Painful Reminders


Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

 This November my husband Brian and I will celebrate fourteen years of marriage, and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my years as a wife, is that it’s up to me to remind my husband of important holidays.

The most important of these is St. Patrick’s Day.

He never remembers to wear green, and after a day being pinched by his coworkers, I’m the one who has a bad evening.

Each March 17, he stalks through the door and we have the same conversation.

“How was your day?” I ask politely.

“Terrible,” he growls, “[insert coworker’s name] kept pinching me!”

“It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Why didn’t you wear green?”

“I always forget!”

It’s unfair. A man who can’t remember his own mother’s birthday without the Facebook reminder can’t be expected to remember to wear a green shirt once a year.

These days, I remind him of both. I also remind him of his father’s birthday, his grandparents’ birthdays, Easter, President’s Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Christmas.

He can remember my birthday and our anniversary without my help, because I spent the first four years of marriage drilling those dates into his head. As one falls on the 25th of a month and the other on the 23rd, he sometimes swaps the numbers, but at least he gets the months right.

His family realized early in our relationship that I’m the organizer and planner. They phoned me when they wanted him to be somewhere.

“Hello?” I would say into the phone.

“Will you make sure Brian is at our house for dinner this Friday night? His great-great-aunt Mimi is visiting from West-East-Somewhere-Or-The-Other and he hasn’t seen her since he was two,” his father would tell me.

I’m not sure why remembering dates is challenging for Brian. He’s thoughtful and kind, and genuinely cares for his family and friends, but planning ahead doesn’t come naturally to him.

I doubt it’s genetic or due to gender because his father remembers dates acutely. He’s the one who reminds Brian of his siblings’ birthdays.

Perhaps it’s because Brian is a middle child.

Or, perhaps it’s because he’s used to his father’s reminders and never learned to take responsibility for keeping up with important dates. His father and his wife do it for him.

Perhaps, I thought, this year, I wouldn’t lay out his green shirt for St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps a day full of pinching would remind him of the importance of dates.

Of course, if I don’t, I’m the one who has a bad evening.

Perhaps, the consequences of not reminding Brian of dates outweigh teaching him to take responsibility for them himself.

I laid out his green shirt after all.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at or contact her at