Matrimonial Insanity

bride in a straight jacketThere’s a reason the groom is not to see the bride before she walks down the aisle on the day of their wedding. And it isn’t what you’d think. I discovered this truth about two weeks ago when I myself took that storied stroll from the back of the chapel toward my (now) husband.

Lee and I decided a year ago to get married in Vegas. We didn’t want to make a huge fuss, spend a lot of money and find ourselves tangled in the tricky threads typically associated with tying the knot. But mostly, we just thought it sounded like a lot of fun. Which it most certainly was, however, we learned that some matrimonial stress is bound to find you no matter how far you and your betrothed decide to run.

It WILL sniff you out… in the middle of the desert… surrounded by bright flashing lights, eager blackjack dealers, endless cocktails, thumping music, Elvis impersonators and a cacophony of clanging slot machines. And it isn’t a matter of IF prenuptial stress finds you — it is merely a matter of WHEN.

Weddings ARE stressful. No matter how simple you may try to make them. The concern over family members’ opinions, ideas and traditions will weigh on you (if you invited them). Intrusive thoughts of forgetting or “misplacing” the rings, the marriage license or the cash for the minister’s fee will pop up at the most inopportune times. Fear of the right music NOT being played on cue, having a bad hair day or waking up to discover a rogue pimple on your face the morning of The Big Day will haunt your dreams.

Thus it is not uncommon for a blushing bride to scare the $#!* out of an anticipatory-if-not-already-anxious groom from time to time before the impending nuptials can occur. Which leads me to my initial observation: There is a reason the groom is not to see the bride before she walks down the aisle on the day of their wedding.

What, you may ask, is the “actual and unexpected” reason behind this time-honored wedding tradition? People THINK it is bad luck. But the real reason the groom should not see the bride before she walks down the aisle… is to prevent him from RUNNING.

Let me clarify. This man—already slightly nervous himself in the face of this major life change he is about to make—would head straight for the hills were he to see his beautiful beloved for the actual train wreck she has become by the time the day arrives. She has worried and fretted and planned for THIS moment since the first time someone read Cinderella to her as a child.

And now it is here. And there is NO WAY—in Las Vegas or elsewhere—that she is gonna gamble on the fact that her Prince Charming just might hop on the back of his trusty steed, riding off into the sunset because of a teensy, weensy case of  momentary insanity.

Advertisements

Silence Isn’t Golden… It’s Diamond

diamond ringsI’m not a very quiet person. I realize this may come as a shock to some, but I like to talk. Oh, who am I kidding? I LOVE to talk. I REALLY LOVE to talk. I can talk all day, everyday about anything, everything and nothing. I am basically a good person, but my one downfall (if I had to admit to one)… the ONE thing that has consistently gotten me into trouble is my talking. I opened my mouth in pre-school to talk about who knows what—probably Play-Doh or Barbies or Captain Kangaroo—and I haven’t closed it since.

Which is why it was not surprising when yesterday evening during dinner I got the sneeking suspicion that Lee (being as polite as one could be after a long, hard day at work) wanted me to shut the hell up. He was eating peacefully and there I was yammering on about something I’d read on Facebook, various job leads, the bank account, bridal gown shopping and a web design class I thought I should register for.

He didn’t SAY anything, mind you. But I could tell. I’d seen the body language before in my father, my mother, my sister, my co-workers, the teller at the bank, the clerk at the grocery store, the optician fitting me for new glasses and the poor, helplessly-captive phlebotomist drawing my blood at the Red Cross. Once that needle’s in… she’s committed baby! I’ve got an audience for at LEAST a pint — which CAN be awhile if you fail to squeeze the squishy ball hard enough.

I don’t know how else to describe it. But it’s something that can be read in the resigned slump of the shoulders, the “please shut up” roll of the eyes and naturally the “oh $#@! here we go again” nodding-while-avoiding-direct-eye-contact thingy. I guess it’s just something one must experience in order to recognize. But… I digress.

Anyhoo, immediately upon detection of this behavior from Lee that he did, indeed, want me to shut the hell up… I sighed a heavy sigh, pet the cat and said to Lee: “Well, I should probably just be quiet now and let you enjoy your meal.” An observation that he, of course, did NOT deny. But he DID un-slump his shoulders, make eye contact with me and smile. He finished chewing what was in his mouth, used and re-folded his napkin, then turned toward me to speak.

“I just find it interesting that you’ve been talking to me this whole time while we are eating and yet…” He paused for a drink of his Diet Dr. Pepper. “… you sat silently on the couch for over an hour when I got home this afternoon, glued to those ring catalogs that I gave you to look at.”

For a rare moment I was speechless. My gaze immediately darted from him toward the living room, landing on the carefully-stacked diamond catalogs sitting innocently on the edge of the coffee table. He had brought them home only hours earlier for me to “take my time” perusing in search of a potential wedding band and light blue sticky notes were already jutting out from the edges of several pages. I looked back at him sheepishly and silently… my face turning fifty shades of pink… my diamond lust having been found out and now grossly on display beneath the revealing yellow light of the dining room.

“I guess I know how to shut you up then.” He said, half-teasing and partially serious. Apparently… for me… silence never was golden. But it just might be diamond.

What’s In a Year?

holding handsKisses were exchanged as the clock struck midnight and one by one the couples announced their plans for 2013.

“We’re gonna pop out a kid, honey!” Said the couple excitedly expecting their first child in the spring.

“We did a pretty cool thing in 2012 and it looks like we’ve got an exciting year ahead of us.” Proclaimed the pair of newly-minted parents whose baby girl arrived the previous fall.

“Here’s to the first year in our new home.” One of the two newlyweds seated on the couch replied to the other.

Looking out across the snowy landscape in the wee hours of a brand new year, we couldn’t help but consider what 2013 might hold for us. “2013.” Lee said as he navigated the snow-covered roads back to our house at the conclusion of the party. “Twenty years ago…” We began to say at the exact same time. Twenty years ago we graduated high school together before heading off in two very different directions. “It’s just so hard to believe.” One of us exclaimed… preaching to the proverbial choir.

We will get married this summer. That much we know. The planning has begun and as a picture of our wedding day emerges, our excitement grows for the anticipated date. But beyond that, it is unclear where we will go and what life will look like. We have a home and friends and belong to a community. He has a real job and I am hoping that the new year brings permanent employment (beyond contract work) my way. But for the most part, we are settled. Much of our picture is already colored in.

“So I suppose they’ll have their own little club once they all have babies.” I announced over lunch today while referring to the growing enclave of which we are not a part. “There’s no one else like us, you know.” I muttered with a mouthful of food while considering what the words “like us” meant exactly. I decided I was referring to couples in their late 30’s who don’t have children and aren’t sure they want any. I suppose it is as simple as that.

“I like us.” Lee stated very matter-of-factly as he shrugged his shoulders in a perfunctory but decided sort of way.

And I was reminded—all over again—why I love him as much as I do.

“I like us, too.” I said and reached for another slice of pizza.

All I Ever Really Needed to Know (About Sharing My Life With Another Person) I Learned in Kindergarten

After a lengthy discussion about where the couch, recliners, end tables and lamps would go I paused and asked him a question. “We’ve each been on our own for so long now, do you think it will be hard to adapt to sharing our ‘space’ with one another?”

“I hope not.” He cautiously replied. “I hope that I’m an easy person to live with. Then again, no one’s been around to tell me otherwise. I might be a total jerk.”

I laughed, as I knew that he was too good of a person to be a jerk to live with. I’m certain we’ll annoy one another with our unique habits and differing needs for personal space… but that’s all part of learning how to go through life with another person. The topic then led me remember that famous writing by author Robert Fulghum called All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Because it’s really all the exact same stuff packed into a different framework.

The following is an excerpt from his writing:

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

My personal Top Ten List of the points, however that REALLY stand out:

  1. Share (this MIGHT be the hardest one of all)
  2. Play fair (or fight fair I suppose also applies)
  3. Don’t hit people (DUH)
  4. Say you’re sorry (even if you’re not sure who’s wrong)
  5. Flush (and put the seat down, please)
  6. Live a balanced life (in my opinion… “Balanced” means play ALWAYS outweighs work)
  7. Take lots of naps (so you don’t kill each other)
  8. Watch for traffic (or trouble)
  9. Hold hands (no matter who is looking)
  10. Stick together (no matter what)

My Not-So Feminist Side

Every woman wants to believe that she can and WILL take care of herself when the need arises. It is a notion of great value that my mother taught my sister and me and I have tried to impart the same wisdom to my nieces and younger female friends when applicable.

But let me be honest here. There is a part of me (and not a microscopic part either) that is MORE than happy to let a man do certain things for me.

Take cars for example. I don’t know what’s going on there. AT ALL. About the ONLY things I know how to do are pop open the trunk for groceries, prop up the hood so that someone else can poke around beneath it to figure out what’s wrong with it… and fill my own washer fluid. And the only reason I know how to take care of the washer fluid is because I go through about a gallon a week tailgating other drivers like I do.

Yesterday I experienced one of those “I-really-need-a-man-to-do-this-for-me-moments” when I had to put air in a couple of my tires that were low. It was my lunch hour… I was wearing heels… It was 18 degrees outside… In blizzard conditions… Snowing like a sonofabitch. Oh and I’d somehow managed to leave my Carhartts and ski mask at home.

Standing ankle-deep in frozen, muddy, gas station slush, struggling in gale-force winds to fill up my tires I must have looked every bit of a pathetic wretch because out of nowhere a man shows up (appropriately dressed for the harsh weather of course) and gently but firmly takes the hose from me as he says: “Honey, let me do that for you. You don’t need to be doing this. Look at the way you’re dressed.”

And you wanna know what I said?

“OK! Thank you soooo much sir!”

As I crawled back inside the shelter and embrace of my warm car and my cursing of Mother Nature ceased — I smiled to myself thinking just how nice it will be to permanently have a man around in the very near future. One who doesn’t mind braving the elements to fix a flat, change the oil and fill the washer fluid.

Second Chances

The year was 1985. It was the start of a new school year at Mary Irene Day Elementary School in Minerva, OH. And this was no ordinary year. At M.I. Day, the start of the 5th grade not only ushered in a new school year but a whole new brood of students from the tri-county area as well.

This was the year that all of the other kids from the smaller, more rural, K-4 schools joined the “townies” at the larger, local elementary. And let’s face it… Who likes outsiders anyway, right? This concept was particularly difficult for a bunch of bratty, pre-pubescent, middle-schoolers-in-training to deal with in a graceful manner.

But there I was, a little blonde girl who probably thought she was “all that” sporting a sassy new 80s get-up while unpacking my sharp #2 pencils, fresh notebooks and admiring the front of my new Trapper-Keeper. And there he was—reeking of new-kid-ness—a sheepish, chestnut-haired boy with kind brown eyes, turned backwards in his chair and staring right at me.

“Why don’t you take a picture. It will last longer!” I snapped at him in the nastiest pre-teen tone I could muster, trying to make my friends laugh and ease the heat that I felt rapidly spreading toward my face. He quickly ducked his head and turned away. I had obviously hurt his feelings by acting like such a little bitch.

Little did I know that 26 years later that same sheepish boy with the kind brown eyes—now a grown man with an even kinder spirit—would escort me to that same spot, kneel down in front of me and say: “A picture would have been nice, but I want something that lasts forever.”

It wasn’t easy for him to pin-point the exact spot where I’d hurled those hurtful words at him so many years before… but somehow he’d managed to pull it off. You see, our school had recently been torn down and a new one built in it’s place. But with an uncanny sense of direction and the assistance of Google Earth, Bing and Yahoo Maps… he found it. THE very spot where our 5th-grade classroom used to be was now the new playground.

The school as it looked in 1985.

A clever story about his role on the Building Leadership Team at the school where he teaches convinced me to go with him to the playground to do a little “research” for his district. Feeling like a kid again, I teased him about the brat I’d been back then and took a trip down the slide. He was waiting for me at the bottom poised to ask this life-altering question.

After a lot of tears and shouting “Yes, a million times yes!” we couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer amazement of how life works sometimes.

By the time we were in high school we had become great friends. Kindred spirits some might say. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I liked him. He was one of the good ones and we could talk about anything. We shared a taste in music, books, movies and deep conversation. We tried “dating” for awhile but I did not yet understand the importance of dating someone who was also a friend… so we parted as friends.

Off to college and separate adventures that would take us in completely opposite directions… To him, I was “the one that got away” when he read of my wedding announcement 4 years after graduation. And to me, years into a destructive and abusive marriage… he was “the good friend that I desperately wished I hadn’t taken for granted.”

By the time we met again at the age of 34, you could say that our lives—much like that old school building—had, over time, been completely torn down and reconstructed. We were different, and yet somehow exactly the same. And we realized that we’d been given the very rare gift of a second chance.

Since we first laid eyes on one another two years ago—after half our current lifetime had passed by—we have not looked back. Perhaps 26 years ago he saw something in that bratty little blonde, and thankfully he didn’t give up on me right then. Thankfully he stuck around and waited. Waited for something that would last longer than a picture. Something that would ultimately last forever.

Slightly Preoccupied

With the turkey fully digested and the official “decking of the halls” close at hand, I encountered what you might call a slight distraction during this busy holiday time.

Down on one knee, velvet box open in his hand… my best friend popped the question last Friday. It happened so fast that seconds after I cried and shouted “yes, Yes, YES I’ll marry you!” I slipped the ring off my finger, stuffed it back in the box, shoved it into his hand and yelled at him: “OK… Now… DO THAT AGAIN!!”

He of course looked at me like I was completely insane and I’m certain wondered to himself: I don’t think this is the way it is supposed to go down, but whatever. And he indulged me. Yes, there have been times when my sanity MAY have been called into question, but on this occasion… I just wanted to make sure I’d remember the moment forever.

Well… there’s that… and the fact that I knew I’d have to be able to recount the story on command in the coming days and weeks to friends, co-workers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and probably the town crier.

So I hope that you’ll indulge me as well, dear readers, while I think of just the right way to craft this very special story that began 26 years ago… all the way back in the 5th grade. You see, it’s not your garden-variety boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl live happily-ever-after kind of story. It’s more like… Boy meets girl and a lifetime of detours later… Life gives them a second chance.

So I promise that just as soon as I get done returning phone calls, answering texts, Facebook messages and emails… and pull my head out of the clouds… and my eyes away from this lovely, hypnotic, sparkly thing on my left hand… I will find just the right way to tell you the story.

To be continued…