O my God, my purse collection in the closet bombed Hubby again. Enough, he said. No more sales, he said. He’s right, Lord. With Your help, I’ll design my heavenly purse, full of charity, that no thief can steal. It will never wear out. And OMG, thank You that it will go with everything!
Soon after our wedding, Hubby and I discovered crucial differences. A key divisive subject: broccoli.
I had grown up eating broccoli, pretending to munch trees like a powerful giant. I liked the taste. Broccoli was good for me and filling — important in a household with four siblings. What wasn’t to like about broccoli?
In Hubby’s family, no one competed for food or imagined eating trees. His father and brother also loathed broccoli. Drowning it in cheese sauce, his mother insisted they eat it occasionally.
However, my new husband formulated his own broccoli policy, namely, nada.
I adopted his mother’s.
The debate continued for decades.
If my mother-in-law had cooked the President’s meals, he would have tried three bites or been sent to his room.
Like Steve, President Bush probably believed his DNA rejected broccoli. My husband even insisted God never created broccoli for human consumption.
I’d never encountered Scriptures regarding broccoli, with or without cheese sauce. However, several commanded him to give thanks for what was set before him.
Hubby replied with Scriptures that discouraged quarrels.
One day as I typed, deep in Novel Land, Hubby leaped from the hallway, hands thrown open like a spotlight performer. “Ta-da!”
He announced, “I’ve found scientific evidence that taste depends on a person’s DNA—”
“You interrupted my best writing time to diss broccoli?”
“Look.” He offered his laptop.
“I don’t have to look. That writer’s scientific expertise probably consists of blowing up science fair projects with his kid.”
Finally, I read the article. It stated a person’s DNA profoundly affects taste. The author, a bona fide scientist, didn’t sell snake oil or exploding science projects on the side.
I. Was. Wrong.
Daily I become more aware of Steve’s forbearance and generosity … because he reminds me.
Still, the more I pondered his broccoli triumph, the more I questioned: Should our DNA enslave us?
I take bitter-tasting medicines because they’re good for me. Hubby wants his patients to do the same.
Yet he can refuse broccoli, despite its nutritional value, because it doesn’t taste good?
The great broccoli debate rages on ….
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What food inspires debate at your house?
Years ago, when the tall boy in my high school biology class called, I didn’t understand him at all.
Flattered, I small-talked for five minutes before realizing he hadn’t said a word. I left strategic moments for comments.
I babbled about our class’s fruit-fly genetic experiments. My subjects’ Great Escape. The school cafeteria’s subsequent fumigation —
Maybe he wasn’t the scientific type, after all.
Maybe he’d decided I wasn’t his type.
However, he soon called again.
This time, my monologue focused on literature. My English teacher didn’t understand my paper’s crucial insights touting fried chicken’s symbolism throughout Southern literature.
I continued my learned discourse —
Did this sadist call girls just to hang up on them?
Nevertheless, I had seen a glimmer of this shy guy’s meaning: I like you. Do you like me?
He refused it.
This time, he was the one attempting to break lo-o-ong silences. And translate touch-me-and-you-die assurances that I was fine. Fine.
Hubby seemed aghast that he’d married an alien whose language he’d never understand.
Nevertheless, we’d vowed to love each other.
Against impossible odds, we determined to learn each other’s language.
Hubby now understood that I, like all women, said “fine” only when I meant the opposite. We then grappled with another mysterious word: we. Only two letters, it appeared cozy — until used thusly:
He: Sure, we can feed 237 runners.
She: Yes, we will dig the new church basement.
Eventually, Hubby and I understood that if we valued our lives, we would use accurate pronouns.
Throughout the year, unequal estimates of garage wall/car distances and checkbook balances also challenged our powers of translation. But after three decades of marriage, we finally mastered each other’s languages … until our empty-nest purchase: a tandem bicycle.
Hubby’s “Ma-a-an!” didn’t soften the effects of potholes on my, er, anatomy.
My “Aaaaahhh!” meant little to him, riding in front. Fortunately, the pursuing Dobermans ate only one of my ankles.
The tandem initiated a repeat of Marriage Translation 101.
Hey, everyone needs an occasional refresher course.
If Hubby’s pondering deep theological, medical, or I.U. basketball issues, a visual reminder, such as a cartwheel, must accompany my “Dinner’s ready.”
I assume he’ll automatically finish my half-sentences, e.g., “Last month’s letter from the IRS …”
After 43 years of marriage, he should read my mind, right?
Only a lifetime.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite mistranslation story?
No, our pillows.
I could happily sleep with a dozen, but my spouse considers extras speed bumps in the night. So I content myself with daytime heaps of decorative pillows on our bed.
When Hubby makes the bed, he sometimes forgets the universe will implode with the green pillow in the middle rather than the white.
Fear not. I continue to rescue the cosmos.
I also help him regarding sofa cushions. Our geometric pillow must always be matched with the sage green cushion. Never the brick red.
No one should desecrate them with actual use. Both Hubby and grand-dog must understand that the aged, ameba-shaped cushion, stashed under a throw, is reserved for naps. And naps are permitted only when all 30 other pillows can be stacked on a spare sofa.
They are called toss cushions. But no throwing them on the floor!
“OC, aren’t you?” chorus a hundred voices.
The fact I hear voices doesn’t negate my point, which is … uh, yes, pillow power.
We must respect a product that upsets an entire continent. Australian health alerts demand that pillows be replaced every two years or frozen to kill dust mites. One manufacturer even conducted a free pillow exchange.
Pillows can exert power in positive ways, e.g., the OSTRICHPILLOW®. The owner inserts his head into a soft, closed tube, resting the padded “microenvironment” on his desk. Supposedly, a 20-minute nap using the OSTRICHPILLOW® increases work productivity by 37 percent.
Any nap might accomplish this. Still, who am I to deny the combined force of capitalism and catnap?
However, pillows can cause complications. Sleepers lose hours of rest, constantly awakening to refresh their pillows. For only $100, a sufferer can buy one filled with cool gel that reshapes itself. He should, however, take care not to drop it on his toe, as it weighs 14 pounds.
Or, for only $400, one can purchase an intelliPillow. Why so expensive? Because its name starts with a lowercase letter, with a capital in the middle. It also uses a complex air compressor for automatic adjustment.
Ultimate power, however, is evidenced in the classic pillow fight. Taking this ancient concept to a higher level, devotees use pillows shaped like scimitars, battle axes, and hand grenades.
Airline cushions sufficed, however, for passengers on one economy flight who took out lack-of-leg-room frustrations in a mass pillow fight. Hostilities resolved, they celebrated one flight attendant’s deadeye aim with loud applause.
Perhaps if world leaders engaged in a day-long pillow fight, peace might be a step closer.
A powerful idea.
As long as they don’t throw my sofa cushions.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you picky about your pillows?
I feel for pregnant moms whose steps slow as the months pass. Although decades have gone by, I remember well those exhausting days. I doubt these lovely young women believe their husbands’ reassurance any more than I believed mine, who told me I was beautiful.
What insanity had blinded his usual astute vision? Seven months pregnant with our first child, I felt like a walking ottoman.
“So if I just walk backwards, nobody will know?”
“It means you’ll lose weight fast after the baby’s born.” A family practice resident at the local hospital, he knew how to handle cranky women in their last trimester.
I kissed him goodbye. Would I splurge and take the bus to my part-time job or ride my bike through our quiet neighborhood? I grinned. Each time I rode up on my three-speed, Mr. Plunkett, an older man in my office, threw his window open in horror.
Mrs. Phillips!” he shouted. “Come in and put your feet up!”
He always brought me a glass of water. Where was my mother? Did my husband really find this acceptable?
But graying skies made a ride risky. Mr. P. might have a coronary if I rode up amid thunder and lightning. So I decided to take the bus.
I donned my pink maternity outfit and slipped into comfortable shoes I’d bought when I no longer could see my feet. I arrived at the bus stop five minutes early, drifting into daydreams of nursery rhymes and rock-a-bye songs.
I stared at my stomach, confused. Sure, I was going to have a baby, but—? I cast a cautious glance behind.
Two linemen, perched atop an electrical pole, hooted at me. And yes, unless I had lost feminine instincts along with my waistline, ear-to-ear lecherous smiles gleamed on their faces.
Blank disbelief washed over me—then a joyous rush of wickedness. But Niceness pointed a finger at me, and I wavered. Should I? Or shouldn’t I?
I turned around and waved sweetly at my admirers, who nearly fell to the ground.
I waddled up the steps onto the bus. As it rolled away, I watched them hugging the pole, trying in vain to hide scarlet, guilty faces.
“Whoa, baby,” I whispered to my stomach. “You’re already knocking ’em off their feet.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite prego story?
We should have detected this temperature difference from the start. However, the stars in our eyes prevented us from noticing icicles hanging from his chin and people around me turning tan.
I now believe our wedding vows should have limited the number of blankets on our bed to 37. Hubby wishes we had included something about nailing windows shut.
My skeletal new husband’s body temperature never rose above 50 degrees. I determinedly fed him Crisco®, so he finally gained a few pounds. Still, he occasionally builds bonfires in his office to stave off frostbite.
During cold weather, he pushes the thermostat up to the ionosphere. I want to rescue planet earth — and our heating bill — by keeping it at 60. He says I’m cruel. I say, I’m green. And as Kermit the Frog once sang, it’s not easy being green.
His answer: “It’s not easy living with you, either.”
To accomplish temperature compatibility at night, all he has to do is steal the covers, and all I have to do is let him. Problem solved? No way. Hubby slumbers quietly, and even when cold, doesn’t grab my blanket. Is he trying to take me out with heat stroke?
We’re not the only spouses who suffer from irreconcilable temperature differences. One wife told her man if he didn’t like their family room’s cool ambience, he could go someplace hotter. (I don’t think she meant the Bahamas.)
Another couple solved their incompatibility by buying a new car with fancy dual heat-and-air-conditioning controls. She set hers at ten degrees less than his. They spent thousands of dollars to end the temperature tug-of-war. And lived happily ever after, right?
Nope. The fancy new hot-butt button is not dual-control.
Then there’s the frozen wife who bowed to her hot-natured husband’s needs, but rented out her living room as an ice rink. …
And some say married life is boring.
Perhaps the excitement presents one more aspect of imaginative design. God, who invented male and female wiring, apparently wants to keep the sparks alive in today’s marriages. And maybe God wants us to work things out. …
Hubby and I have to admit that sitting on opposite seats of the same seesaw keeps us communicating. Neither has jumped off the temperature teeter-totter during our almost 43 years of togetherness. And we hope our world is a bit cozier for it.
That kind of global warming? Couldn’t we all stand a little more?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Who yanks on which side of the temperature tug-of-war at your house?
O my God, thank You for making Hubby and I unique individuals. But now that it’s October, he wants to turn on the heat. I still want to throw open windows. OMG, for us, marriage gives a whole new meaning to “hot woman” and “cool guy.”
When our children were small, I maintained a camping list as complicated as a theological treatise. It grew so wise and wonderful that our daughter, now taking her family camping, borrowed it. “I don’t want to forget anything.”
Ha! Campers always forget something.
I balked at handing over my ragged, penciled/inked, 25-year-old list. Part of me celebrated. No more worries about taking Scooby-Doo Band-Aids, the only kind our five-year-old would accept. But I sniffled anew over our empty nest.
I sobbed, “My camping list. …”
Hubby’s face stiffened in his familiar you’re-insane-but-I-won’t-say-it expression. He didn’t protest, “But you hate lists.” Or even, “You didn’t lose it 25 years ago?”
Still, he couldn’t comprehend how listings of bug spray and Imodium® evoked tender memories a mother could cherish.
He did offer to make a new list.
Eyes shining, he plopped beside me. “What do we want on our camping list?”
“We”? I had sort of wanted to do … anything else.
He read me. “If we collaborate, we won’t forget anything.”
We discovered — gasp! — that we define “essentials” differently.
He cannot survive without disgustingly healthy oatmeal raisin cookies. I refuse to leave the driveway without my beloved Pecan Sandies Shortbread cookies. We do agree that a hike without trail mix is like a cruise — not that we’ve taken one — without a buffet.
Hubby stood firm on one point: no melty, messy chocolate chips.
I stood firm. Trail mix without chocolate is not trail mix.
Believe it or not, we completed the list before Christmas.
In hopes of rescuing your future campouts, I include tips on camping items that should never be forgotten:
- Rain tarp. Leave behind extra clothing (who cares what you look/smell like?). But don’t forget a rain tarp, for which — at 2 a.m., with water drip-drip-dripping on your forehead and your children/grandchildren floating away — you would pay a million dollars.
- Buckets. Bailing with your spouse’s shoe will make a tenuous situation worse.
- Coffee. Overlook a drinker’s joe or means to brew it, and she may tie you to a tree and invite bears to dinner.
- Entrance rug. Leave it behind just once and you’ll sleep with a stampede of muddy footprints across your pillow.
- Pillows. You may have included enough bags of marshmallows to substitute, but you’ll share your sleeping bag with a tribe of hungry raccoons.
- Swimsuit. Bring both pieces.
- Blanky. Do not forget your child’s blanky, eyeless teddy bear or one-armed Barbie® Doll. If you do, for the sake of the entire campground, be prepared to break into a small-town Walmart at 3 a.m. to find a substitute.
- Soap. Finally, pack separate soaps. Otherwise, you might find yourself outside the men’s showers, yelling at your dearly beloved to remember your needs, then explaining them to the park ranger.
The good news: even if we’ve forgotten camping list essentials, we’re still married.
But with a new, untried list … with no Scooby-Doo Band-Aids … will we survive the next camping trip?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What item would make the top of your list? (Hint: Room service does not count.)