In 2012 I will have spent a quarter century–more than half my life–with the Man I Married. As I look back upon my youthful folly, here is my only suggestion to engaged ladies:
Do not lose weight before your wedding like I did.
Gain weight before the wedding. Lots of weight. Then lose it (for your health) after the wedding. Who cares about the photos? Photoshop them. Airbrush the extra chin out. What matters is how much you eat in the marriage that follows the wedding. Don’t give yourself an unrealistic number on the scale that you will battle for the entire duration of your marriage.
I lost eleven pounds between meeting my husband and stupidly marrying him a year later. I say stupidly because I was twenty-two when I met him. I thought my time was running out so I’d better get hitched right quick before I became Emily Dickinson or Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte—I had the obsessive scribbling part down, so I needed to head spinster off at the pass. So it was a gunshot wedding, only there was no ammunition, just duds. Sort of a nerf-gun wedding. No pregnancy but a whole lot of bladder infections.
I think the reason I went through with the wedding was because I was at the gym all the time instead of getting to know my boyfriend better. Then he went and had a Traumatic Brain Injury (by doing something stupid–twice), so whenever I got home from epic bouts on the Stairmaster (a fancy pants new piece of equipment on the market at that time) he was asleep, beginning a long recuperation that has lasted twenty-five years. So we never got to know each other well enough to call it all off. In fact, at the seven-year marriage point, he blinked, and his eyes came into focus as he said to our marriage counselor (our second of four), “Hey! I never really agreed to getting married. I was fresh out of a coma!”
To which I cried, “You proposed! You gave me an engagement ring on Valentine’s Day!”
To which he responded, “It was your grandmother’s ring! How did I get it? You must have given it to me in order to give it to you.”
He agreed to remain married, which in retrospect doesn’t surprise me, since at the time I was the only one with a paycheck. Plus, you know, I’m a bit of a catch now, even if I was desperate way back when. He’s not so bad himself. He reinvents himself every few years, so it’s like I’m Liz Taylor (unfortantely in more ways than one, and I’m not talking jewelry collection), married eight times but never having to go through all the nasty divorce paperwork.
I intended to dye my wedding dress so that I could wear it later to…well, I’m not sure where, because this was the eighties, and with its freakishly huge bow, the only place I could wear it would be a Cyndi Lauper concert. But I never had to figure out a venue, because I couldn’t fit into it three days into the honeymoon.
I gained back the eleven pounds plus some (the “some” amount varies, depending on how much I’m stress-eating because my husband is driving me bonkers with whatever new plan he’s hatched, maybe sailing around the world today, starting a hard cider business tomorrow, while yesterday it was running a treehouse campground).
Now if I proudly say, “I’m only five pounds heavier than the day I met you,” he says, “Yeah, but fifteen pounds more than on our wedding day.”
It’s odd that he does this, because, as long as we’re having sex, he doesn’t care what I weigh. He calls me gorgeous no matter what size my jeans are. I think it’s one of those male “just the facts ma’am” things that’s not intended to be a hurtful dig.
I then continue to set facts straight, without any intent of a hurtful dig whatsoever, no sirree bob, by pointing out that he weighs a hell of a lot more now than I do over meeting or wedding point. This is true, because he was a spindly twig at the time. He was a vegetarian, which meant that he ate peanut butter. That’s it. Peanut butter and Diet 7-Up. I sniff peanut butter and loosen my belt a notch.
After this calm, rational, emotionless, and quiet discussion about how fat the other one is now, we pop open an imperial stout and break out the cheese. (We’d have makeup sex, but by then we’re too full and tired.)
Brides, I suggest you do the same, now, before your Big Day. Have some brie with your peanut butter. Do you want to never ever again look as bony as you did when you marched down the aisle? And believe me, you’re marching, because you’re hungry and you want to get to the damn cake. Who cares that everyone is staring at your ass that day? Just plant a big bow on your bustle like Fergie did and shake your booty.
(She’s another one who lost weight before her wedding, and look where it got her in the long run.)
Just think. In a couple of decades you could take your dress in and dye it so that you can go see the Justin Bieber Comeback Tour (it happened with one-hit cutie Rick Springfield in my day, so I’m placing bets on a bald Justin touring in 2032).
Wouldn’t you rather have your husband introduce you like this at parties when you’re 35, or 47, or 59: “Look at how great she looks! She weighs less than the day we were married! C’mere, gorgeous, lay one on me.”
Here’s the thing: The Man I Married got rid of his wedding pants the second they didn’t fit. Which I think gives him a psychic freedom, the freedom to dream. He’s thinking about motorcycling to Tierra del Fuego while I’m tracking my weight. I’ve hauled my dress in a hermetically-sealed box from Hawaii to Seattle, from Seattle to New Orleans, and back to Seattle again. Do you really want a dress that you never wear taking up psychological and literal closet space for the rest of your life?
Also, like all men I know, the Man I Married freely and publicly divulges his weight no matter how fat or thin he is. Perhaps we women would have more space to dream if we weren’t trying so hard to keep our number on the scale a secret. As if no one can tell what size we are?
The sad fact is that I’ll only fit into my wedding dress again someday if I am seriously ill. And, what? Like the first thing I’m going to do when I hit 123 again after perhaps facing death is put on an old dress? At my age I’m going to wear sequins? Honey, if I survive a wasting disease and am thin again for the span of three minutes, I’m marching my shrunken rump and my charge card straight to the mall.
All I know is this, if that day comes, I’ll be glad it’s the Man I Married who’s at my side. I know he’ll still be there, because we’ve made it this far: through two severe head injuries, seven miscarriages, 483 bladder infections, an earthquake, a blizzard, the first difficult year of the Little Monster, and the nine-page UnaMomber Manifesto I composed about my mother-in-law and mailed to all living relatives. I might be bald and scarred, but he’ll still love me. As long as we start having sex again once I feel better, but that’s as important to me as it is to him.
It’s doubtful I’ll even weigh again what I did the day I met the Man I Married. How I wish I’d known at that tender young age that I was perfect that day, before I lost eleven more pounds. Beautiful and perfect. Blessed enough in health to still be walking this planet at a brisk pace a quarter century later. And gorgeous enough for someone to fall in love with me (with the help of a whack on his head).
The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…” —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor
“At turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Jennifer D. Munro’s writing crackles with wit and hard-earned wisdom. Her prose is snappy and eloquent, and often laugh-out-loud funny about the most unfunny things…” —Janna Cawrse Esarey, The Motion Of The Ocean
“I laughed like a little maniac. I just loved it. Hilarious.” —Mary Guterson, Gone To The Dogs and We Are All Fine Here