Tomorrow is my twelfth wedding anniversary. It wasn’t my idea to choose Valentine’s Day, it was my husband’s, and it shocked me at first. This is the man who gave me an emergency kit for my car for our anniversary (or was it my birthday?) one year. He’s a serious cynic about manufactured holidays that seem to be designed solely to fund the greeting card, floral, and jewelry industries. But there’s almost always a method to his madness, and in this case it was to keep him from forgetting our anniversary. When it comes right down to it, that actually is pretty romantic. I mean hey, he wanted to be sure he wouldn’t forget the date. That’s my guy: the anti-romantic’s romantic.
Truthfully, I’m not the most romantic person, either. Actually, I’m more than just a bit of a cynic (but flowers are always nice). No one has ever sent me chocolates, and I’d be embarrassed if they did. Besides which, chocolate is now a food group that has largely been excised from my life (high butterfat content, empty calories, boo-hoo).
My husband and I had some living to do (brief, unsuccessful marriages in our early 20s, checkered college careers, various and sundry low-paying jobs) before it was time for the hurtling vehicles of our lives to come to a crashing halt at the intersection of destiny and unlikely stories. The first time I saw him was in an undergraduate Shakespeare class. Five years post-divorce, I was in my high feminist dudgeon phase, and men tended to annoy the hell out of me (unless they were unattainable figures of authority–and that’s a whole separate post). So who was this silent dour guy at the back of the classroom who on a few rare occasions would make off-the-wall dryly comedic comments, then fall silent again for weeks?
One thing bugged me about him almost immediately. He was way smarter than the average bear (a crucial litmus test for anyone who wants to capture my attention), and I felt compelled to prove that he wasn’t the only one in class who had something going on upstairs. This situation time-traveled me back to the sixth grade, when Kenny Swanson, boy genius, appeared to think that he was hot shit. Convinced that I was at the very least his academic equal, I found myself grinding my teeth whenever he raised his hand to give the (inevitably) correct answer to whatever question the teacher had just asked. I do remember beating him in a spelling bee or two, and no one but no one was gonna knock me off that pedestal. Bookworm and budding writer that I was, this was hallowed ground that I would cede to no one.
So Shakespeare class came and went. I graduated and took off to San Francisco for a year to work as a legal secretary, spend more money than I had, and become hideously depressed living in an adorable flat located in the Sunset District, one of the most climatically depressing locales I have ever inhabited. (Fog was waiting for me in the morning when I caught the streetcar to work, and after much nicer weather downtown, fog would be waiting for me when the streetcar deposited me back in my neighborhood at the end of the day. Imagine Edward Munch’s “The Scream” painting and you will understand my frame of mind during that chapter of my life.)
After a year I decided that I couldn’t stand to remain in the City by the Bay, with its population of urban uber-people who all seemed to be 100 times smarter and more talented than I could ever hope to be, and looked like they’d stepped out of New Yorker cartoons. Lacking adequate sunshine, the proper social pedigree, and a gift for self-promotion, I abandoned my plan to morph into a city girl and high-tailed it back to the fiery chasm from whence I came. (Sorry, LOTR dialogue seems to be one of my defaults when I’m tired.)
And after my return to the fiery chasm, I decided to go to graduate school and acquire my second impractical degree (an MA in creative writing). And who should I run into after my return to campus but mister silent dour guy from my Shakespeare class. As it turned out, he was in the same master’s program. So he began to establish a prescence in my life, showing up in many of my classes. Eventually I had to admit to myself that he was both intelligent and extremely funny (okay, and cute, too) in a weird sort of way that made sense to me. Which led–eventually–to the world’s strangest first date, in which we met for coffee and he talked non-stop for about three hours, telling me pretty much the entire story of his life. In someone else this likely would have seemed incredibly rude or at least boorish, but he was actually very interesting, and I went out with him again. And again. And the rest was…..if not exactly kismet….intriguing enough to get me hooked.
And we’re both still living under the same roof with the world’s most adorable, ridiculous, and comic caramel tabbycat. We speak in snippets of movie dialogue . . . sometimes it takes just one word . . . and we’re off into another verbal riff. My husband can come across to those who don’t know him well as somewhat distant or aloof. Only I get to see the wacky dancing, hear the outbursts of goofy extemporaneous song, and watch him play his smackdown game with the cat.
(He’s playing guitar in the back bedroom right now, and the cat has stretched herself out and fallen asleep on top of my feet.)
Methinks I’ve got myself a pretty good gig.
(Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine’s Day.)