Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Funnier now

Even on the days that I don't like my husband very much and start to wonder if I was maybe kind of a little bit crazy for marrying him, I have to admit that he has provoked a number of positive changes in me. I started cooking upon discovering his textbook case of heart-through-stomach access, and I'm now a much more accomplished cook than I ever imagined I would be.

And I'm funnier. Much funnier. Instead of arriving at humor accidentally, I hear myself planning jokes as I begin to tell them. All because I love making him laugh. If I can make him laugh, I totally win.

Me: Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it were just the two of us forever. We could have nice furniture.

Husband: We'd have to get rid of the cats.

Me: The cats won't always be here.

Husband: True.

Me [cont'd]: Eventually they'll grow up and go away to college.

Because nothing says "I love you" like making your spouse laugh in such a way that he chokes on his saliva a little.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pantry banter

In one of my nutritionally self-righteous moments...

Me: You know, with the possible exception of canned beans, we don't eat any prepackaged food anymore.

Husband: Good for us.

Me [thinking]: Well, there's cereal. We both eat cereal.

Husband: Yeah, but it's not like we're eating-

Me: Lucky Charms.

Husband: Cap'n Crunch.* [beat]

Husband [cont'd]: Actually, I really like Cap'n Crunch.

Me: But doesn't it scrape the skin off the roof of your mouth?

Husband: Yeah, but that's kind of the Mona Lisa smile.

My husband has a masochistic relationship with a sweetened corn and oat breakfast cereal. I had no idea. But the the fact that I don't find this completely appalling suggests that this marriage is going to last. Or else, after three years, he's wearing me down.

*I can never bring myself to say "Cap'n" the way it's written, mostly because "cap'n" is not a real word, and therefore, kind of hard to pronounce. I say "Captain Crunch," which I know sounds forced, like I'm try to be pretentious about something with very little pretense. Like saying "Cup Of Soup" for Cup O Soup. But I can't say "cap'n." I jus' canna do 't.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

People (y)our age

Gross generalizations are something of a guilty pleasure in my house. They're never meant to be mean (though "cats are insane" is becomming a popular one), and they come in handy when trying to explain what our worlds look like from the inside out. I noticed again recently that my husband makes comments about "people our age." And sometimes I hear myself correcting him: "You and I are not the same age."

My husband's and my age difference is not huge. There is a larger age-gap in at least one marriage within my circle of friends. Still, the difference is big enough. Big enough to elicit a raise-of-the-eyebrows from my doctor (honestly - an eyebrow-raise?). Big enough that by some standards, we belong to different generations. And certainly big enough to be a joke when we were first a couple. When I was gnawing on cheap ball-point pens because my wisdom teeth were coming in, my future father-in-law told his son, "Your fiancee is teething," and the cradle-robbing jokes abounded. As a college student not yet old enough to drink, I was Rob's "child bride" to his friends long before we were married.

Rob always smiled along with the older-man-younger-woman-nudge-nudge teasing, but he never seemed to enjoy being nicknamed "cradle robber." In getting-to-know-you mode, he would tell me stories about himself growing up, remembering back to when he first learned particular songs or words or concepts, sometimes dating the memories to a specific year. I would jokingly interject, "And how old was I?" He'd do the math and cringe. Apparently, picturing the girl sitting across from you in a cleavage-baring V-neck as a toddler isn't a turn-on. I stopped bringing it up. But it still comes up. He remembers certain cultural phenomena (*cough*grunge*cough*) like they were yesterday, while my concerns around the same time were still those of the schoolyard. Sometimes I wish we had cable TV; watching I Love the 80's and its ilk with him would be a fascinating peek into our mis-matched pasts. Many of the things that I vaguely remember, or have come to understand as kitschy, are firmly cemented "I remember when"s for my husband.

Not sharing a past with my spouse shouldn't really strike me as odd. For as long as I can remember, I had the idea that I would marry someone older than myself. It wasn't a goal per se, but I was the girl who was unpopular with her peers in large part because she spent so much time chatting with adults. I was a hojillion times more likely to have a crush on a teacher than on any member of any high school sports team. And more than once during a college lecture, I caught myself noticing whether or not my professor was wearing a wedding ring. I was attracted to what age represented. Youth meant idiocy and recklessness; wisdom came only with age. I wanted someone who knew shit. I wanted to know shit, if only by association with those in the know.

An outsider's perception might have been that I was in a hurry to grow up. But my goal was never to be a "grown-up." In fact, I found the idea vaguely repellent. "Adulthood" was the price that you had to pay to acquire knowledge. Or so I thought. This was the image adulthood that I grew up with, an idea that I inherited from my parents. When my mother was my current age, she had already been married for 4 years. My father will soon retire from a job he has had - in some form - for over 45 years. My parents never tried to pressure me into living my life a certain way, or on a certain time-line. There was no, "These are the things you must accomplish before you're 30." I know that I am truly lucky that my family would help and support me whether my goal was to own my own business, or to live in a pick-up truck on a deserted beach somewhere. Still, from my parents I got a prefabricated idea of what "adulthood" should look like - a certain kind of stable, a certain kind of responsible, and lots of seriousness.

My husband's parents, on the other hand, passed on Led Zepplin, a love of food, and little else. Rob doesn't look like his parents, and he doesn't act like they do. And, it seems, he never felt compelled to do so. No siblings and parents who worked and attended school meant that he spent a lot of time alone. This afforded him the opportunity to raise himself, and also to get very good at being on his own. He had been basically alone and supporting himself for ten years when he and I met; in short, he had formed "adulthood" in his own image.

In the end, I don't know why any of this should make a difference to me - why I feel so compelled to replace "our" with "your" when my husband generalizes about the people to whom he relates. Part of it is, of course, my desire not to be lumped in with his hobbies, his friends, his nostalgia. I don't have anything against my husband's peers, but I still harbor resentment over the fact that, when we got married, Rob still got to be Rob, but I instantly became "Rob's wife." I didn't have an identity of my own. And, by and large, I still don't - at least in terms of life-space. I'm too young to truly fit in with my husband's peers, but I am also atypical among my own.

"Our age" drives that home for me: I am not what I expected to be, and (though he does know quite a bit of shit) my husband is not the "adult" I expected to marry, so who and where am I? It forces me to hold my life-space up against my husband's. It makes me confront my preconceived notions about age, growing up, and adulthood. My husband's past and mine don't overlap, but our presents line up pretty well. Hold one next to the other, they're complementary. The more we experience together, the more we plant the seeds of shared memories, the more I see myself reflected in my life. "Our age" is a generalization, but it is also a statement about moving forward in married life together - a statement that doesn't require correction.