Looks Like This Will Probably Work Out

Today, Bob and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage.

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Recently, Bob told me that the way I brush my teeth is absolutely ridiculous and super duper annoys him. Something about how I use too much toothpaste? So it creates too much toothpaste foam? I’m not really sure. I was too busy brushing my teeth when he was trying to explain to me how the way I brush my teeth is silly.

If the traditional gift for ten years of marriage is stainless steel or paper or something, it would appear the traditional gift for thirteen years of marriage is some sort of Airing of Grievances. Which, I’m not so sure is a road Bob wants to travel down.

So now, of course, I try to purposefully brush my teeth when Bob is in close proximity because spite is ALSO a way to celebrate thirteen years of marriage.

Obviously, the flame of our love still shines bright.

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Bob and I were married at this kind of fancy resort in Pennsylvania picked sight unseen solely for its location halfway between my family in the Midwest and Bob’s family in the Northeast. It was a perfectly lovely place but the resort’s execution of our event was fraught with problems, errors, and omissions.

I remember explaining to the hotel’s coordinator that the one thing – ONE THING – I wished for my wedding was for Bob not to see me in my dress before I walked down the aisle. It’s such a ridiculous tradition but it was my one thing. I cared not about any of the other things. “Not a problem,” she said. I rode the elevator with my father to the rooftop terrace where the ceremony was taking place thinking that Bob was already down the aisle. So, of course, when the elevator doors opened, there was Bob and his best man looking surprised to see me and totally confused about where they were supposed to be at that very moment. I remember uttering an expletive (classy!) loud enough that I was worried the guests had overheard. I’m pretty sure my father has blocked that part out. The part where he walked his dainty, lady-like, cursing-like-a-sailor daughter down the aisle.

There were so many other things that went wrong that day. A problem at each step of the way. From rehearsal to ceremony to reception. Whenever I tell people about how the hotel forgot to bake our wedding cake, how the catering captain pulled me aside after the reception began to tell me that there was (oops!) no cake, they assume that that was the worst part of our wedding day. But, it wasn’t. Nothing that went wrong that day was more egregious than the anticlimactic moment when those elevator doors opened and Bob was standing right there.

It’s funny because I knew, even as I was planning our wedding, that it was not the wedding I wanted. My ideal wedding was always one where we have our family and friends over for dinner and then get married somewhere between the appetizers and the entree. When my cheeks are rosy from the wine. Simple. Not fussy. There doesn’t even have to be cake.

So, at some point in the years since our hilariously hiccup-riddled wedding, Bob and I started talking about having another wedding. A different wedding. Something that was more… “us.” Maybe for our fifteenth anniversary. Or, our twentieth. I’d like to celebrate our union anew.

That is, if this whole teeth brushing thing doesn’t tear us apart.

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Six months into our marriage, I was pregnant with Henry so for most of the past thirteen years, our lives have been all about raising babies and toddlers and kids. Parenthood is all consuming and tiring and makes you forget why you got married in the first place.

But, now that our youngest child is in school full-time, Bob and I have been spending lots of time together. We’ve managed to meet up for lunch on occasion. Or, go swimming or hiking together. Sometimes, we just lounge about the house sshhhing the other person when they start to speak, lest it ruin the sweet silence of a (temporarily) kid-free home.

In a way, it feels like we’ve crested a parenthood peak and found each other on the other side. The kids and the noise and the chaos and the mayhem are still there but no one is in diapers anymore and everyone is sleeping through the night. It feels like there’s space for Bob and I – for us – now, too.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that we actually still have things to talk about. Namely, how I brush my teeth.

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A Brief Visual History of Bob’s Trip to the Grocery Store

This one time, in early 2004, as an unusually strong winter storm threatened high snow accumulation throughout the D.C. metro area, I sent Bob to the grocery store. We needed to procure supplies in case we were stranded by weather. Bob was gone for a good bit, stuck in long lines, but eventually returned with frozen turkey meatballs and one (1) container of Gatorade. That was it. Nothing else. Just the turkey meatballs and the Gatorade.

I haven’t sent Bob to the grocery store since.

Now, for a ridiculous number of reasons, the past few weeks around our house have been absolutely frenetic. There have just simply not been enough hours in the day and more than a few times I have bemoaned the lack of even a hot second to sit down. So, when Bob asked me, while I was headed out the door to work – AGAIN – this past weekend, if I wanted him to do the grocery shopping, I immediately thought to myself, “No. No, I do not want him to do the grocery shopping. Ever.” But, I’m really exhausted, see? So, what I actually said was, “That would be great. That would be so great.”

Friends, it was totally not great.IMG_0862Despite decades of successful half and half use, for inexplicable reasons, Bob brought home dairy free coconut milk creamer. To no one’s surprise (but Bob’s – Bob was surprised), this dairy free coconut milk creamer was absolutely awful and Bob had to start completely over with another cup of coffee. When I asked him why in the world he purchased it to begin with he said he had, “read an article that said that cow’s milk will kill ‘ya.”

IMG_0861I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the fact that Bob shopped with the kids played a role in this ill-advised purchase. Also, and as an aside, chocolate does not improve this product in any way, General Mills. Even the kids reluctantly agreed.

IMG_0864Despite being fully aware of my lifetime of hate directed towards food makers that automatically combine cinnamon with raisins (WHY ARE THEY CONSIDERED SO INSEPARABLE), Bob purchased cinnamon raisin bread. What Bob did not buy: regular bread. Of any kind. None bread. But! He bought deli turkey so insert that one “confused face” emoji here.

IMG_0868There are 18 fish sticks in this package. Eighteen tiny fish sticks for a family of five. Go ahead and do the math on that.

IMG_0866I know what you’re thinking! This might make up for the fish sticks only… Bob didn’t buy any hot dog buns. Again, just the hot dogs. No buns.

IMG_0863I would never in a million years buy this mostly because I will just eat the cookie dough right from the package and do not even pretend that you are better than me because you would do the exact same thing. “DO NOT CONSUME RAW COOKIE DOUGH” Don’t tell me how to live my life, Nestle.

IMG_0867I mean, WHAT EVEN. Who buys Neapolitan ice cream? There are three flavors in this package and only one is going to get consumed. The only thing remaining between vanilla and strawberry will be the echo of regret. Incredulous, I picked this up from the freezer, looked at Bob and asked, “What is this, 1972?” He basically agreed that the last time he had had Neapolitan ice cream was when his mom had bought it for him.

IMG_0869An inexplicably large number of fresh lemons. Like, this is only a representative sample of the amount of lemons he purchased. So, sure. Why not.

What Bob did not buy at the grocery store that we actually needed: milk, REAL half and half, aforementioned bread products, cereal fit for consumption by anyone three years of age or older, orange juice, peanut butter, chips or crackers, pasta, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, cheese, glorious cheese. But, there’s no need to worry. I went grocery shopping at 8:00 last night after doing all of the other things so that was super convenient.

Want to come over for strawberry ice cream? Maybe some lemonade? Can I interest you in a single fish stick?

How to Not Stay Married

Step 1: Have a long and rich history of purchasing unnecessary pieces of furniture and assorted decor for your home.

Step 2: Purchase a salvaged fireplace mantel from an antique store. Make sure you do not consult in any way with your husband prior to purchasing your new antique fireplace mantel.

Pretend not to notice your husband rolling his eyes when you arrive home from shopping and giddily tell him about your new antique fireplace mantel.

Also, make sure that the home that you live in at the time has a perfectly lovely brick fireplace surround that would not even accommodate your new antique fireplace mantel thus ensuring that no one, not even you, can justify the purchase of a new, antique fireplace mantel.

Step 3: Ask your husband to return to the antique store with you the next day to help you haul your new fireplace mantel from the bowels of the warehouse-like building to your minivan.

Ignore the deep sigh that emanates from his general direction.

Step 4: Retrieve new mantel from antique store and attempt to fit it into the back of your minivan. Be unsuccessful at this. Witness your husband’s complete exasperation. Witness your positive attitude making everything worse. Jerry-rig the mantel with improvised ties in such a way that makes it impossible to close the back hatch of the minivan so the entire 30 minute drive home, the BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP of the car’s there-is-a-door-open warning system is blaring.

Assure yourself that the noise is probably why your husband is no longer talking to you.

Step 5: Arrive home with your new antique fireplace mantel and have absolutely no logical place to put it. Ask husband to carry mantel to the third floor storage room while you “figure out a plan.”

Step 6: Devise brilliant plan! Decide to create one of those fake fireplace vignettes in your dining room. Something like this:

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Request husband retrieve mantel from third-floor attic so you can get to work!

Step 7: Do not get to work.

Step 8: Look at mantel leaning precariously against dining room wall for several months, hoping it doesn’t accidentally fall on one of the kids. Eventually, put some candles on the top that also lean precariously.

Step 9: Decide to move. When husband asks if the mantel should, logically, be left behind, react with shock and horror at such a suggestion. Explain in earnest that if you’re moving, the mantel’s moving, too.

Place mantel in basement of new home, leaning precariously against a wall. Hope it doesn’t accidentally fall on one of the kids.

Step 10: Wait three years.

Step 11: Clear out the entire contents of your basement in advance of construction work. Carry load after load of items to the garage, both you and your husband working diligently to ignore the antique mantel leaning precariously against the wall until it is the only item that remains.

Wordlessly and while making no eye contact, move the antique mantel to a dark corner of the basement.

Step 12: Bravely suggest to your husband that the super talented contractor working on the basement could maybe, possibly, perhaps also look into replacing your current fireplace mantel with the new antique mantel?

Watch as your husband rolls his eyes while simultaneously sighing deeply and reluctantly agreeing.

Step 13: Wait until your husband has worked an 11 hour day after rising at 4:30 a.m. and THEN ask him to help you bring the mantel up from the corner of the basement so the contractor can take some measurements and provide an estimate.

Ignore your husband when he exclaims, “FINE. BUT IT’S NOT GOING BACK DOWN THERE.” Wave your hands in a sarcastic, dismissive manner when he threatens to chop the antique mantel into many, many pieces and throw it into the fire pit. Do not, under any circumstances, suggest this might be ill-advised since, “it’s probably covered in lead paint anyway.”

Step 14: Get a response from your contractor that indicates the mantel installation is doable but that provides no indication of a work start date.

With great enthusiasm, relay this information to your husband. Watch him have much less enthusiasm.

Step 15: Pretend, along with your husband, that the new antique mantel isn’t currently sitting in the middle of your living room, leaning precariously against a buffet, like a ticking time bomb. Like an elephant in the room that is almost the actual size of a small elephant.

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Convince yourself that the old newspaper and small kindling your husband is gathering is for an entirely unrelated project.