Ever wonder how one of those old pump-handle water wellheads w

Ever wonder how one of those old pump-handle water wellheads worked?

Me neither.

But when my wife, to whom I will have been married 10 years this Friday, decided the perfect addition to the back yard this year would be a series of oak barrels cut in half, stacked one somewhat higher than the other with holes drilled in their sides and filled with water that would be recirculated by an electrical pump up from the lowest barrel through a tube inserted into an old pump-handle wellhead from an antique shop I said, “Sure! You buy the materials and I’ll go enroll in hydrodynamic engineering school.”

But somehow I was able to make it work so that now our back yard looks like a set from an old Western movie where the good guy and the bad guy have fired like 400 shots each from two six-shooters and managed only to wound the water tank at the train depot, which is now spewing water out its side.

Never mind the nuances I discovered in trying to get the same amount of water to flow into the top barrel as is gushing out its side into the lower barrel. That was a cakewalk compared to my wife’s original request for a real, working water wheel that would be decorative and quaint, yet still provide electrical power for the neighborhood in the event of an outage.

But undertaking tasks for which we have no skills or training that, like mixing water and electricity, are more suicidal than working in the Clinton administration is one of the duties and wonders of being a husband.

That and being able to dispose of dead cockroaches.

I say all this in the hope that my wife will recall all of the nice things I’ve done for her over the last 10 years so that if Friday rolls around and I still haven’t located that perfect anniversary gift she will have mercy on me and make it a swift, painless death.

I’m just no good at shopping for these kinds of events. Despite my insistence that the 10th anniversary is actually the dinner-and-a-movie anniversary, everyone else, most notably women, seem convinced it has something to do with jewelry, particularly diamonds.

However, my knowledge of jewelry would fill the space occupied by a good-sized hydrogen molecule. After several earlier attempts at it failed miserably with stones falling out, rings that didn’t fit well and bracelets that turned your wrist a lovely shade of green, I basically have sworn off buying any more jewelry.

That leaves me wondering what would be appropriate for a 10-year anniversary.

“A divorce,” my wife said when I asked her. What a kidder. She actually likes jewelry.

But when you really stop to think about it, what material object, what man-made contrivance can really express the love and bond between two people who have been together for a decade? What mere token can represent the feelings that 10 years of toil and sacrifice together can create between a husband and wife?

Why must we let society dictate to us that true affection can only be expressed when accompanied by the transfer of large sums of cash? It’s time we broke the mantle of societal expectations and just expressed our true feelings with a gentle hug and a sincere, “I love you.”

I’m a dead man.

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal.

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