With Love and Testing

On the subway going home this week, there was a man seated on the row ahead of me. He was dressed in a black tux, bowler hat, pink silk tie with a pink corsage of roses and baby breath. Every hair on his face and head was perfectly styled. What was missing from the ensemble was an ivory cane. A freshly minted husband-to-be if there ever was one. I knew it because he got off at the courthouse station, with his face like flint, facing his execution. I could only imagine what his bride would look like. Was she just as resigned? What a pitiful way to start a married life, gritting your teeth and hoping for the best, even though in your heart you know it will only go downhill from here. Jacqueline Osborn

We all know marriage has fallen on hard times, and yet everybody wants to get married. Go figure. Last time I looked the divorce rate was on par with the marriage rate, maybe even surpassed it. Nobody can get along anymore. Expectations are too high, thanks Hollywood and social media, and nobody wants to work that much in a relationship. And yet these same people are willing to put themselves through endless hours of agony learning a sport, or getting an MBA, or changing careers in mid-stream. Somehow working at being a better husband or wife seems mundane. I think the real reason it’s because it’s really impossible. Becoming a doctor is easier. We want results. Now. But end up disappointed and convinced it’s not worth the investment.

I like the attitude about marriage that a few of the greats had.

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave. – Martin Luther

When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife. – Prince Philip

They say marriages are made in heaven. But so is thunder and lightning. – Clint Eastwood

Calvin says, “Thank goodness beagles don’t marry. They just frolic and mate at will.”

beagle

Spicy Tea

I lunched with an old friend of many years. She looked broody, not her typical self. So I asked her what was troubling her, and the floodgates opened.

“Elliott and I have stuck out 40 years of incompatibilities. A recent vacation is a good example. He wanted a quiet hotel room. I enjoy hearing people’s voices on the street, the dumpsters being filled with crashing bottles, it anchors me to a place,” she said demolishing her cucumber sandwich.

“He likes hiking. My hike is riding the escalator at Nordstrom’s. He’s anxious if a plan doesn’t go well, although he hates planning anything. I plan things out weeks in advance so it’s clearly my fault,” she continued with a furrowed brow.

I wanted to say something but she wasn’t listening.

“He likes hot, spicy food. You’ve seen that. He douses everything with hot sauce. I like a steak and fries. He’s a clutter bug, books and magazines everywhere, and throws nothing away. I dream of minimalist spaces, preferably in a condo with zero maintenance,” she said knocking back her shot of espresso.

“He watches his favorite movies over and over. Once I’ve seen a movie I’m over it,” she said. “Just the other night he watched Bottle Shock for the trillionth time and I sat there trying to find something I hadn’t caught before. You know what?”

Finally. “What?” I said.

“I watched for timing of the scenes like I was some professional director or something,” she said.

She went on. “He must do the driving. Months go by and I haven’t been behind the wheel, but I’ve become an expert passenger. He drives too fast. He hates traffic and being stuck behind a car. He maneuvers and strategizes so he can be out ahead. For me driving relaxes me. I daydream to my destination. Driving for him is mastering the road and eliminating the competition.” minimal

“Oh, also going for a walk is impossible. He walks too fast and I lag behind like women do from other cultures. It’s so frustrating. I hate it,” she said raising her voice. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. She didn’t notice.

“I love flying. He refuses to step on a plane because he’s sure he’d battle with security and they’d throw him out of the airport. We can’t take a trip anywhere. Talk about selfish.”

She finally stopped and took a breath.

Did she want a response or was this a vent session?

The waitress approached our table. She looked like Lucille Ball with 50’s glasses. “Dessert?”

My friend said almost in a growl, “Is it soaking in whiskey?”

Calvin says, “Holy cow. She’s one angry dude.” beagle

 

 

Not Yet, Maybe Later

One of my favorite authors is coming out with a new book.

It’s called Scary Close by Donald Miller.

Apparently it’s about intimacy.

I find that comical. Don is single, or was. He recently married at 42. And his book is about what it’s like to live with another person after so many years of being a self-proclaimed hermit. Well, writers are hermits. That’s part of their DNA. You can’t write while you’re carrying on at a party, or watching a movie, or attending church. You can’t write while having a conversation with your spouse either.

I’ll bet his wife is an extrovert dragging him into public places with friends and family and ruining his writing time.

I think he should have waited at least 7 years to write it. He’s still in the honeymoon stage of married life. Nothing he says now is going to be true later. But it’s too late. He didn’t consult me.
Jacqueline Osborn

I loved his Author’s Note:

“Somebody told me we will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us.

“When I heard that I knew it was true. I’d spent a good bit of my life as an actor, getting people to clap—but the applause only made me want more applause. I didn’t act in a theater or anything. I’m talking about real life.

“The thought of not acting pressed on me like a terror. Can we really trust people to love us just as we are?

“Nobody steps onto a stage and gets a standing ovation for being human. You have to sing or dance or something.

“I think that’s the difference between being loved and making people clap, though. Love can’t be earned, it can only be given. And it can only be exchanged by people who are completely true with each other. I shouldn’t pretend to be an expert, though. I didn’t get married until I was forty-two, which is how long it took me to risk being myself with another human being.

“Here are two things I found taking the long road, though:

“Applause is a quick fix. And love is an acquired taste.”

Calvin says, “Oh no, why can’t he leave well enough alone. Intimacy is a well loved bone by the fire.”beagle

 

 

Online Dating Is Not For Wimps

Getting married used to be a simple thing. You lived in a village all your life, and when it was time to find a spouse, Aunt Sadie, the village matchmaker was only too happy to oblige.

The village is now the world.  Aunt Sadie is an online dating site that fulfills a similar role, but in a less quirky way. If you don’t like the looks and sounds of someone, you move on. After all he was only a photograph with a few descriptive lies, not a real person. I suppose the same happened back in the village, but in that instance you ran the risk of bumping into him the next day at the county hog races.

Finding a mate is not for the fainthearted. It takes finesse, timing, the right circumstances to come together, and plain sheer grit.

I asked a friend of mine, a perennial bachelor who continues to comb the online dating scene for hopefuls, what he does when he is hurt and in pain over not finding the right person. “I tell myself God loves me much more than all these losers,” he said with a laugh.

“Even at your age when you behave like a dejected 17-year old?” I asked.

“We’re all 17-years old inside. And it doesn’t get any better as you get older either,” he said.

And he ought to know. He’s been looking for a wife forever.

The truth is I know many couples who met online and they have happy marriages.

It’s the ones who are still hopeful that I feel for.

Sometimes the search is aggravating and unbearable.

Calvin says, “Do what I do. I dig up an old bone to re-acquaint myself with it. Then bury it under your pillow so I have something to keep me entertained while you search on your iPad.”

A Vicious Review

My friend, Sabrina and I were nibbling on a canoli. We had finished a pasta lunch at a new Italian restaurant that opened up along the pier. It prided itself on authentic Italian fare. I always judge the authenticity of an Italian restaurant by its canolis. This one wasn’t getting past me. It was soggy.

I put my fork down and took a sip of my espresso.

“Not a four star by any means,” I said.

Sabrina had smeared her side of the plate with the cream cheese filling. She wasn’t a dessert gal.

“Paul and I are communicating better these days,” she said. “I suggested yesterday that he should pursue me more.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Do you know what he said?”

“No, tell me.”

He said, “‘Why?'”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“So I said I thought it would be good for our marriage.”

“How did he respond?” I said.

“‘You don’t like my ideas,'” he said.

“Oh dear,” I said. I had learned not to be wordy when Sabrina was telling one of her stories.

“Then I said to him, ‘What does pursuing me have to do with ideas?'”

“‘Everything,'” he said. “‘I don’t plan. You want to know where we’re going. I like to try new restaurants, you need to know what the food will be like. I like new things, you stick to what you know.'”

“I hate to admit it, but I had to agree with him. I am an idea-buster,” she said to me.

“That’s not true. We’re here, aren’t we, trying out a new restaurant,” I said.

“That’s different,” she said.

“How?” I asked finishing my espresso.

“It was my idea, not yours, so I didn’t bust it,” she said.

“So it’s really a control issue,” I said. As soon I said it, I regretted it.

“What are you saying, that I like to be in charge?”

“Er…yes?” I said.

“Well some friend you are.” She threw her napkin on the table, stood up and stormed out.

I was left paying for lunch and the soggy canoli.

I went home and wrote a review on Yelp. I gave the restaurant minus zero stars. For busting up a friendship.

Calvin says, “What a mess. Never try a new restaurant with an old date.”

Very Rare

“I told Paul last night, ‘I can’t sleep your sleep, think your thoughts, or eat your food. Marriage is such an impossible state of being. It demands a oneness when all you really want is to be left alone.'” Sabrina said this as she sipped her champagne cocktail. We were having brunch outdoors in her favorite restaurant. She had called me and said she needed to talk. Sabrina rarely did anything unless there was food involved. The last time we met, it was for dinner in a new bistro. She needed an excuse to eat and talk.

“So how did Paul respond?” I asked. I poured some Pelegrino into my glass.

“Not well. He said I sounded like I wanted out of the marriage, which wasn’t what I meant at all, I was just voicing an insight I had, and needed to get it out in the open,” she said.

“And you explained that to Paul,” I said.

“Oh yes, but it left him with the doubt. Now he’s brooding over the whole incident.”

The waiter arrived with our salads and french fries and placed them in front of us. “Will that be all?” he said.

“Bring me a steak. Very rare,” she said. Then she turned to me and said, “I need to chew on some flesh. I feel angry. Every time I try to be real with Paul it backfires. I end up feeling guilty. Then I wish I never opened my mouth.”

I pierced a cherry tomato and it squirted onto my blouse. I rubbed the stain with my napkin. That smudged it even more and turned it pink. At least it matched my lipstick and earrings.

“Give Paul a few days. He’ll come out of it,” I said.

“Maybe. I swear, I’m not going to expose what I’m thinking to him any more. He clearly can’t handle it,” Sabrina said.

The waiter arrived with a very large steak on a white plate and put it down in front of her. “Will that be all?” he said.

Sabrina waved him off and dug in. Blood oozed out in all directions. She cut the entire thing into bite size pieces and then put her knife and fork down.

“That was better than therapy,” she said finishing off her drink. “Let’s get out of here.”

Calvin says, “What a tragedy! At least ask for a doggie bag!”

Come Hither

A father and college-age son. At a café.

Dad: Take some literature classes when you get to college. Stories will save your life.

Son: How so?

Dad: You’ll learn how to communicate and you’ll avoid counseling when you’re married.

Son: What if I only want to take science classes?

Dad: You’ll have a tough time as a husband and father. Your children don’t come out of the chute speaking geek. And your wife will need to learn this language in order to know who you are, and she’ll be too busy with the kids, do you want to put her through that?

Son: Geez, I had no idea being an engineer would be so hazardous to my future.

Dad: Not if you mix it up with some Shakespeare, some poetry, and some good fiction.

Son: That will delay my getting out of school.

Dad: I’ll pay for the delay. It’s my investment in your marriage and my grand kids.

Son: Thy should’st not worry, father. I resolve to mark your words.

Calvin says, “That explains why I only speak hound. I wish my dad had recommended Peanuts and Winnie the Poo to me.”