When we first met, we were both in our mid-twenties and living a lifestyle that could pretty well best be described as "late night" and "fabulous", as well as "hanging-on financially by our dining out-concert going-next round's on me-shop at Urban Outfitters fingernails".
He was a bartender at an Old City Philadelphia watering hole for the eccentric and well-off (though mostly eccentric), and I was shuffling papers as a clerk at a large pharmaceutical company by day, following my acting dreams by night. We had some money coming in, but it routinely went out later that evening.
Each evening after my play rehearsals or comedy improv shows ended, I'd hang out at the bar where my sorta-now-boyfriend worked - me hovering over glass of wine while he worked his magic with a beer tap until last call - and then we'd stay out even longer and later at one of the many after-hours clubs frequented by a cattle call of Philadelphia’s glitterati: everyone from Main Line male models and sexy waitresses to statuesque transvestite divas to hip, happening young club owners who were in possession of more dough than any guys wearing vintage bowling shirts would be expected to possess. And every night, we’d see 3 AM lighten to reverse-twilight, brighten to a hard dawn, and forty ounces of coffee into rush hour, I'd be on my way to work again, lather, rinse, repeat.
Sleep was for the weekends, although mostly sleep seemed to be optional when you were 25 years old.
During the first four years of my relationship with my then-boyfriend-almost-fiance, our affinity for each other was based firmly in our mutual ability to suss out a good time, dress ironically excellent and - of course - crack wise with the wise cracks.
Sometimes, we met at a diner for a late lunch.
Once in a while, we went to the movies.
Otherwise, being too exhausted by our fabulous and whirlwind schedules to hold much of a conversation, we spent a lot of time playing backgammon at the bar as a way to get to know each other. (He's all strategy; I'm all roll of the dice.)
How we got from there to here is - I won't lie - a mystery. A fabulous mystery...but still a bit of a head-scratcher.
My last clear memory of having ever made some decisive step toward the long haul was while sitting bleary-eyed at an airport terminal and my not-yet-husband mumbling something endearingly mushy like, "My roommate's moving out. You want to move in when you get back from Seattle?" and me answering with a breathy "Yup!" and next thing you know, you're living outside of Harrisburg with three kids, staying up late at night to squeeze in a few child-free hours at your blog, and barely hanging-on financially by your mortgage-car insurance-braces-commute costs-dance classes-sewer bill-shop at Good Will fingernails.
In that way, I suppose it was a slow-glide toward much of the same.
Although I sure do miss the transvestites.
Now, in most ways, our courtship was very much...erem..."non-traditional" when you factor in the co-habitating and the lack of daylight and our insufferable coolness. More like vampires, actually, than anything Dr. Phil would approve of as textbook match-making.
But compared to the relationships of today where two young could-be-lovers might first read each other's blogs or Facebook page or exchange emails and so be privy to the most intimate personal details ("My First Grade teacher never loved me") to lists of idiosyncratic daily minutiae ("I had a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch...again!") to indiscriminate divvyings of Way Too Much Information ("I sleep with a Luke Skywalker puppet"), my now-spouse and I had only the vaguest notions of what we were getting into when we finally said "I do."
And frankly, I'm kind of glad.
Call me old school romantic - or maybe just squeamish - but I'm just not sure I'd want to know right away the exact breadth and depth to which he idolizes Bill James, or the extent of his crazy whatever that compels him to actually seek out and ingest stinky, stanky olives, or - heaven forfend! - I couldn’t imagine any circumstance for which a full and detailed reckoning of his toenail clipping habits would immediately transcribe as love note. Even to a podiatrist. It's one thing to walk through your house one day and happen upon a person clipping his toenails while balanced over the bathroom sink like a large white, slightly-squidgy flamingo and think "hmm...peculiar...but sexy!" It's another thing all together to comprehend fully that while hacking away at his or her feet, this person was at the same time expending serious intellectual energy into the meta-cognition of their own toenail clipping habits whereupon they then felt some urgency born of exhibitionism-tarted-up-as-existentialism that pressed them into not only writing about their pedicure-larities, but an urgency which also commanded the self-publication of that writing to bear witness to the world at large.
In other words, I don't know that I'd want to be partnered with anyone whose self-awareness and exhibitionism competed with my own ego.
I mean, blogging.
Well, that took an oddly confessional turn.
The short of it is that - for me, not speaking for anyone else - most times, knowledge is power.
Other times, sticking my fingers in my ears and going "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA" is what, I find, works best in keeping the love alive.
It’s not that I don’t want to know it all, eventually.
I just don't want to know it all, all at once.
Even while my Dearly Beloved and I are wearing each other down with mutual understanding until that day when our connubial adoration for each other renders us cozy and comfortable as a sixty-year-old pair of Woolworth’s flannel slippers, I'd still like to maintain some mystery.
Am I right! Or am I right?
See, I'm kinda glad that seventeen years ago, I didn't read a "50 Things About Me" meme on his blog in which he revealed that he despises peanut butter. I'd have missed out on that spark of excitement twelve years into our marriage when - during a rest stop on a five mile Saturday afternoon hike with three ornery children and one ferociously hungry mate - we all sat down to the lunch I had packed of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, and peanut smoothies.
I honestly don’t want to know all the “friends” any of my boyfriends were “poking” on Facebook before I met them. I reserve the right to slap and/or throw a drink in the face of any chick who acts too chummy and too familiar too quickly and without first paying me some props and getting my go-ahead to address my dude as anything other than "Sir". I may talk all feminista and progressive when I’m sober, but get one beer in me - even an expensive foreign beer - and I turn into Dolly Parton mid-chorus with a shotgun. Seven years into our marriage, finding out that I had a Dolly Parton side (if not a front) was a itch-scratcher that couldn't be beat.
And then there was my secret ticklish spot he just discovered three years ago, and that was good for a double line a few months later.
And although I had some inkling that he and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on all things music related…Boy! What a surprise!
Both of us had brought a combined 500+ compact discs (Google it, kids) into our marriage, and yet of those 500+ titles, only two CDs were duplicates. So, as you can imagine, it took almost fifteen years before my husband discovered that I had only the slimmest sliver of toleration for The Velvet Underground.
And when he did find that out, he almost divorced me on the spot.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…I get intellectually why I should get down on my knees each morning and say a prayer of thanksgiving to John Cale or Andy Warhol or whoever for the genius and musical salvation that is The Velvet Underground, but frankly, deep down in my gut where the bass should be pumping in rhythm to my own true heart, I just don’t get it.
Lou Reed’s out-of-tune, self-important whinging just makes me want to kick an art student. Or a poet. And that’s just not right.
So, you can see, if I had had a Facebook page in the early nineties, surely at some point it’s much more likely that - out of sheer boredom or during a run of writer’s block - I would have answered a “Rock Singers That Sound Like Nails On The Blackboard Of Your Soul” meme, and I would have lost all my friends in seven keystrokes.
Instead, this information hasn’t come up as a topic of conversation for almost 40 years.
Just think…if the Internet had been around “back then", sure, my husband may have linked up with a partner with whom he had more in common: someone who spent inordinate amounts of time thinking and talking about baseball; someone who could listen to the entire 10:40 minutes of Television’s Marquee Moon and not have their bleeding eardrums jump out of their head in an act of suicidal desperation; someone who thought that a brunch date was a lousy waste of a perfectly good Sunday morning.
And that someone would have been my ex-boyfriend, Steve.
As it is, my husband got me: his Velvet Underground-dissing love of his life.
And all the fabulous mysteries that are me!
And They Lived Happily - and Mysteriously - Ever After.
You can stop reading my blog now, Dear.
One Velvet Underground performance
that we both do enjoy.
Thanks, Teh Internets!
that we both do enjoy.
Thanks, Teh Internets!