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Penkeva: Still traveling at the speed of love

Published: Saturday, March 15, 2014 12:38 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, March 15, 2014 12:39 a.m. CST

I’m on an urgent mission. I have to find an anniversary card for my wife. Pronto. That’s because our anniversary is today, March 15, and so far I’ve come up with bupkus. I think the problem is after all these years of card shopping, I think I’ve totally picked over all the good ones.

There certainly have been some real beauties through the years. Like the one with the photo of two peanuts standing together. On the inside it said, “I’m still nuts about you.” Classic legume humor.

Then there was the card with strips of bacon that made the shape of a heart that said, “Don’t go bacon my heart.” Open it, and it continued, “You couldn’t if you fried.” Or the plain, unassuming one that simply announced, “This is your yearly reminder that you married me.” A gentle mixture of formality and familiarity.

During some years I gave musical greeting cards. There was one with a photo of an old lady with her hair in curlers wearing a tatty bathrobe. Open up the card and you hear Billy Joel singing “She’s Always a Woman to Me.”  

My wife seemed to really like that one, so the next year her card had the same lady, but she was answering the telephone to the music of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” I thought the running concept of the Curler Lady would carry me through the next several years, but when I found the card in the recycle bin the next day, I figured it was time to retire the old lady. Too much of a good thing, I guess.

So that brings me to this year’s card. I’ve searched all over the area without success, although I did come close when I found a Happy Honda Days Michael Bolton greeting card where he sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” to a Civic. I decided not to get it because I thought my wife might think I was hinting at getting her a new car as a present. Plus, when the card played the song at the store, three blue-haired elderly women screamed and tried to rip my shirt off.

I was about ready to settle for a card that said, “You’re the only one I want to annoy for the rest of my life” when I suddenly got an idea. Here’s where it gets a little tricky…

Right now, the audience for this column switches from you readers to my wife. That’s right, Honey, up till now you thought you were just reading another one of your goofy husband’s cheesy columns. But sit down, lash your tatty bathrobe together and tighten your hair curlers (just kidding, geesh!), and get ready for this year’s version of your anniversary card…

Honey, do you remember a while back when I wrote about how you and I have been traveling through life together at the speed of love? And how we measured that speed, not in miles per hour, but in knowing smiles and reassuring touches and tender memories? And how, even though we may be slowing down as we get older, our love is actually speeding up? Remember?

Well, I really couldn’t find a card that said all that. Most of them had either bacon or peanuts or Michael Bolton or the dreaded Curler Lady.

So, I guess all I want to say is that I treasure moving through life with you at the speed of our love. There are no stop signs in sight. And no speed limits. Just buckle up and hold on tight. Happy anniversary!

Now do I get my present?

• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. He bought an emergency backup card just in case this column didn’t work. It tenderly says, “I like you and cake.” Sigh. He can be reached at

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