Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mr. and Mrs.

     With all the talk about the institution of marriage floating around the internet, the office water cooler, and the court systems, I believe I shall dip my quill into the inkwell and insert my two cents. 
      Talk to any girl under the age of 22 about marriage, and the first thing out of her mouth is, “Well, I’d love to have a ______ wedding.” WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST FOR AN IMPORTANT NEWS BULLETIN: THE WEDDING IS ONE-ONE HUNDRED THOUSANTH OF A PERCENT OF THE MARRIAGE. It’s a ceremony. It’s a party. It’s a 3, 4, maybe even 8 or 9 hour event that pales in comparison to the thoughts of “every-single-day-for-the-next-sixty-years”. And those next sixty years are going to be full of surprises. You do know that, right?

      I think people have the wrong idea about marriage. It is not a partnership of equals. It is a cohesion of opposites that brings about intensive self-evaluation, personal maturity, and a hint of crazy. It is a union of two twelve-year-olds who still want their own room, their own individual cupcake, their own way, and the last laugh. The façade of two mature adults blending their lives into a perfect union of trust and equality is really funny to me. I knew a couple who appeared to be the epitome of grace and maturity; a true communion of souls in a 4-bedroom house. But, truth be told (over a pitcher of margaritas one night), they were anything but graceful and mature. He liked to skip bathing on the weekends: a) because he’s lazy, and b) because she found it repulsive. She, on the other hand, stopped shaving when the pools closed and didn’t take up the habit again until Easter. I sat there staring at The Yankee while our friends regaled with stories so shocking we couldn’t stop thinking about it. That night, we were laying in bed staring into the blackness and discussing what we had heard. “We’re pretty normal, aren’t we, Bert?”, he said. I thought about that one for a moment. “If you mean ‘normal’ as in you don’t let yourself smell like an outhouse all weekend and I don’t spend my winters with legs and armpits like Donkey Kong, then I guess so.”

      But the real truth is we all have weirdness: stuff that disqualifies us from winning the award for “Most Normal”. Just think about it. My best friend, Pocahontas, can’t watch any show about pack rats because she spends the next six hours throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down. My sister-in-law, Red, faints at the sight of any blood that isn’t her own. My dad grew up in abject poverty and is so scared of running out of toilet paper, he has kept a 12-pack of squeezable 2-ply in his closet for as long as I’ve known him. When it really comes down to brass tacks, I suppose weirdness is the new normal … and if couples can learn to adjust to each other’s weirdness, the world just might be a happier place. I’ve had plenty of practice getting used to The Yankee’s weirdness. He has a love affair with sleep that no basketball game, favorite food, or delicately perfumed wrist can trump.

      It was a Saturday and I’d been up with Buttercup since 8 o’clock. I scrubbed floors, washed clothes, dusted ceiling fans, changed sheets, and baked bread while The Yankee stayed curled up until well after Noon. Then, as he dragged his Yankee butt into the living room, he flopped in the recliner and fell asleep for another hour. I would have a splitting headache if I slept that long, but I’m a girl and girls rule. (Sorry … just a little hint of the 12 year old in me dying to get out and post his drooling picture on Twitter.) As I pull Buttercup’s comforter out of the dryer and head up to her room, I can hear The Yankee stirring. He’s reading one of my “useless trivia” books that I enjoy at the end of a long day and, even though he is not a reader, he enjoys the tidbits of information. As I struggle to re-make the bed, I hear him laughing, the foot of the recliner being lowered, and then his voice reverberating through the house. “Bertha!” he calls, still laughing, “You gotta hear this!” He finds me, props himself against Buttercup’s door frame, and starts reading some pointless fact I would have otherwise found amusing were it not for me standing on my head adjusting a contrary dust ruffle. Part of me was irritated. I’ve been going at this housework for hours and where has he been? Snoozing, that’s where. Taking up space, serving no purpose, contributing nothing to the universe or the household. And now, when I’m continuing my quest for a nice, clean home, he’s tracking me down for useless trivia? Really?!!? Then suddenly, it hits me. He … tracked ME down. Of all his e-mail buddies, of all his weird friends, of all our family members he could have contacted to share this tidbit that made him laugh, he went looking for me. I was the first one on his mind when he wanted to share something. I could have ignored him. I could have huffed, puffed, and made a BIG DEAL out of the fact that I’m the one doing all the housework while he and his blankie spend some quality time together. I could have said something snarky. But I didn’t. I laughed with him, told him how funny it was, and asked him what he wanted for dinner. He inhaled deeply and said, “I smell fresh bread and lemony-fresh cleanser. You’ve been watching that show about people’s dirty houses again, haven’t you.” It was a statement, not a question, and I couldn’t deny it. Yes, I’d been watching it. What? You’ve never seen someone else’s dirt and been inspired to clean up your own? The look on my face was evidently funny to him because he laughed, put the book down, and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

      “You’re a dork. How about I go get takeout for dinner tonight, huh? And here, let me help you with that stupid dust ruffle.” Yes, he’s weird, but he’s my Mister. I can handle his brand of weirdness. I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but I could live without that recliner.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.

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