It was our tenth anniversary and I wanted to make it a day Meka wouldn’t soon forget. I knew people celebrated their diamond anniversary after sixty years. I was pretty sure the fiftieth anniversary was symbolized by gold. I looked up ten years on the Internet and found out the traditional gift is tin.
I didn’t want Meka to miss a minute of our special day. I woke her up early with breakfast in bed. The tray was a bit beat up; they haven’t made TV trays out of tin since I was a kid. I found one on eBay in reasonably good condition. Meka held it tight in her lap so the left leg wouldn’t give way. She passed on the canned fruit cocktail I had poured out. It was in heavy syrup (and when they say heavy, they mean heavy; it was essentially fruit flavored gravy). I guess she didn’t care much for the guava nectar either. It was imported from Mexico and the only kind of juice I could find in an actual tin can. Most beverages are in aluminum cans these days. Meka got up to brush her teeth. I heard her gasp.
“I probably should have mentioned the new toothpaste,” I said through the closed door. “Crest Pro Health uses stannous fluoride instead of sodium fluoride.”
“What happened to the lights?” she asked. I had forgotten about that. I put in brand new fluorescent tubes. They have a tin based powder inside. It’s what gives them that special kind of light that accentuates all the detail on people’s faces. She got dressed and followed me downstairs. I had picked up one of those special magnets made of tin and niobium they sell through the scientific catalogues. I had stuck it to the fridge, but I couldn’t seem to pull it loose. Well, she’d find that later. I had plenty of gifts. I handed her an envelope. Meka opened it slowly.
“Stock?” she asked. She pulled out the certificate and looked at the attached print-out. “What’s Temple-Inland?” I explained they were a company out of Texas. They specialized in making cardboard boxes and building materials. The housing bust had hurt their business. They had closed some plants and let a lot of people go.
“I thought it was symbolic of us,” I said.
“Moving from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’?” I laughed and pointed to the Dow Jones ticker initials: T-I-N.
“Get it?” She got it. Meka smiled when I handed her a small present. She opened it up and looked surprised to find it was Altoids.
“You think I have bad breath?”
“Of course not,” I lied. “They come in a tin.” She nodded.
“I was kind of hoping for something… you know…” I knew what she wanted. Over the years, I’ve tried to shower Meka with jewelry. Unfortunately, it’s been more of a thin drizzle. She was excited I had something for her to wear while we were out. She closed her eyes and I placed the tinfoil crown on her head. I got the idea from Lone Star Steakhouse. They make you one special when it’s your birthday. The tin is impervious to rusting by water. I told her it would last a long, long time.
“We’ll see about that,” Meka replied.
We jumped in the car and drove downtown. A number of buildings in Belvidere date back to the late 19th century. The town was a transit hub and one of the biggest makers of tin toys. Meka wanted to stop and take a look at the antique stores and maybe have some ice cream, but I kept her moving. Eleven stores still have their original hammered tin ceilings. I wanted to make sure she didn’t miss a single one. After that, we drove down to Byron to look at the nuclear power plant. Maybe I seemed a little too excited when I explained a tin based alloy coats the fuel rods. Even though it was our anniversary, the guard at the gate wouldn’t let us in. It was still a nice drive; about an hour there and an hour back. I explained they use a lot of tin alloys in manufacturing processes, including making beer and pharmaceuticals.
“Did you get me any pharmaceuticals for our anniversary?” I laughed and shook my head. “I don’t suppose you bought me any beer,” she asked.
“They haven’t made beer in tin cans in a long time,” I replied. “Besides, you wouldn’t want to start drinking so early, would you?” Meka didn’t say anything; I think she was admiring the view. We got home as the sun was setting. I put on the movie I ordered from Netflix. Believe me, it wasn’t easy locating an industrial film on the Peruvian Mining Industry. It was in black and white, but the sound was pretty decent, considering it was produced in 1937. They probably used tin ribbon microphones in the studio. It was a very educational hour and a half. I got up and gave her first choice for dinner.
“We have Beefaroni and Spam,” I said. I heated up the tins and handed her a dish and silverware from an old Boy Scout camping kit. We sat on the couch and ate slowly while watching The Wizard of Oz on BluRay. Meka seemed pretty engrossed in the movie. I slowly leaned over, put my arm around her shoulder and whispered in her ear.
Meka screamed and acted like she was trying to stab me in the chest. The knife was made of tin and just bent on my shirt. I thought it was a pretty good joke and had a good laugh. Meka apparently laughed so hard, it made her cry.