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Married life filled with positives and surprises

May 28, 2002|BY TIM ROWLAND

Seems everyone is asking Andrea and myself the same question: "How's married life?" With me, their tone is one of genuine curiosity; with her, their tone is one of genuine sympathy.

Well, after two weeks we are still in the same house, which I look at as a positive. For a bachelor since time immemorial though, there have been some changes I've needed to make.

But I think Andrea has been pleasantly surprised. Just the other day she remarked with sincere appreciation that I was not the type of typical man who leaves the toilet seat up. I took her tenderly into my arms. "Why darling," I cooed in my most romantic tone. "Why ever would I leave the toilet seat up? I just go off the back porch."

She was quiet for a bit after that, and I think perhaps for the first time she might have thought that in marrying me she had "outkicked her coverage."

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People have been kind enough not to come right out and say it to Andrea, but they will sort of beat around the bush or "put out a feeler" that perhaps being married to me might be a mission somewhat comparable to driving the Taliban out of Tora Bora. Sometimes they will finally come and blurt it right out: "What's it like?"

Andrea always considers the question with the diligence and thoroughness of a woman who wants to construct a vivid and candid portrayal. "Well," she'll say finally, "it's a helluva thing."

For me, marriage has mostly been a process of unlearning stuff. I mean, I do stuff like make my own sandwiches and I thought I had all life's domestic answers down pat. Like when you're out of butter, pickle relish makes a better jelly than mayonnaise.

I've also had to unlearn what I - rather proudly - had mastered as an almost esoteric brevity in the conversational arts. Frankly, if I were as conservative with water as I am with words, my sewer bill would weigh in at about 32 cents a quarter.

Take for example this past weekend. Andrea is a wonderfully social and friendly creature who loves people, while I am - well, never mind. But she explained to me with "War and Peace" thoroughness how we ought to have a party.

I thought it over, prepared my response and chose my words well:

"Why?"

She explained with "Iliad"-like thoroughness that since we had a simple, small wedding that we didn't really have anything resembling a reception.

Again, I thought it over, prepared my response and chose my words well:

"So?"

To be honest, my idea of entertaining had always been telling the mailman to get lost. We went back and forth for quite a while. She was pretty much losing the war until she mentioned that she wanted to have fried chicken catered by Smithsburg Market. Curses. She knows that for Smithsburg Market fried chicken I would broker peace between the Arabs and Israelis.

So I commenced to get ready for entertaining. She did most of the work and had to do a little "prodding" a la Marge Simpson: "Homer, all I asked you to do for this party was put on pants and you didn't even do that."

I was in charge of getting the grounds of the Manor House in proper trim for the garden affair.

I confess to having a problem with obsession. I'm like the guy in "Infinite Jest." You go to sleep at 11 and wake up two hours later and your brain is sitting there on the nightstand saying "Oh, I'm glad to see you're UP, I've been wanting to TALK to you," and for the rest of the night and into the dawn hours it chatters away about things you have to do and need to do and should have done already.

So by Friday, I'm panicked. "I've got to mow the grass," I told Andrea.

"But you mowed it yesterday," she said.

She had me there.

"But yesterday I mowed on the north-south bias, today I have to mow on the east-west bias so the lawn won't have stripes in it."

It was ever thus. I start to do something and that just exponentially triggers about six other offshoots of things that have to be done. I forget where I heard it, but someone explained it as starting to clean the coffee table, then saying, "Waaaaiit a minute; this table doesn't need to be CLEANED, it needs to be REFINISHED."

Which helps explain the little propane incident.

I'm in charge of barbecuing the bratwurst when I glance up and, horrors, notice that my car needs to be washed. If there were ever an argument for not trying to do two things at once, this was it.

I was racing back and forth between a gas grill and a bucket of soapy water and a hose. I don't have room to get into the specific results, but suffice it to say that along with a north-south bias and an east-west bias, a neglected propane tank almost caused the lawn to have an up-down bias.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. Reach him at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or e-mail him at timr@herald-mail.com.

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