Breaking the Jell-O Mold

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, I continue to reflect on 25 Years of Wedded Bliss and Blisters

It’s a wonder that the Man I Married and I not only wound up together but stayed together, since from the beginning it seemed that we didn’t have much in common, especially musical taste. MIM liked bands with words like “butthole” and “violent” and “dead” in their names. I, on the other hand, liked pretty much anything that had an actual melody.

A national act coming to Hawaii, where we lived when we met, was a big deal in 1987, as I’m sure it remains to this day. So imagine our disappointment when, early on in our dating life, we learned that we each had a favorite singer coming to town on the same night. We were still trying to impress each other at that point, so we would have gone with the other one to pretty much anything that the other desired. MIM tried out Scottish Country Dancing (once, and only once) for my benefit, and I bought him tickets for us to go see a favorite band of his, The Cult. Only it turned out that I’d gotten mixed up, and he really liked The Cure. Whatever. It’s hard for me to keep men in black lipstick straight.

But with our favorites in town on the same night, which one of us would give up his or her dream concert, sacrificing our own desire?

Neither one of us.

That night was the first on which we inaugurated what became a highly-developed coping mechanism that has served us well over a quarter century.

Which is: We go places separately.

The technical term is: “I Love You Honey, BUT…”

Although we barely knew each other at the time, we trusted the other to go have fun yet not screw around. Our choice also clarified for us that we weren’t the type of people to get in the way of what the other wanted, while it was also clear that we were both strong and independent enough not to give up on something that was important to us. Neither one of us tried to shove our tastes down the other’s throat. We gave each other a great deal of freedom and the green goo of jealousy never entered the picture.

Although at the time I would have said that my musical taste was superior to his, our choices in hindsight clearly demonstrate that he was cutting edge, prescient, and an integral part of the cultural movement of our day. They really broke the mold when MIM was made. He can now, as he nears fifty years of age, gain the admiration of today’s youth by bragging about being at a concert that they would kill to have seen. I really can’t say the same.

On the surface, it must have seemed obvious that night that we were a couple who did not belong together and were headed for the rocks, because I dropped him off at the University of Hawaii campus to see: 

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys

Yes, that appears to be a man who has lost his pants while eating what I hope is Jello pudding.

Meanwhile, I went in my Toyota to the Blaisdell Arena to see:

John Denver


You think?

Opposites attract?

Seriously, can you see these two sitting down to dinner together? That would also probably be true of their fans.

Which would be us.

But time proves a lot of things wrong. Or right. If we had made a prediction, I’m sure we all would have bet that, between the two of them, Jello was the one headed for an early grave.

As it turns out, perhaps I was the prescient one. Tastes change, and the Man I Married recently commented, “You know, I’d probably go see John Denver now.”

But he can’t. John Denver’s dead. You missed your chance, bucko.

But Jello Biafra isn’t.

In fact he looks like this:


I really hope he manages to keep his pants on these days. If he comes to town, I think I’ll let MIM go see him without me. Again.

Going places separately gives us something to talk about.

Also, going places together can backfire. About two decades into our relationship, I took MIM with me to see Rufus Wainwright at the Moore Theatre. I really dug Rufus at the time, and I achieved a state of nirvana at that concert, completely tuned in to the music and the performer. Rufus gave multiple encores. I wanted the concert to go on forever. I could have listened all night. Which is what I gushed to MIM when the concert finally ended and we were walking back to our car afterwards. I then turned to MIM and said, “What did you think?”

“I would have slit my throat if he played one more song,” he answered. “That was the worst concert I’ve ever been to.”

To say that our marriage almost ended on the sidewalk outside of the Moore would not be an exaggeration. How could I spend my life with someone who saw the world so differently from me? Who considered my night of joy to be his worst agony? Who hated the music that enraptured me? I hadn’t been moved by music like that since I was a teenage girl. Wasn’t this the writing on the wall? A sure sign that it was time to throw in the towel? I needed a life partner that I could share moving experiences with.

Here’s how we managed to mend the fence that night:

We managed to agree that we both hated Rufus’s sister Martha, who opened for him and played in his backup band. I noted that she needed to wear a slip under her skirt, although that hadn’t bothered MIM, but we both concurred that Rufus was a model brother to share the spotlight with his less talented sibling.

The bottom line is that we stayed together, and it makes a great story at parties. When MIM went on a road trip with a mutual friend in the friend’s car, the friend made sure to include Rufus on the mix tape he made for the journey.

The next time Rufus came to town, I went by myself.

As years pass, coming up with something we both want to do on date nights or agreeing on a radio station continues to be a real challenge.

But it’s getting easier. These days we both just want to stay home. With the radio off.

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The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories

by Jennifer D. Munro
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“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

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5 thoughts on “Breaking the Jell-O Mold

    • Maureen, brave yes (in retrospect), wise no, mostly we were just young and stupid, and we got lucky. But, seriously, lack of jealousy can’t be overrated (sorry for the double negative, but I hope that’s clear!).

  1. I can’t say we played any Jello or Dead Kennedys while we traveled in Morocco, but once we figured out how to play my friend Terry’s IPOD in the tour vehicle we did squeeze in some John Denver.

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