It was a sunny Friday in May of 1981. A few days away from finishing my student teaching practicum, I had spent a frustrating morning attempting to teach yearbook design and narrative essays to seniors who were past caring about anything more than their baby oil suntans and summer party plans. I was leaving the building for lunch, hoping a DQ banana split with extra maraschinos would lift my spirits, when my boyfriend’s car screeched to a halt at the curb.
Great! Maybe he would buy my lunch, something a little more substantial than two scoops of dairy and a few slices of fruit. But, no, he had other plans. When I hopped into the car, he turned to me, grinning, and said,
“So . . . do you want to go pick out rings?”
It wasn’t exactly a bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries, but it was something.
I don’t remember ever actually talking about marriage in the two years we’d been dating–and his “proposal” wasn’t quite as romantic as my diary dreams had envisioned, but it was good enough. “Sure!” I responded, and then added an enthusiastic hug and kiss for good measure. We drove to his friend’s jewelry store, where I picked out something small and practical (because that’s the kind of gal I am), and then we were off to share the news with our mamas. My mom cried and hugged us both, and his mom clapped her hands together before uncorking a bottle of champagne.
Fast forward seven months to the rehearsal dinner the night before THE DAY. My soon-to-be husband stood before our gathered friends and family and entertained them with a greatly altered story about the day I had realized what a great “catch” he was–and had asked him to marry me. Wait, what? Everyone else laughed, but the burgeoning feminist inside me bristled. I was no beggar. I was tempted to remind funnyman that there were still other “fish in the sea” and that, for the next few hours anyway, “catch and release” was still an option.
Instead, I waited for him to finish his little comedy routine before quietly announcing to the crowd:
“Just to clarify, I didn’t ask him to marry me. I TOLD him.”
That was almost 33 years ago. He still thinks he’s funny, and I still think I’m the boss, but he makes me laugh and I make him crazy, and somehow that combination clicks. He claims he would marry me all over again, which I think proves he is a glutton for punishment (of the cruel and unusual kind) because when I think about all my annoying little (big) habits, heck, even I could never be married to me.
And here’s why:
- I’m a whiner. Okay, maybe not about everything, but I do cry and complain, pout and moan about my inability to lose any more weight–while I’m munching my way to the bottom of the Cheetos bag and then cleansing my palate with a glass of wine before attacking the pan of brownies.
- I’m wasteful. Even though our sons have been out of the house for several years now, I still haven’t figured out how to cook for just two people–which results in a refrigerator crammed with the greasy, slimy, soggy, sloppy remains of pizzas and roasts and fish and casseroles that send my gag reflex into overdrive. Hubby can take those leftovers for his lunch (day after day after day), or I can pitch them once they’re no longer identifiable–but I’m not eating them.
- I worry too much. I wake up, sleep-deprived, from a restless night of battling bad guys and conquering armies of what ifs. A cup of tea and a hot shower will clear away all the nonsense, but within minutes all the nervous neurons in my caffeinated brain have fired themselves into a tizzy. It might rain out our picnic. (Yeah, but it might not.) What was that noise? Is that escaped convict from the jail two counties over hiding in our basement. (Really? He’d pass a few thousand other houses just to get to ours?) If I shake my groove thing on the dance floor tonight, everyone will laugh at me. (Get over yourself. They’re too busy having fun to notice inconsequential, little you.) The sheriff’s office left a message on the answering machine while I was in the shower, asking me to call back as soon as possible. Oh no! Is something wrong with one of our boys? Or has there been a sighting of that escaped convict in our area after all? I can barely breathe as I dial the number. (M’am, you’ve been selected for the jury pool. Please report next Thursday at 9 a.m.)
- I have very little patience. Sure, I can stand motionless with my camera as minutes tick into eternity, waiting for a sunrise or sunset and then shooting hundreds of photos as the shifting colors mesmerize me. But if I have to learn something new–especially if such knowledge is contained within the pages of an instruction manual (and especially if that instruction manual is for a technology device)–then 30 seconds of profound confusion is all I can handle before slamming the manual and the offending device to the floor and going in search of that pan of brownies to calm my tear-streaked rage.
- I try to (s)mother my husband. When I’m not feeling well, I want to be left alone. Let me sleep away this headache, and let me puke in private. But when my husband is sick, I just can’t let him be–it’s my job to take care of him, isn’t it? Do you need anything? More Kleenex? Some Advil? (I really think you should take some Advil.) I’ll make you some chicken noodle soup. (You don’t want any? It would make you feel better–I think you should eat some.) And even when he isn’t sick, I still think I need to take care of him (control him) by advising him what to do (when he hasn’t asked) because that’s just how I am (because my students are gone and my kids are grown, and I have no one else to nurture/annoy).
- I am unfazed by bedroom and bathroom clutter. I couldn’t be married to me if I were having to rummage through laundry baskets for clean work shirts that have yet to be folded or trying to find a tiny spot to lay my razor on the bathroom counter–just one little spot amid the lotions and gels and sprays and makeups and curling irons and jewelry. Sure, I could spend a few minutes everyday putting all those clothes and beauty implements in their proper places, but I have more important things to worry about (like escaped convicts hiding in the basement) and more important things to do (like mixing up another batch of brownies).
- I spend too much money on clothes I don’t need. And at the risk of incriminating myself, I have nothing further to say on that subject.
- I would be GROSSED OUT by stubbly legs rubbing up against mine. An Australian study last year revealed that women find men with heavy facial stubble to be attractive and desirable; if a similar study someday concludes that men feel the same way about women with heavy leg stubble, that just might be my ticket to a spot on AskMen’s list of the Top 99 Most Desirable Women (geriatric edition). In the meantime, I’ll continue to be disgusted by my own wintry growth of leg whiskers (but not enough to do anything about it).
Just as I was putting what I thought were the finishing touches on my list of annoying habits, my husband entered the room. I told him what I was writing and asked if he had anything to add.
“Nope. You’re wonderful.” (Translation: “You’re asking me to criticize you? Do you think I’m stupid? You’ll get mad and then wait ’til I’m sleeping to carve my calves with all that dang stubble. I ain’t playing this game!”)
But when I read him my list, the temptation to contribute to the bashing (offer his loving assistance) was just too great, and so here are even more reasons why, according to Hubby, I could never be married to me:
- I’m too controlling. I do not like to be controlled, although apparently I have no qualms about wielding the whip myself. I don’t issue commands, though; my bossiness is much more subtle, passive-aggressive even. Don’t you want this last piece of pie? (Eat it!) Do you think maybe you could take out the trash before the pungent stench of raw chicken scraps permeates the entire house? (Do it! Do it now!) Are you seriously going to wear those plaid shorts with that Hawaiian shirt? (I’m not leaving this house with you until you change.)
- My driving would scare the hell out of me. I speed up and slow down, speed up and slow down. I tailgate. I won’t pass. I drift toward the center when going over a hill. I get distracted by the scenery. (Reminder: These are Hubby’s opinions, not mine. I think my driving is just fine–and I only tailgate people who don’t drive the speed limit.)
- I roll my eyes. Okay, yeah, I’d probably have to slap myself over this one.
- I ask too many questions–about everything. Hey, I have an inquisitive mind–how else can I learn without asking questions? I am interested in the opinions and activities of others–isn’t it polite to show that interest through thoughtful inquiry? And is it so wrong to want to know where you’re going, what you’re going to be doing, who you’re going to be with, when you’re going to be home, how many beers you think you might have?
- I sigh heavily. Repeatedly. Hubby refers to this not-so-affectionately as “the hiss of the snake” and claims I do it whenever I’m not happy with something he’s doing or has done (which apparently is fairly often). I think the hiss is from choking back all those questions I’m dying to ask.
- I don’t know how to correctly place the toilet paper roll onto the toilet paper holder. And that matters because . . . ?
It was around this point in the conversation that I decided I’d heard more than enough about me and my faults (even if I had been the one to bait the hook).
“So what about you?” I asked. “Would you like a list of some of your more annoying habits?”
“Hell, no. I don’t need a list. I’m perfect just the way I am.”
“So, you’re saying that you could be married to you?”
And there you have it, folks. He’s a keeper.
But, crazy as it seems, apparently so am I.
And all the other fish in the sea are safe.
Note: I may never have enough patience to figure out the intricacies of the television remote, but I have more than enough for shooting . . .
daisies after a morning shower . . .
the gentle glow of a sunrise . . .
the inspiring beauty at day’s end . . .
as the setting sun colors the clouds and waters below . . .
or even creepy-crawlers
(like this caterpillar waiting to turn into a black swallowtail butterfly).