If you’d ever like to talk to both of my parents at the same time, good luck to you, but the odds are best on Friday evenings around five central.  Dad will most likely answer the phone chewing, but will reassure you that they’ve just finished dinner and Mom is even now heading for the office extension.

Yesterday, after the usual catch-up and mandatory exchange of cute grandchildren and animal stories, I asked them what they’d done for their anniversary last week, besides listening to me sing the ‘happy anniversary song’ through their answering machine.*

Mom had spent the entire day at work** and Dad had been at a scouting thing with his troop.  This inspired several lame jokes—see?  Genetics!— about minimum face time being the true secret to a long marriage and happy anniversaries.

“But your Dad did buy me a great gift,” said Mom.

“Good!  What?”  I asked.

“Two heavy duty toilet plungers. One for each Curves.”

“That’s so romantic, Dad,” I said.

“I know.”

Mom laughed.  “No, it was—he drew little happy faces on them with markers and everything.”

I asked her if she was going to make earrings out of them, and she said, “No, I’m going to plunge toilets with them.  The pipes are having problems at the eastern Curves, and our little plunger doesn’t work very well.”

I asked Dad if he’d received a gift.

“Sure,” he said.  “I don’t have to drive across town with our heavy plunger and fix their toilet anymore.”

“He gave himself a gift this year,” said Mom.  “Two gifts— he also gave me a little ratchet kit so I’ll stop borrowing his.”

“You know, Dad,” I said,” traditionally, when a man gives himself an anniversary gift, it involves lingerie.”

“She doesn’t need lingerie,” said Dad.

“I need plungers.  He gave me what I needed—I think that’s pretty romantic.”

There was a moment of silence and all three of us said, “Plungerie!” at the same time.

Nature versus nurture—you decide.

Regardless, I would like to nominate the following word for possible inclusion into the vernacular:


(noun, pl. plungerie)

A needed, practical gift (such as cleaning supplies, kitchen tools, or gardening equipment) given on a romantic occasion, with or without the appreciation of the recipient.
Example:  “As the trauma center staff attempted to remove the blender, Chet realized his mistake in giving plungerie to Vanessa for Valentine’s Day.”

And yeah, I know it sounds a like a little number in satin and leather with more neckline than garment , but there might be rare times when a polite term is needed for situations like these.  Or even an affectionate one.

Of course, not everyone can find romance in the everyday, especially after forty-eight years of marriage . . . but I’m pretty sure that’s the real key to making one last that long.


*This is their punishment for not being home.

**I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but she owns two Curves locations.  Curves is a franchised circuit-training gym for women.