Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ten Years of Marriage

What I’ve learned so far about love is that it requires a lot more shutting the hell up than you’d think. Not being told to—that’s rude and boorish, and deserves nothing but unending solitude—but taking the reins and telling oneself. Because there are times when the last thing a loved one wants to hear is the reasoned, logical male evaluation on why her twin sister quite understandably lusts after him. That’s a shut the hell up moment, even though you (he) are not trying to brag, you’re (he’s) just trying to share. We (men) share clumsily compared to ladies, who really don’t share, they parcel, parcel with keen eyes. Even when a woman is crying her eyes out about all the whatevers in the world, she’s still looking to see who and how the reaction takes. Don’t lie about peripheral vision, ladies! Many innocent men have been thrown against the wall because you thought we were looking at someone else’s (or yours) cleavage when we thought you weren’t looking. No. We know that you are always looking, so when we look for cleavage we do it full frontal, cutting out the awful drama of false positives.

Clear example: I’ve been in a lovely relationship for 16 years. As of October 9, 2009, ten years of it married; I would kick a dragon in the nuts after it’s had a very bad day if I thought doing so would help in any part of my wife’s day. My wife has nothing but sisters. Over 16 years my relationship with the sisters has gone from “Who’s he?’ to “Him again?” to “Ok, it’s him” to “Hey, it’s him!” to “Dead thing in the basement; I need him” to the hellish world I exist in now where I am so comfortably less a man and more a “brother” to them that—and let me just say in case the wife is trolling the internet instead of working as she should be doing, that no, I am not looking—that they think absolutely nothing of bending forward facing me with nothing but zoombas clear to the ground. Do you understand the severity of the issue? Women…wearing clothing…should not bend over in front of men because it releases the clear and present danger of the accidental peep, and the accidental peep always turns into the lingering stare precisely because it’s accidental—you weren’t supposed to see it!

And so you stare. Because it’s not supposed to be there. Boobs. You’re talking to your sister-in-law one second, the next you see boobs. Because her shoelace is untied? Come on! The finest scientific male minds would be unable to reconcile that kind of burp in reality. They’d be like, “The quantum frequency of the universe has been found to be exactly that at which babies cry,” and then Professor Sheila Marple stoops for a pencil and science is like “Yeah!” Professor Marple standing up would look exactly like my wife—who’s a lovely lady approaching 50 who can stay precisely 18 inches off a car’s bumper without the benefit of road rage—adopting that worn expression that says shut up, even though you haven’t said anything, and grow up, even though you haven’t done anything. The shut up part is crucial, because you don’t say “Yeah!” outloud. No. That’s the shut the hell up self-censorship men spend their days honing to perfection. But we still get the shut up-look.

Here’s what happened: sister-in-law (twin sister but my wife looks better)—and before I go on, please know that both women are sufficiently boobed to give priests good dreams—is wearing a loose tee shirt. Sister-in-law is wearing a bra under said tee shirt, but that only makes it more alluring (root word: lure, as in I’m a victim here). Sister-in-law bends over to brush crumbs from a kitchen chair on a bright, sunny day. Major sun-washed boobage appears. Right there. In front of me. All I was doing was raiding her table for grapes! Now there’s cleavage in front of me. Naked, incestuous, sister-in-law cleavage, and not just hanging motionlessly like a lover just going through the motions, but wiggling as she swatted at crumbs as though swatting away all the inhibitions of her long life, every failed relationship, and the comfortable marriage she now found herself in, wiggling with weight and warmth, the two things men are genetically programmed to seek in terms of food and shelter. And it’s not like I suddenly got boner-shame. I didn’t stand there gawking. The whole 3-second ordeal I’m thinking ‘I’m not supposed to see this!’

And she stands up, and I’m left thinking ‘She knows her boobs are there! No way she doesn’t know she’s got boobs. And tee shirts fall away from bodies, especially on women on account of not having static-electricy bodies keeping their clothing relatively stuck to them. So ipso facto domini sangria, she knows she’s flashing me, which means that she wants me.’ Now, I explain this to the wife as if I’m a confused 5 year old who’s just seen a terrible car crash and is trying to come to grips with a suddenly very hurtful and cruel world—which is basically the same as being flashed by one’s sister-in-law (again, clearly not an unattractive woman, as I married her identical twin)—and I ignore the ‘shut the hell up’ voice because, clearly, this is something the wife needs to know in case she ever comes into the kitchen and sees what looks like me staring down her sister’s blouse; and I tell her her sister’s probably got a thing for me—again, clinically. I don’t have the hots for her sister, but I’m not a bad looking gent either. Add the ipsos up and the shrugging conclusion lands in the ballpark of “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” Most would agree that’s something a wife might want to know in passing. Most tend to be wrong, exampling the sorry state of the world, myself included.

If nothing else, though, I sincerely believe that such full disclosure will most certainly absolve me of the few licentious and unnecessarily guilty thoughts I hadn’t quite managed to quell. A court of law would ask, “Did you seek the boobs?” No. “Did you pause to appreciate the boobs?” No. I merely continued to eat the grapes. “And at what pace was that?” Slowly. One does not want to choke. Here’s where shutting the hell up would have come in extremely handy, because women really really don’t want to know what’s on our (men’s) minds. There’s enough to make them prematurely gray as it is. And remember, in my world there are teary-eyed dragons clutching huge scaly testicles, so you’d think the love I have for my wife ought to make me quietly let things go. Again, see: George Bush. So I tell her that it’s happened with her other sisters too. Let’s pause. I have told my wife that I routinely scope the tits of her sisters. This is not what I’ve said, but it’s what I’ve told her. Men think they’re sharing. Women know we’re being cross-examined. My wife has a way of biting down with the left side of her teeth under very flat, dead eyes that leaves the outward impression that she is patient enough to smother you in your sleep at any moment of her choosing. Anybody besides me seeing this facial menace wouldn’t know of her murderous intent, so she’d beat the rap and take the insurance money to some beach island where all the men’s leafy dongs create swinging tropical breezes. But I know the look very well. I would like to think that in the next 50 years as our marriage grows toward being the TV movie of the week where she releases my Alzheimer’s-addled self into the woods where I can live free once again that love means there will be a lot less having to shut the hell up. I’d like to think I can at some future point actually tell my wife what I think of Charo in particular and Mexican women in general.

Until then, shut the hell up.


  1. On November nineteenth, my wife and I will celebrate our twenty-sixth wedding anniversary, an event that would be quite remarkable if not for the fact that recently my older brother celebrated his thirty-fifth and my ageless sister her thirty-sixth.

    The Bonners’ are lifers with no possibility of parole. Our apples have never fallen too far from our parents’ tree. They celebrated forty-three years of marriage before cancer and the angels took mom, and dad settled into what is now a long-term relationship with a woman who will always fall short of mom, but who makes him happy.

    I don’t know how my siblings would describe our secret to marital longevity, but if I had to let the cat out of the bag, this is what it would purr out:

    “In order to have a successful marriage, you’ve got to get a divorce.”

    What? That’s right, DIVORCE. Serve papers on the friends who don’t respect your marriage, or your spouse, cut the string on the relatives who don’t think your spouse is good enough for you, grab custody of your marriage from that other person who thinks that they’re so much better for you than your spouse. And for God’s sake, when you get home, leave the world outside. My wife and I check it at the door, leave it behind with a brief, “How was your day, sweetie, good? Never expecting a reply beyond, “Yup.”

    I don’t quite know what my wife does for a living and she thinks that I dither around with computers and other sorts of jack-in-the-boxes, maybe. We both know that marital accord has little to do with what we do for a living or how much money we make. It’s how we spend our time with each other that matters, how we compound interest.

    I love to dabble in the written word. My wife likes to dip her quill in home improvement projects and author up a remodeled room or two. We’re complementary colors who never try to overshadow each other.

    Sometimes, she doesn’t get one of my short stories, and I get confused at the intersection of the green and red paint that she’s splashed across a wall. But that’s okay. We respect each other’s space and place, our spot in the marriage, and how we both fit in. I’m mostly Mr. Mom, shuffling our daughter to and from school, running the errands, balancing the checkbook, and doing the heavy lifting that my testosterone periodically requires. I am also quite the skilled lover. She has mad HGTV skills. I often leave her with her drywall and tools before she amps up a saw or a drill, deadly, limb-chopping instruments in my wobbly hands. Did I mention that she’s a highly-skilled lover, too? After twenty-six years of marriage, her body still has the allure of our wedding night, and at least twice a week, my undivided attention.

    We’ll catch an occasional movie or play, or go out to dinner, but we mostly just nuzzle up at the end of a long day with back-to-back episodes of The George Lopez Show—Wappa!—before we pretend to watch the news and fall asleep. And as articulated so well by the owner of this blog, we have both learned how to “Shut the hell up.” In the basement, I’ve got a wine cellar full of uncorked whup-ass, words that if poured out would’ve destroyed our marriage years ago. I think my wife keeps her venomous brew in a safe deposit box somewhere.

    Maybe that’s the ultimate secret to happiness: Uncork the love and leave the rest bottled up. Trust me, it won’t explode or consume you from the inside out. If you give it enough time, love will flush the toxins right out of your system.

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    Bro Smoove speaks the truth. Love ain't a battlefield, it ain't an epic chore, most definitely is not a fairy tale and does not forgive fools easily. Love is evolution. Before God loved us he got to know us. Suck on that, creationists.