up the Hancock was about, and I was fascinated to see how the organizers moved 2,765 people (plus hundreds of volunteers) through space and time in a building with a footprint that's significantly smaller than a city block. (I humbly recommend more signs telling people where to go and what they need to do.) I also had no idea what to expect and certainly no idea how long the event would take me. Past winners have made the climb in under 10 minutes with most people taking 30-40 minutes. We forgot to pay close attention at the top, but we think we made it in 20 minutes. Our official times have yet to be posted.

[This just in: The times are finally posted, and I did the climb in 19:09, which placed me 199 of 445 in my age group and 877 of 2,655 overall finishers.]

Having no way to train for the event (the tallest building I have access to at the moment is 14 stories), my body was quickly shocked by what I was asking it to do. My lungs were burning, my thighs were shaking and my gym shorts were so full of static cling that I was probably a fire hazard with all that dust in the air. But unlike a race where the mile markers are 9 minutes apart, you can watch the floor numbers climb higher and higher in a matter of seconds. Which is a total motivation booster. And unlike a marathon, which typically lasts longer than a Rush Limbaugh marriage, this thing was over in a matter of minutes. So it was more like a Britney Spears marriage.

And Monday morning, I put my name in the lottery for my next challenge: the New York City Marathon, which is a month after the Chicago Marathon, which I'm already entered in. If I get picked for New York, I'll run two marathons back-to-back. So I'm gonna need a lot of motivation. And carbs. Which means Mom is gonna have to make a whole lot more pie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My first thousanth post—with pictures!

Hello! It's been a month since our trip now and I'm finally sorting through all the pictures people have sent me. It's just that our lives have been such a glamorous whirlwind of shivering under blankets and brushing snow off our cars since we got back that I haven't had a minute to devote to blogging. What's more, this is my THOUSANDTH POST*! Who knew I could turn so much nothing into so many hours of wasted time on the Internets?

*There will probably be different thousandth posts in the future, though. I sometimes go back to read old posts and find myself so horrified by their immeasurable boringness that I unceremoniously delete them. Which of course keeps resetting the post counter. Which of course will keep thousandthing posts I haven't even written yet. But if Cher can turn back time, why oh why can't I?

Where was I? Oh, yes: Mike Huckabee drinks the blood of puppies. Also: I have more pix from the cruise! I'll start with this one, which I like because the fiancé crinkles up his eyes when he's happy, and it's so adorable it makes me want to sing show tunes. (But then what doesn't?) He's pretty crinkled here, which tells you all you need to know about how fabulous our trip was. Plus this shirt looks pretty smokin' on him, though he refuses to believe it:

Here we are squinting into the harshly bright, relentlessly relaxing Caribbean sun with our friends Wayne and Glenn. Not to make you feel bad about your cold, gray, non-gay-cruise-taking life, but when this picture was taken, you were probably proofreading commas in your cube wearing three layers of itchy wool and nursing a cold:

Here is the last of the gratuitous Speedo shots of me in my epic struggle to conquer the mighty FlowRider wall-o'-water surfing machine. Judging by the lack of bruising on my body, this picture was probably taken early in my quest for humiliation as I waited in line for yet another opportunity to be thrown around like Jell-O recipes at a Lutheran potluck:

When we're not holding in our stomachs for Speedo pictures on a gay cruise, we're going to shows: comedians, musicals, hypnotists, lounge acts ... even people on stage just singing show tunes. One of the comics on the Atlantis cruise circuit is a British woman who calls herself Pam Ann. The last time I saw her, her whole shtick was that she was a horrible, self-absorbed flight attendant on Pam Ann airlines. And I remember her being hysterical. This year she also did a stand-up set that was pretty funny, though she singled out the fiancé in the audience and picked on him to the point that he was pretty irritated with her. But when she called him up on stage to do some airplane-wing-themed choreography with her other victims, he was a good sport. Plus he looked totally adorable. And totally hot:

Atlantis cruises always feature a mystery surprise headliner. Wild speculation abounds at the beginning of every cruise as to who it will be. People always guess Kathy Griffin (I think our contract requires us to guess that it's Kathy Griffin), but she never shows up. The last two Atlantis cruises I took featured Bruce Vilanch (who wasn't very funny) and Joan Rivers (who totally was, unless she got lost among her cue cards). My friends Jay and Michael recently became BFFs with their cruise's headliner, Debbie Reynolds. And on our cruise this year, we got Wanda Sykes:
DRUNKEN CELEBRITY ALERT! Wanda was funny and raunchy ... and surprisingly way sexier than she looks on TV. But people kept sending drinks to her on the stage. And she kept drinking them. And eventually, she just became a babbling, incoherent fool right there in front of everyone. She got totally lost in her material and she just kept repeating her last couple jokes and struggling to stay vertical as the ship experienced mild rocking. A lot of people in the audience found it funny. We found it to be annoying and wholly unprofessional.

Gay cruises feature themed dance parties almost every night. Costumes are encouraged. And many people costume themselves as though they were auditioning to be backup dancers at a Britney Spears intervention. The fiancé and I aren't that brave. Most of our costumes were of the not-even-remotely-scandalous variety: colored jeans and beads for Mardi Gras, white shorts and hats for the White Party, camouflage shorts and hats for the Dog Tag Tea Dance. On the flip side, we still get to keep our dignity when we look through our pictures. But for the ’70s disco party, one of the guys in our group found these great shorts and socks that came straight out of ’70s gym class. Unfortunately, the shorts were pretty ... um ... short. So they looked pretty trampy on everyone. But as Ponch and John always said, there's safety in numbers:

Our friends Glenn and Wayne dressed as ... um ... gold bugs for the ’70s party. And everyone who danced around them caught gold just like people can catch gay by bumping into homosexuals:

The crowning event of the Atlantis cruise party cycle is the White Party. Which is not, as the confused among you might surmise, a celebration of sale-priced linens. Or a gathering involving malt liquor, missing teeth and people who find self-worth in titles like "grand wizard." It is rather a deafening 14-hour opportunity to celebrate the end of a long vacation and show off the results of a week's worth of tanning in often the tiniest amount of white fabric you can muster up the courage to wear. It's quite a spectacle. And—burst eardrums and forced sleep deprivation aside—it's actually a lot of fun:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday in the audience without the fiancé

We gave ourselves a week off from the gym after we got home from the cruise. Of course, that week stretched to two. And it would have made it to three if I hadn’t found myself wide awake this morning at 3:00. The fiancé had just left for another long trip* and I was suddenly alone and very wide-eyed in our big bed.

*For the record, this marks our second Valentine’s Day apart. But every day in our house is like Valentine’s Day (blogsickness bags are located in the seat pocket in front of you) so we don’t mark the official Valentine’s Day by exchanging any more saccharine text messages than we would on any random Thursday.

So there I was all alone in our big bed. And I did what any lonely, red-blooded man would do in my situation: I fired up my laptop. And there, by the warm, flickering glow of my screen, I furtively played with my impressively lengthy—and uncomfortably hard—list of Scrabulous!™ games on Facebook. Then I answered about 10 emails that had been languishing in my inbox. Then—since it was already 6:00 and my alarm was within an hour of going off anyway—I got dressed and headed to the gym.

It wasn’t until I was well into my 20-minute stair climb that I looked down and realized it was a good thing my husband-hunting days were behind me. Because in the dark this morning I somehow ended up dressing myself like a bar mitzvah clown: white running shoes, yesterday’s black dress socks, yesterday’s moss green undershirt and terrorist-alert orange running shorts that had climbed clear up my thighs to celebrate the invention of static cling. I was definitely looking less than my best. And husbands, my lord, are weak.

My day has been a sleep-deprived fog ever since, though I’m proud to report I did manage to assemble a reasonably color-coordinated office ensemble in time for work.

And now it’s almost 8:00 pm. And while I’m still at work, the fiancé is nestled snugly in a Broadway theater digesting a faux-Mexican dinner while watching a British revival of an American musical about a French painter. I’m engaged to the goddamn U.N.

But before he got his passport stamped, he sent me a saccharine Valentine’s Day text message telling me how much he wishes he could be sharing all this with me tonight:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Golden dreams

The fiancé likes to fall asleep to The Golden Girls. He grabs an episode off the TiVo, turns the volume way down and sets the TV timer for 30 minutes. And both of us are usually out cold before Blanche says something slutty, Rose says something stupid or Dorothy wears something asymmetrical.

Which is weird. And not Bea-Arthur-in-a-diagonal-zippered-caftan weird. I mean weird in the sense that normally I'm a moth to a flame when the TV is on. Even for things I find ridiculous like football or home shopping or Mitt Romney. Even when I'm already doing something that usually totally engages me like playing Scrabulous!™ or cataloging my sparkly underpants. If there is a TV on and I'm within three ZIP codes of it, I will find it. And I will be powerlessly drawn to it. Bright screen ... warm glow ... flickering images ... mindless content ... must ... watch ...

And yet The Golden Girls has almost no sway over me. Oh, sure—once in a while when I'm not particularly sleepy or I'm feeling extra cuddly with the fiancé pressed up against me and I just want to savor the moment for a while before I drift off, I'll stay up and watch the show in the hopes that one of the girls will say lanai or Blanche will bring home a guy who's actually attractive for once.

But otherwise, the show is as compelling to me as exclusive coverage of a starlet with a drug problem.

Then again, if there's one thing I can do better than anyone on this planet, it's fall asleep. I hate to brag, but I can climb in bed and be asleep before the lightbulb gets cold. And usually nothing can wake me—not thunderstorms, not marching bands, not flaming housepets ... unfortunately, not even my alarm on most mornings. So it's not surprising that The Golden Girls continues to lose Bedtime Smackdown! every night.

But all bets are off when the fiancé is out of town. Like tonight. When I have the whole bed to myself I seem to lie awake forever—albeit with my fair share of the pillows for once. And as luck would have it, the only Golden Girls on our TiVo is the one where Dorothy wears that turquoise top with the gold lamé shrug. And it's waaaaay too loud to let me sleep.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Three co-workers. One outfit.

It's hard to tell from this grainy pic, but three of us showed up for work today wearing the same shirt. I know! Crazy! And then I talked us all into posing like total ’mos to record the coincidence for posterity. Thank goodness I didn't do something even more embarrassing like post the pic on the Internets.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pictures! I finally have pictures!

My friends who actually used their cameras on the cruise are finally sorting through and sharing the thousands of pictures they took. Here is a handful from our friend Jim, who requests photo credit for his hard work. (Happy now?)

The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas is purportedly one of the largest cruise ships in the world. It holds 3,634 passengers with 16 elevators serving 13 floors. And that's just for the paying customers. It also houses a skating rink, a rock-climbing wall, a surf park, and enough hot tubs and pools to create a lunar gravitational pull. At 1,112 feet, it's longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. And during an Atlantis cruise, it holds more shoes and body glitter and visible ab muscles than the cumulative history of the Miss America pageant.

The fifth floor features a grand promenade running almost the entire length of the ship. It's filled with shops and restaurants and pubs and plenty of chairs where you can just sit and watch the boys go by. The windows on the sides of the promenade are actually stateroom windows. And on a ship, stateroom means bedroom. I don't know how the windows on these rooms function on straight cruises, but on gay cruises, you look up into them at your own peril; our people hang enough Princess Sparklepony decorations in their windows to blind an entire generation of kindergarteners.

Bon voyage! Here's a big chunk of our group assembled on one of the pool bridges as 3,634 homos slowly boarded the ship with their steamer trunks full of shoes. Our friend Jim—the same one who supplied all these pictures—flew in actual flower leis for us from Hawaii, which in addition to being festive and beautiful also garnered us plenty of attention as the passengers were starting to get to know each other. Which is never a bad thing. Getting 20+ gay men to sit still for one picture in the midst of all that attention is about as easy as herding kittens, though, so I don't think a single photo exists of our entire group.

Here we are with our friend Jeremy as the ship is slowly pulling out of Miami. The sunset is giving us a saintly glow in ironic juxtaposition to the wholly unintentional suggestiveness of our matching C-Men shirts.

Here's the upper pool deck packed with revelers in our first outdoor party: the dog tag tea dance. "Tea dance"—a throwback to more genteel times when I presume actual tea was served at such events—just indicates an afternoon dance in the gay-people-who-like-to-dance world. And even "dance" is a bit of a misnomer at the daytime parties because most people just seem to stand around and yell to each other over the music. But still: loud music + shirtless men + being on a ship in the Caribbean still = fun. (Since there's a military theme to this party, many people are wearing camouflage. Which is why you probably can't see them.)

Here I am with the fiancé after one of many fabulous dinners in the magnificent three-story dining room. There is a jeweled chandelier as big as a Humvee suspended from the ceiling behind us. It's hidden by our bellies, which are distended beyond recognition after we gobbled up probably four desserts each. We were hoping this picture would be our favorite keepsake of the whole trip; it looked great on the little screen on Jim's camera, but now that it's blown up a bit we think our faces look kind of goofy.

Me, Justin, Jim and Jeff. Again: the same Jim of photo and lei fame. The same Jim who requested photographer credits if I posted his pictures on my blog. (Happy now?) Also the same Jim who consistently has the best smile in every picture he takes even when the rest of us around him look like we're passing gallstones.

Here's Royal Caribbean's private beach on Labadee, Haiti, as seen from the ship. The white triangles floating in the water near the shore are giant inflatable icebergs you can climb up and slide down. Which is way harder than it looks. But still fun. The blue and yellow thing just above them in the picture is a three-story inflatable water slide. The day we were there, a bunch of gay boys stood at the bottom with homemade signs to rate people Olympic-judge-style as we screamed like wet schoolgirls all the way down the slide. All of which was so much fun it should be illegal.

Here's Justin and me on the pool deck with Miss Richfield 1981, a darling girl who is still on tour after winning her Minnesota county fair pageant title almost three decades ago. Such a dedicated titleholder she is.

Come back soon for even more pictures. With costumes!

I'm a little woozy

I spent the day refinishing our dining room table, and the vapors are giving me the vapors.

Actually, by "refinishing our dining room table" I mean "sanding and restaining two legs that had gotten all alligatory" so by "spent the day" I really mean "spent a grand total of about 35 minutes" because the entire surface area I worked on was about two square feet, and those 35 minutes included two coats of stain. In my defense, though, I'll probably need a third coat of stain and some kind of sealant that will probably have to cover the whole table to give everything a consistent sheen. Which could conceivably take a few hours. Which almost adds up to a day. If you use certain kinds of math.

In any case, the freshly stained legs look pretty amazing. And by "amazing" I mean "like the alligators had never attacked in the first place." Which is all you really hope to achieve in a project like this.

Besides, I don't have much time to be rubbing away endlessly at a beat-up old (yet marvelously polished and well cared for) dining room table; I've recently discovered Scrabulous!™, the highly addictive but not officially sanctioned Facebook version of Scrabble®, which is probably my favorite game in the whole world. OK, my second favorite game in the whole world, right after Too Many Shoes!®, the highly addictive shopping game that apparently doesn't have a finish line.

In any case, I've been on Facebook for about a month, and just last weekend I discovered Scrabulous!™ and its magical powers over every last moment of my life. On Scrabulous!™, you can play multiple not-officially-Scrabble® games with multiple people all at the same time. You add a word when you're logged on, see, then your opponent adds a word when he or she is logged on while in the mean time you log back on every 13.5 seconds to see if it's your turn again. Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be a limit to the number of games you can have going at once, so I'm currently playing ... um ... 15 games. ("Hi. My name's Jake. And I'm a Scrabulous!™aholic.") And I'm getting my ass kicked in two of them. (My former friend Bill is at this writing walloping me 365 to 128, with an "existed" that netted him 94 frigging points. But I got 8 points for "hen," so I'm catching up.)

I hope the magical pull of Scrabulous!™ wears off (or the copyright infringement jury finds for the plaintiff) before the spring thaw, though, because I just registered to run the 2008 Chicago Marathon. And I probably should eventually step away from the computer and do some training for it.

This will be my fifth* marathon, and I'll run it at the age of 40—a tidy little divisible-by-five coincidence that means nothing, though it passes a few marginally interesting pieces of information along in what trained writers would call exposition. And if I run it in four hours, there will be additional divisible-by-fourness to add to the math fun. Whee!

*For those of you keeping score at home, I have entered four marathons so far and, thanks to last year's mid-marathon cancellation, finished only three. BUT! I've kept an emergency replacement marathon in my back pocket all this time; I ran a full marathon-length training run a few summers ago. So I can still say I've run four complete marathons without perjuring myself if I get called before the marathon tribunal. Assuming such a tribunal exists and for some reason I get called before it.

My peeps (I use peeps to show that I'm down with the kids, yo) and I aren't running with the AIDS Marathon program this year, though. Their training program focuses on getting you across a finish line instead of reaching a time goal, and I really want to beat four hours this year. Plus, I really hate asking people for money. (So click the icon near the top right of your screen and sponsor me in Hustle up the Hancock already so I can stop asking. Ahem.) Plus, some Saturdays I'd really rather run at 2:00 in the afternoon instead of 5:00 in the morning. Somebody's going to be 40 awfully soon, so somebody needs his beauty rest.

Speaking of rest, it's pretty late on a school night, so somebody had better stop blogging and get some sleep.

Just as soon as he checks his Scrabulous!™ games, of course. Because words are more important than sleep. Especially when they give you triple-word scores.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Happy birthday to my mom!

This is one of those non-milestone years for her -- she's in that awkward phase between too old to be Miss America and too young to star in a Rascal commercial on some three-digit cable channel.

But we're glad she's with us, especially after the scares she put us through last fall. Watching your parents get old and start to fall apart is never any fun, but -- as the saying goes -- it beats the alternative: watching them get younger and better-looking as you get old and fall apart yourself.

And I hate to spoil the surprise, Mom, but I'm still in that awkward phase between never having any time to shop and never having any good ideas for presents. So you're getting another nice fat check in the mail. Tucked into a cat-themed card. Because nothing says I love you like a card from Target with a picture of a cat on it.

I hope I timed it so it arrives today for you. And I hope you use the money to buy something fun. Because I'd hate to think I bought you vacuum-cleaner bags for your birthday. I may be a bad gift-giver, but the gift of clean floors is a new low, even for me.

P.S. Happy birthday to the fiancé's brother as well. It is a strange little coincidence that you share a birthday with my mom, but it makes for one fewer date I have to store in my bad-gift-giving brain. And the Department of Birthday Coincidences doesn't stop there; we both turn 40 this year. But just remember: You will always be older than I am.