I Love Him. I Love Him Not.
Recently on a friend’s blog, I commented about romance. To those people still hoping to find everlasting love I gave this advice:
“Don’t expect perfection. After many years of marriage, I still love my husband very much – but NOT EVERY MINUTE.”
Friday was our twenty-first wedding anniversary.
And even on that special, happy day, I don’t love him every minute.
I take the day off from work so we can spend time together. We have a leisurely breakfast (we have a leisurely breakfast every morning…we’re not exactly quick to get going).
He presents me with an anniversary card. This does not make me love him more, since I had forgotten to get him one. I’m sure you understand if I admit that I rather resent the person who makes me feel guilty. But then again the card is exceptionally pretty, and I know from many, many minutes of exasperation that he spends an inordinate amount of time picking out a card – (hint: bring a book to the drugstore) – and the verse describes how lucky he is and what a saint I am to put up with him – so okay. I get over the guilt-resentment and I love him again.
After breakfast, time to shower. And he waits for me to get completely ready – hair, makeup, the works – before he gets in the shower. Now he knows I hate to share the bathroom, so maybe this is anniversary love, and not ordinary procrastination. Sweet.
Of course, he’s not one of the guys who takes five minutes in the bathroom. So added to my forty-five minutes is HIS forty-five minutes. And then he finally comes into the den with his coat on, “Are you ready yet?” he asks – like he’s been waiting for ME. Grrr.
I’m not the only one in this house who’s lost weight this year. My husband has dropped a ton, and he really needs new clothes, so I’ve planned a trip to the LL Bean store in Danbury, so I can buy him something decent to wear. Shopping is not his favorite past-time, but he likes it a bit more now that he looks better.
But first there are errands. “Right on the way,” he says. I’ve heard that before. But I agree – unfortunately it is HIS anniversary too, and I didn’t even buy him a card.
After the second errand, we’re a little far from the direction we were heading, so I ask, “How do we get back to the highway from here?” He tells me we’ll pick up the highway by Costco. But then about a half-mile down the road, it seems like we are getting further from where I believe Costco is. “This is the way to Costco?” I ask.
And he answers “Yes, Dear” – emphasis on the ‘dear’. I can’t stand being condescended to, and I can’t stand him.
But about two blocks later, he says “Oh shit” – and he turns around.
I love being right. So I love him again- sort of.
We finally get to the Mall. The parking lot is jammed with crazy Christmas shoppers. (I was crazy myself to get married over Thanksgiving weekend, but I had to plan my wedding around the budget schedule at the office. And I was NOT going to be a forty-one-year-old bride.) If I was alone, I would park way out in the boonies, since I can’t park for shit, but seeing as he is driving, he squeezes into a very tiny space close to the door. He’s my talented hero.
And it’s already noon. He wants to eat. I look longingly at the Mall, and agree to lunch first.
At least we pick the nicest restaurant. As I comment on the menu, he comments that the battery in his hearing aid has just quit. Then the other one goes. So for the rest of the meal, we have a conversation where I say something clever and he says, “What?”
An hour later we are finally ready to shop. He hates everything. I hand him stuff to try on and he says, “Yuck.” But I coax him into the dressing room, where I linger outside the door. And linger. He’s not quick at removing his shoes in order to try on pants.
But finally he appears in a nice looking shirt and navy chinos. He looks okay. I show him another shirt, which he does not want to try on. “That plaid offends me,” he says. An offensive plaid? I should have shopped on-line. (which I plan to do for Christmas presents, but I am no longer sure what size to order, so I NEED him to try shit on.)
I find an inoffensive plaid – which looks just like the other one – but he agrees to try it.
When he finally reappears (I’m telling myself that perhaps it had a million pins) he looks pretty good. He checks out his backside in the mirror and says, “Do you think these pants are too girly in the ass?”
This is LL Bean. Not even the women’s pants are girly.
I try to get him to try on parkas. He does, reluctantly. He hates them all.
So we buy the two shirts and one pair of pants. Okay.
We leave LL Bean and he says, “Let’s go home.”
I say, as nicely as I can, “As long as we are here, let’s check out a few of the other stores.”
So we enter the Mall itself. (LL Bean is a separate building – we haven’t even gone in mall yet. It’s 2:00 PM.) We look around to get our bearings. One anchor store is Macy’s; one is Lord & Taylor; one is Sears.
“Let’s go to Sears,” he says. “I could use a torque wrench.”
So we look at torque wrenches for a while. It’s romantic. We stop and buy him some new underwear. He complains that it is too expensive. I sympathize. Heaven knows the underwear at Sears is pricey.
And he says, “Let’s go home.”
And even though I planned this as a shopping excursion for HIM, I thought that he just MIGHT want to buy me a little something too.
So as we walk back to the exit, I linger in front of a few windows. And he FINALLY says, “Do you want to shop for something too?”
We go into Lucky Jeans. He picks out a pair of black skinny jeans. YES! I find what I think might be my size (what the hell is a 30?) and I try them on. They are way too big. YES again! He goes back to the rack for me (Is that unbelievable? How sweet!), and brings me a much smaller pair.
They fit. I model them for him, and he says: “Nice. Do you think they are tight enough?” Now this isn’t my mother being sarcastic back when I was 18. This is my husband wanting me to wear ass-hugging skinny black jeans at 61.
I love him again.
Back at home, we have a couple of hours before our dinner reservation. He starts trying on his coats. He doesn’t need a parka after all. He has saved all his coats from the last twenty years, and he fits into one of the old ones.
Then he tries on his better coats. They are big and baggy now. He goes up to the attic and finds an old topcoat from years ago. Dark gray cashmere; double-breasted.
He stands before me with a big smile. “I look great in this coat.” And he does.
And he brings back a sweet memory. On our honeymoon, he bought himself a black T-shirt emblazoned with a gold Mayan calendar. I remember him putting it on back at the hotel and saying to me – in all seriousness – “I look stunning.” I love him again.
We go to our favorite fancy, elegant (ridiculously expensive) restaurant.
We order wine.
I say, “Happy Anniversary, Honey.”
He says, “What?”