February 13, 2019

the strawberries of optimism

Snakes and snails and sugar and spice.  What are marriages made of?

Now that the socio-political frenzy has died down and locusts have not devoured America, now that people scratch their heads and realize that they haven't heard on Fox News of a single instance of a dog marrying a cat or a pro-polygamy protest, now that our children aren't growing up to be degenerates in disproportionate numbers ... can we set aside the angst and pull out a magnifying glass, and take a look, and admit that same-sex marriages are no different than "traditional" marriages?

Because they're plenty traditional.

I had a series of conversations with a co-worker several years ago, when P.J. and I got engaged and then married.  Joe's a nice man, gregarious, approachable, and mentally stuck in the amnestically pleasant aspects of circa 1953.

"So let me ask you this," he once began.  "How ... how do you two decide which one does the dishes?"

I never got angry during these conversations.  He wasn't asking out of malice; he really was earnestly trying to get his mind wrapped around a foreign concept and all that it entailed.

"Well, Joe, I guess it's whoever wanders through the kitchen and sees that they need to be done," I replied, and shrugged and smiled.

One day we were discussing our cars.  "Yeah," I said, "my wife prefers the van because it's way more comfortable than the RAV4."

Joe jumped on this new piece of information.  "Oh, so she's the wife?"

Poor Joe.

Joe, my dear, walk into any household containing a heterosexual couple in, say, their thirties, and you'll see men changing diapers and wearing baby carriers and women going to important meetings at work, carrying briefcases.  You'll see both of them doing dishes.

And you'll see the things that don't change, that will never change.  The things that make a traditional marriage traditional.

P.J. leaves ramekins with one-quarter of an ounce of some sauce or substance in the refrigerator, uncovered, for so long that the bottom either grows green fuzz or looks like the floor of Death Valley, cracked and dried.  My green fuzz grows on what P.J. has come to call the Strawberries of Optimism.  Every spring and summer, I buy strawberries at the grocery store in a fit of good intention, and they sit untouched for weeks in the refrigerator until they turn interesting colors.  I throw them away and start again by buying more strawberries the next week.  I do occasionally cut them up and eat them, but if anyone reading this is a betting man, your money should be on the fuzz.

One of us believes the expiration dates on bottles of salad dressing mean something.

P.J. wants light and fresh air in the house, and goes around opening windows and curtains and shades.  I grumble about energy efficiency and go around closing and shutting things.

I am froth-at-the-mouth vehement about punctuality.  P.J. is dig-in-heels resentful of time constraints.

I drive the speed limit and pass up chances to turn and live in fear of a speeding ticket.  P.J. appears to believe she's on a race track when she drives.

There are little Post-It notes to each other all over the house.

Sometimes I turn off the heater in the bathroom because I need to use the hair dryer and you can't use both in the same plug without tripping a breaker, and then I finish drying my hair and forget to turn the heater back on.  Our bathroom has a physics-defying supernatural heatsink installed somewhere under the floor and without a space heater hard at work, nine months out of the year, it gets icy cold in that room.  P.J. is incredibly kind when she reminds me that I forgot to flip the switch on the heater that morning and she was forced to sit on a toilet seat coated in frost.

Sometimes I launder our bath towels and bring her one while it's still warm, with a childlike desire to please her.

Each of us believes that she is the only person who ever ends up changing the god-damned toilet paper roll.

Each of us believes that she is the only person who empties out the drain trap in the sink and runs the garbage disposal.

Each of us thinks the other is the best of all possible people to have beside her on her journey.  Each of us looks at the other with love and her heart beats a little faster.  Each of us thinks Valentine's Day is a disgusting, commercialized bunch of river-water hog shit, without admitting that her thoughts toward the other are as sweet as lugduname and incapable of being reduced to words in a card.  The feelings would inflate a heart-shaped balloon without the need for helium.  The love is richer than the finest of chocolates.  The need for the other is desperate, for who could live without her?

The things that make a traditional marriage traditional.


  1. Lille,
    So, let me get this straight (ha, ha!)... like, what you're trying to say is that y'all are ... married ... and that you love each other? And y'all have a traditional marriage ~ because what is the institution of marriage if not based on people acting traditionally like people? BTW, David and I got married on Valentine's Day 22 years ago tomorrow! At the courthouse. It was kind of spur of the moment. Yay, we eloped. My heart is still racing! I think my actual thought at the time was that at least he would never forget when our anniversary was -- so it was more practical than anything, I suppose! And BTW, I still haven't gotten a replacement wedding ring because I think he's forgotten. So, see? I knew what I was doing getting married on the day that gives him plenty of reminders on TV, the radio, etc. that our anniversary is coming up. I've also been told that it is bad luck to marry on V-Day! However, David and I have been running against the stream of such vapid silliness for as long as I can remember. What I guess I'm trying to say is that we're married (for better or worse) and that we love each other and we're traditional, I guess because we're people; but we also buck the system ~ every damn chance we get. Happy Galentine's Day to you and Pam, today, and Happy Commercialized, River-water Hog Shit Day tomorrow! Mona

  2. Absolutely! I always make Ken hot chocolate on weekend mornings and he always drops me off at the door of any store when it's cold out while he parks the car. That's what being married is all about! This is also such beautiful, lovely writing:-)

    1. Thank you, Suzanne - from you, a compliment indeed!

    2. Also ... what kind of hot chocolate?

  3. Hehe, joke's on you, you both still have to love each other despite it being Valentine's day :D

  4. In my entire life, I've only seen for myself two marriages that would give me pause to my determination to remain single. P.J. and you are one of those. Happy Half Price Chocolate Day!! XD

    1. *sniffle* Damn you. You made me get choked up.

    2. Agreed - Half Price Chocolate Day is serious stuff. Told you years ago, the love between the two of you shines brightly. I smile when I think of the way the two of you talk to each other.

  5. I just love this. You guys are me and Scott.