I feel a little like Bilbo Baggins today – looking back over the many years and reflecting on my wild and unlikely adventures. So maybe I didn’t travel thousands of miles on foot with a gaggle of irritable dwarves to battle an assortment of trolls, goblins and freaky spiders – and a grumpy fire-breathing dragon. No, I accomplished something much harder. I have remained married to the same man for 20 years while raising 2 kids and I still love him. What’s even more remarkable? I still like him and I’m pretty sure he still likes me.
So what’s our secret? Well, drinking helps. No, not really. But a sense of humor does. Through all ours trials and tribulations – whether it be bearing and raising real live human children, balancing work and family and (non-existent) “social” life, getting older and having shit go wrong with your body – or just having shit go wrong in general- we have always had the ability to make each other laugh. Sure, sometimes it’s a bitter laugh filled with steely regret – but still…a laugh. (Remember; Sense. Of. Humor.)
So my husband and I met 20 years ago this month. Here is our true “Met Cute” story;
It was snowing in Park City, Utah because sometimes it will fucking snow in April (I hear you, Prince) and I had a flat tire and I was locked out of my house. My roommate Aundrea – big strapping blond girl – looked like she could snap a field hockey stick in half with her bare hands- but in a pretty, girly way – got home from work and she too had had a shitty day. We decided to head down to Main Street n get drunk. We started at a local restaurant where I worked and plied the manager for a free pitcher of margaritas (he was nursing a crush on me and we abused him – sue me) and then we rolled over to The Alamo where our roommate Skids was behind the bar. (Note: All names in this story have NOT been changed as no one is innocent.) We did a few shots of Wild Turkey with our other roommate, Fish – and things began to tilt.
The Alamo, back in the day, was a filthy, unkempt Rugby player infested bar that featured broken toilets, battered bar stools, cramped and dark corners and a ratty little stage showcasing loud and not necessarily talented bands. On one infamous night the local Park City Rugby team was celebrating a match (doesn’t matter if they won – they were celebrating either way) when two players decided to become Siamese Twins. They jumped up on a table to hoots and hollers, dropped trow and “fitted” their penis turtlenecks around each others – sort of garden-hose style…you get the picture. If you don’t you are probably too young and/or innocent for this blog and I think I can hear your mother calling you. Anyways – that’s the kind of place The Alamo was (now its all fancy shmancy and the toilets work and they don’t allow men to join their penises in public anymore. In a word – Lame.) And that is where I met my husband.
Aundrea and I – with a little help from our friends – were now quite drunk. My dear friend was off somewhere heaving and I was nursing a water and watching some guys shoot pool. One man in particular stood out. He was tall and lanky with wide shoulders and long white-blond hair captured in an unkempt ponytail. He had high cheekbones and crazy eyes. Crazy blue green and well, just crazy looking. He worked that pool table like a magician. I had noticed him a week or so back and now saw my opportunity – fueled by way too much alcohol – to make an introduction. I tottered over to the chalkboard and added my name to the roster. As the blond stranger blew everyone off the table one by one my name finally came up. I walked over to him and looked up into his handsome face and he loomed over me with a bemused smile. I said “I am a pool shark and I am going to take all your money”.
We began to play. Well, he played. I sent balls off the table, across the floor and generally scratched so hard I could have been a DJ. Apparently I had been lying about the pool shark thing. As our game swiftly ended I noticed my roommate was now under the bar and was being hauled away by Skids and Fish. So much for my ride home. So I stayed and talked with the handsome pool player. And then the most amazing thing happened. He didn’t try to drive me home. Or grope me. Or molest me in any way. (This was old school Park City remember, a bacchanal in the extreme and men vastly outnumbered the women so believe me when I tell you this was rare). He simply asked for my number. I caught a ride from a sober friend and when I stumbled in at 1:30am (and stumbled over Aundrea who had decided to park it in the hallway – oh how the mighty had fallen) I saw my answering machine blinking. I pushed play and heard the phone message that would ultimately change my life. “Hi Evil, (he guessed my nickname!) it’s Brian. I knew if I didn’t call you right away I would forget your number so I am calling you to see if you want to get coffee or something tomorrow etc.” We did and 20 years later we still are. Drinking coffee.
So maybe they won’t make a hugely successful RomCom out of my story but it’s mine. I also LOVE telling people that I picked my husband up in a bar. Mr. Waits might be right – you don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops but I met the love of my life in a filthy saloon.
Now it’s been 20 years and I am chock full of wisdom, a few regrets, and ideas about what I could have done better. I try not to dwell on the past but hindsight IS 20/20 so if I could go back I would do a few things differently. But the past is past and the future is only a theory so in the spirit of this momentous achievement I would like to make 10 promises to my dear husband.
- I promise to not…you know…be all…unless I have a Good Reason. Or you make me.
- This one just says it all. I’ll try. I promise.
- I promise to stop wearing my Cookie Monster pajamas everyday – because like my flannel sheep pajamas I know they make you feel bad about your life.
I promise not to cut my hair short. Even if I end up looking like Crystal Gale with a big ol bald spot I know it is the one thing you have ever mentioned about my appearance. Not the weight I’ve gained or the wrinkles I’ve acquired. Not body altering surgery or body covering tattoos. Just my long hair. I will wear it long for you, dear, until it is a river of silver down my back.
I promise to never lose my sense of humor and to not take myself too seriously. We have laughed together at the darkest of times – and the most joyous. These make up my best and deepest memories of us.
I promise I won’t be old and boring when I’m old. We will be that crazy couple that rides Harley’s across the country or hikes the Himalayas or something. Our golden years will be golden because we will be burning and alive.
I promise to love you even when sometimes I don’t like you and I promise to put more effort into liking you because you really are a hell of a guy.
I promise to be a good cheerleader and partner to you. I haven’t always agreed with your decisions but I see now that even though we are a couple you are still an individual – I didn’t understand that so well all those years ago. So unless you want to take up snake wrestling or fire eating or some such shit you have my undying support to be who you want to be. And if you really have your heart set on the snakes and fire stuff then I will pay for circus school.
And finally I promise to try to look at you through the eyes of the love-struck girl I was when I met you, tempered by the woman who knows and loves you so well that I have become.
Our journey is not over yet. In many ways a lengthy marriage can be like the movie Groundhog Day. You live out the same day again and gain – working through all your bullshit and asshole moments until finally one day you figure it out and it all clicks. You stop being a prick and you become that guy that can play piano and change a tire, save a kid from falling out of a tree and offer support and good cheer at every turn. The day comes when you stop struggling against every little thing that your partner does or doesn’t do and instead you accept. And what’s more you celebrate. And then something magic happens. It all gets better. Happier. More loving. More joyous. One day you wake up and you finally get to kiss Andie Macdowall and what can be better than that.
I first heard this poem in “Peggy Sue Got Married” a movie that shows more about what loving despite obstacles and problems means than you would think (plus, Nicholas Cage, so, Bonus. ) this is perfect poem for my dear Brian.