Last Valentine’s Day, the Man I Married and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of our engagement, when MIM put my own ring—inherited from my grandmother—on my finger while we camped in a borrowed tent on a free beach. To celebrate the quarter-century millstone, I mean milestone, we foisted the Little Monster off for a night onto The Agitator and Kansas (my brother and his wife). MIM and I hadn’t had a night together without the Little Monster in almost three years, when his Ohio grandparents watched him while MIM and I had a wild and woolly night in Toledo after an Ohio Turnpike scenic drive (the same scene for the entire length of Ohio). Unlike in Seattle, where you can’t throw a hemp grocery tote without hitting a Prius (although it’s usually a Prius hitting a pedestrian, since nobody can hear them coming as they make forays to purchase medical marijuana or hunt for mushrooms), we saw exactly one Prius, a vintage model, the entire cross-state trip and back. Other than that observation, much of that weekend is a pleasant blank, as Toledo and the Turnpike tend to be.
On our 25th anniversary overnight, to prove that we weren’t anxious to take off on our long-awaited romantic getaway, we slowed the car down as we neared The Agitator’s house, and we instructed the Little Monster to start pumping his legs so he could hit the ground running when he leapt out (with perhaps the tiniest of shoves).
The Man I Married and I were off to Snohomish, a full six minutes away from The Agitator’s house. “Don’t you, um, want to go farther than that?” The Agitator asked me.
We reasoned that the close proximity meant we would be nearby should an emergency arise with the Little Monster, but the truth is that there would be only six minutes between drop-off and our motel room. Specifically, within ten minutes of drop-off, I would be in the motel room bathtub.
We didn’t want a B&B. I would feel too self-conscious about the squeaking bed springs and moaning I hoped were in my immediate future (they were, but for different reasons than I’d envisioned). There was exactly one motel in the Bed and Breakfast World Headquarters of Snohomish, which has more frou frou per square foot than an 80s wedding dress. The motel was on the edge of town, a plain affair, but as we made our last-minute plans, as we always do these days, I honed in on one feature of the motel: one room was equipped with an indoor jet tub that seated six. That would surely accommodate even my expanding ass. I pressed the button for Make Reservation. The room was still available: imagine that on a Saturday night in Snohomish in February.
We hit the tub in the middle of the afternoon, as soon as the hotel allowed check-in, before unpacking. I’d brought along our premium bottle of whiskey but forgot bubble bath. No problem, MIM said as he stepped into the tub with me, dumping in the entire sampler bottle of shampoo. We each clutched plastic motel room cups of our top-shelf liquor. The water filled, the soap sort of burbled, and that was it. I hit switches, but nothing happened. No massaging blasts from those little holes around the tub. Then I spied another switch, on the wall across the room. Seriously? Whoever designed this must laugh every time he thought of the practical joke he’d left for tourists who couldn’t care less about water shortages plaguing most of the planet, his long-lasting jab at lovebirds who dared luxuriate in enough water for a farm family of old, plus their cow.
I hauled myself out of the deep tub and up over the side onto the slick floor. Seriously not sexy to crack my head open on the tiles. I skated my way over and hit the switch. Whoosh! The jets erupted on.
Aah! MIM sighed. “You did it.”
I climbed back into the tub, but something still wasn’t right. The water was up past our shoulders, but no bubbles. Well, it was shampoo, so what did I expect? Still, I fiddled. I twisted something or other that I couldn’t see. This had the immediate effect of letting in air.
“All they do is let in some air,” the reasonable protagonist says to the woman he’s trying to pressure into an abortion in Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” taught in every short story class I’ve ever taken.
All I did was let in some air.
A chemical equation explains what happened next:
H2O + Suave + Mucho Oxygen = BUBBLES
Lots of bubbles. The bubbles climbed. The bubbles rose higher. Up past our shoulders. To our ears. Over our heads. Leviathan bubbles rose up from the hot roiling sea. MIM and I could no longer see each other across the tub. The room filled with foam, which kept expanding and crept over the side of the tub. We blew out puffs of air to clear breathing tunnels for ourselves in the solid wall of bubbles. The bubbles started to drink our whiskey. At first it was funny, but then I started to claustrophobically freak out. The bubbles kept climbing in a Snohomish version of The Shining.
Middleaged Couple Found Dead, Suffocated by Shampoo;
Three Firemen Injured Slipping on Floor as They Searched for More Bodies
(thinking all that water couldn’t have been for just two people)
Here’s the thing about bubbles: you think they’re silent. What could be more quiet than a bubble? But put a tower of bubbles together in a room and they party hearty. The bubbles put their hands together for a cacophony, a symphony, a Keith Moon jam session. Bubble hooves galloped around us. Add the noise to the claustrophobia and I had to end this calm, relaxing bath before I had a heart attack: Found like Jim Morrison, death in the bathtub. Only, this was a swampy part of Washington State. Dying in a bathtub is only sexy if it’s a clawfoot tub in Paris.
I Brailled my way around in the tub, seeking the oxygen release thingie, and twisted, cutting off the air supply to the Godzilla of bubbles. The bubbles choked and wheezed out final breaths. The tower began to subside, collapsing down on itself. We batted them down and soon I caught a glimpse of MIM’s beloved mop of hair, which had done little deflating over the quarter century. We both sported bubble beards. We laughed. We cackled. We hooted and hollered. After 25 years, we still had “firsts,” though we never would have guessed that taking a wild bubble bath together would be one of them.
We then took ourselves across the street to a nice restaurant. Without the Little Monster in tow, we chose to sit at the bar. Since becoming parents, sitting up at the bar when at all possible, on real barstools, is our lodestar.
“Should I get another martini?” I asked the Man I Married after my first went down easily. And quickly. “I really shouldn’t get another martini. That was a really big martini. Well, okay. I’m not driving.” I signaled the bartender. “A dirty martini please. But only slightly, slightly, dirty. With extra olives.”
We drank alone at the bar. What did we have left to say after almost 26 years of breathing the same air? Meanwhile, the bar area behind us grew loud and boisterous with a row of tables shoved together and a huge group of people crowded together in a big tight circle around it.
Golly, these people were so darned happy! I wanted to move to Snohomish, immediately, and have them adopt me into their friendly circle of camaraderie. As happens to me in bars, generally during my second drink, I channeled my inner Chatty Cathy. I left my barstool and sidled over to the woman closest to me. “Howdy! What’s the occasion?” I asked her, grinning, wondering who I’d be wishing happy birthday or congratulations to. I was feeling magnanimous enough to send over a drink, which I’d never done in my life.
“Our friend died. It’s a wake,” she said.
I slunk back to my stool and ordered the breaded oysters. Which I spent the rest of the night and following morning throwing up.
“It was that last martini,” MIM pointed out, as I climbed back into our king-sized bed in the wee hours after yet again ralphing, in his highly honed marital version of “soothing pity.”
“It was the oysters,” I moaned back.
“But you told me you really shouldn’t order that last martini. You said, I really shouldn’t, tee hee hee.” He did his best high-pitched drunk Jenny imitation. “Right before you crashed that funeral.”
Four months later, we had another miraculous overnight together, courtesy of Hawaiian Granddad and Tutu. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we pulled out all the stops and drove a full hour and a half to yet another bathtub, this one on Camano Island. I brought an economy sized jug of bubble bath, but MIM forgot all of his luggage, including his allergy and heartburn medications. This time it was MIM who lay moaning on the bed for the entire duration of the trip. The bed under a mirrored ceiling (which is so wrong for people who’ve been married for 25 years and don’t need to know this late in the game that that’s what they’ve looked like all this time). The bed next to the giant jet tub. This fine establishment had gotten it right: no slithering from an arousing bath out to the bedroom; we could take one step from our Jacuzzi of love to the mattress.
This time, I got smart. I spied the jet tub switch across the room (what’s with the design flaw)? I flipped it on before climbing into the tub as it filled, thinking, I am one sharp cookie.
There’s another chemical equation that explains what happened next.
Bright Idea + Design Flaw = Oops, Sorry Darling
As the tub filled, the jets of blasting air I had so cleverly turned on in advance made contact with the surface of the rising water. Which sent sudden, powerful jets of hot water whooshing across the tub—and onto the bed and onto MIM. It was as if I’d turned on a few hoses at full blast. MIM rose up with a startled roar, battling back serpents of water that continued to arc across the room. Because the water was pluming across the room in great sparkling arcs, the tub was no longer filling, which would have eventually submerged the blasts of air. I turned off the water and heaved myself out of the tub, grappling my soggy way across the room to hit the switch. I turned sheepishly to face MIM, who sat dripping into a puddle on the comforter. “This is your side of the bed tonight,” he told me.
Ain’t romance grand?
The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition at Amazon
12.5 humorous stories about sex and the sexes. These sensual yet comic stories offer a fresh take on literary erotic fiction, as if Anaïs Nin and Erma Bombeck met at the library to spin tales of laughter and the libido. Collected from the pages of Best American Erotica, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best of Literary Mama, Clean Sheets, Zyzzyva, and others.
2 thoughts on “Airing Out a Quarter-Century Marriage”
Well, you’re laughing now. At least, I’m laughing now.
Thanks, Allison! Oh, yes, laughter gets us through, the bubbles and the burdens.