"I will never understand women."
The college student next to him at the bar looked up from his book. "Married or not?"
"Trust me, that has nothing to do with it," Schanke muttered and finished his beer, waving for another one. "Married. And a daughter."
"Ah. Did you forget an anniversary or a birthday?"
He mostly looked amused, but a little sympathetic, too; it was that last that got an answer. "Hey, what are you, a mind-reader?"
"A student of human nature. You know: I read dramas and mysteries." He looked very amused. "Besides. It's barely midnight and you're having a second beer instead of going home."
"Back to work, not home. Night shift. But I don't have a present for tomorrow and the stores won't open before I get off work."
The student chuckled. "Which is it, anniversary or birthday? Anniversary is easier. Well, unless you did this last year, too."
"Nah, my partner reminded me last year. This year, he forgot." Schanke considered that. "Okay, fine, I forgot."
"Right, then. Hit an all-night store, get a card and some candy, and I would suggest a suitable IOU written in the card." The student went back to his book, adding absently, "And good luck."
Schanke brightened up. "Thanks, man." He left a tip on the bar and hurried out, calling back, "Good luck with whoever she is."
Adam Pierson examined his ringless hands. "Now he gets a clue?" He shook his head and went back to Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, muttering quietly to the book about "Too much credit' and to the bar about "Un-anniversaries work better after that many wives anyway..."