About 17 years ago, give or take, I'd started seeing a new woman. We got along quite well. We had fun together. Things were going good, but there's always that period early in the relationship where you wonder if this person is The One or infatuation is making them look like a more complete package than warranted by reality. Well, for me, she clinched the deal with a birthday present for me. It wasn't expensive or elaborate, it was just a simple tee shirt (we were both poor journalists back then) but it had emblazoned on the front the spectacular 1950s-style Invaders from Mars poster you can see to the right. Marvin the Martian, you must understand, is my all-time favorite Warner Brothers animation character. I used to imitate his voice with startling accuracy. I'd once planned to make a Halloween costume of him using an old Coors Beer party ball. So that my new girlfriend would not only get me a Marvin the Martian shirt, but one so chock-full of awesome, simply blew me away.
Realize that up until this point, previous girlfriends, if they got me any kind of birthday present at all, generally limited themselves to gifts that appealed to them. Things like turtleneck sweaters or a certain brand of cologne or a CD of some band I'd never heard of but she loved (which was fine, I guess, since the CD stayed at her place and I never actually got to listen to it...). But this Martian shirt simply boggled my mind. When, in my utter shock, I managed to sputter out a half formed question asking what made her choose this particular gift, she just shrugged and said it looked like something I'd like. Now I don't think I'm a particularly secretive person. I don't hold my passions close to the vest. If anything, I'm borderline evangelical in my adoration of Godzilla, the Kinks, Farscape, Tolkien, Green Arrow, Billy Joel, Marvin the Martian, etc. But so help me, this woman was the only one who'd ever actually gotten me even that much.
So I married her. Good call on that one.
Fast forward to last night. Many birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases have come and gone, and I admit we like to shower each other with gifts probably more than is entirely healthy. Some have been more expensive or elaborate than others, some have been downright WOW-inducing, but for me, that simple Invaders from Mars shirt remained the high-water mark. I literally wore that shirt until it fell apart into tiny scraps. And then I tried to wear it just a little more, even though the screen print had long before worn away into mere hints of light and dark. I loved that shirt. No way she could top it. That is, until she gifted me with a limited edition lithograph print (signed by artist Juan Ortiz) of that very same poster, a 21x32 technicolor marvel of Marvin, K-9 and hoards of instant "Just Add Water" Martians descending from space to wreak havoc on the Looney Tunes populace. I'm going to get it framed today.
So yeah, The Wife can still surprise me. And I love her for it.
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