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

Mismatch?

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:

Jello

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.


Now on Kindle

The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories

by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon.com
 
PRAISE FOR JENNIFER D. MUNRO’S SHORT STORIES

“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

 “…poignant…”  —San Francisco Chronicle

 “…touching and funny…”  —Slowtrains.com

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Sizing Up Your Betrothed

I got officially engaged on Valentine’s Day twenty-four years ago, eight months after I met the Man I Married.

It surprises me now that we got engaged on a traditional day, because nothing else about our engagement or our wedding four months later was by the book.

The engagement ring was my grandmother’s. We paid to have it sized and inscribed, and even that was a stretch on our budget. Back then my Swatch Watch was a splurge for me.

When we took the ring to the jeweler, the pleasant man with the monocle asked what we’d like the inscription to read.

“How about I Love You, Jenny,” proudly said The Man I Was About to Marry.

The jeweler cleared his throat. I could see that he hated to interfere with such a personal matter but that he felt obligated to assist the clueless bloke with the weird hair standing before him.

“Are you sure?” the jeweler asked.

The Man I Married thought the problem was length (not out-of-line for a man considering his wedding night). The ring was tiny. I do not come from moneyed nor large-boned peoples, so the jeweler needed that monocle when it came to inspecting the diamond pebble on the sliver-thin ring. The ring was really all prong.

Still, I loved it. It was a shiny heirloom that would soon be given to me by the man I’d already proposed to. The prongs were apt, rather like metaphorical pitchfork prongs I’d used to persuade him to tie the knot.

“Um,” MIM considered. “How about I Love You, Jen?”

“Well,” the jeweler said kindly, “normally the inscription includes the name of the ring giver.”

“Oh, okay,” said the Man I Married, as open to suggestion then as he has remained to this day. “How about I Love You, Rick?”

Magnifiying the Actual Marriage

The jeweler sighed. I wish I could have repaid him for his patience back then in 1988 by assuring him that two decades down the road that monocle on his head would make him the epitome of cool as he ushered in steampunk.

I used to remember the final inscription, but although I vividly recall that scene in the jeweler’s, twenty-four years later I pulled a blank on how the ring was finally engraved.

I also used to be able to read the inscription.

I easily found the ring but had to borrow the Man I Married’s drugstore magnification lenses that are littered all over the house, so that they are within easy reach whenever he wants to read something that proves that he is right and I am wrong.

I donned the glasses, squinted, held the ring far away, held it close up, held it directly under a 100-watt lightbulb, angled it this way and that, and finally made out:

Love Always, Rick

Ah. And I suppose he has. So far.

At least I still have my ring. MIM didn’t have an engagement ring, but he lost his first three wedding rings, so I can logically conclude that he would have lost an engagement ring, too.

It’s a wonder I can still get that ring on my finger. It’s not that my fingers plumped up along with the rest of me—it’s that my knuckles beefed up. Forget admiring your youthful skin and hair; appreciate your sleek knuckles while you can. Getting that ring over my knuckle is like squeezing an embroidery hoop over a fire hydrant. But with enough ice and soap, I managed.

I still love that ring. The one I gave him to give to me.

On our fifteenth anniversary he gave me a new ring that he chose himself. He presented it to me at a bar with a bullet hole in the wall, and everyone there thought I was luckiest girl this side of the interstate.

But in the end it’s not the jewelry that matters. The real reason to plan out a memorable engagement or a wedding is that it’s a great way to suss out the true character of your chosen one.

If your bride or groom is a closed book to the expert advice of others, I’d suggest closing the book on the upcoming nuptials.


Now on Kindle
The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon.com
 
PRAISE FOR JENNIFER D. MUNRO’S SHORT STORIES

“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…”  —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor

“…utterly new and eccentric…really a great piece of wit…[with] magnificent brevity…”  —David Lenson, Editor, Massachusetts Review

 “Not since reading David Sedaris have I laughed so hard…talented, funny and insightful.”  —Gitana Garofalo, Hedgebrook

 “…made me laugh out loud…I still chuckle…” —Samantha Schoech, Editor, The Bigger The Better The Tighter The Sweater

Weighing in with my Advice to Brides

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.”

So busted!

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.

The Famous Fergie of My Day

(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).


Now on Kindle

The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro

Kindle Edition $2.99 at Amazon.com
 
PRAISE FOR JENNIFER D. MUNRO’S SHORT STORIES

“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