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Shopping for the rancher who has everything

by Marie Johnson

“The pleasure of your company is requested for wine and hors d’oeuvres, in the garden at four, Ceremony at Sunset, Furnace Creek, Death Valley.”

This has to be one of the most idyllic wedding announcements I have ever received, sweethearts meeting in the garden, getting married at sunset. The irony that it is taking place in Death Valley near Valentine’s Day is not lost on me, though.

I was sure something was up as I continued to read on the card, “No gifts, please.” That is going to cause problems. This invitation sent by my husband’s good college buddy, who has never been married before, troubles us because we want to respect his wishes, but we still want to give a gift honoring this momentous event. I know this friend is sensitive because he keeps a cat and apparently is romantic, yet practical. But looking at our own practical friends here in this Valley, we see gifts of good intentions causing unwanted strife.

One example is our dairy friend who gave his wife two dozen beautiful, red roses to celebrate a sentimental occasion. She was elated and we girlfriends shared her exuberance enthusiastically while the men folk, or possibly just my husband, said sarcastically, “Great, Chris, now you’ve gone and set a standard!”

Another time, one of my girlfriends received sparkling emerald earrings from her husband. She gave him a pair of large, wooly slippers that actually pull on over his muddy work boots so when he comes in for lunch he does not track mud all over the kitchen floor. She got mad because he spent the money it takes to buy beautiful jewelry. He was flabbergasted by her response. Anger was not what he expected for emeralds set in gold.

These incidents prove one never knows for sure how the gift one gives could be misconstrued.

For gifts, I can accept roses, emeralds and possibly even wooly, work boot slippers. My husband is even easier to please. He loves tools. He cannot have enough. he doesn’t care if he gets duplicates or the wrong color. He could always use more. And when he does use them, I benefit, too.

My husband likes tools so much, even though he doesn’t like home shopping parties, he did say if famous lingerie models would parade around his living room displaying power tools, he would find time to host the event. Somehow my girlfriends and I walking around in our robes and slippers showing off hand tools just isn’t appealing. So, he goes to the hardware store where a regular salesperson helps him make a selection, pointing out all the attractive features.

Tools get us back to this “no gifts, please” wedding invitation. Maybe tools would be an appropriate present. The bride apparently has no need or want for china, crystal or silver. We don’t want to upset her, but a groom can never have too many tools. Maybe a nice, big money wrench with their names etched into the handle would be appreciated.

Marriage is serious business and good friends should show romantics the right path. We’ll see. The ceremony is at sunset and we sweethearts will be in the garden waiting for the bridge and groom with our gift.

n Marie Johnson is a Fredericksburg, Calif., resident and is married to Kent Neddenriep. They have two sons, Kyle, 10, and Bradley, 7. Her column, “Fence lines,” appears once a month.