Category Archives: Jump Into the Wayback Machine

Everyone’s Best Friend, No One’s Prom Date: The Sad Truth of Being “One of the Guys”

BECAUSE IT NEEDS TO BE SAID:

Here is something that really disgusts me, in all kinds of ways.

A few years ago, there was this show that was about a girl and her three guy friends, and a lot of it focused on how she was the ‘ideal’ girl, because she liked sports and playing poker, she liked to belch and wear jeans. Oh yeah, and also she was a total knock out, and probably all of her ‘guy friends’ secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to date her. Or at least knock boots.

This is a theme repeated in movies, like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” for example. Oh, so, she loves basketball and riding motorcycles– OH YEAH– and she also looks like Kate Hudson, so, that makes her the ‘ideal’ woman.

Okay. That is wrong on so many levels.

I feel very sad for women (and men) everywhere because of this kind of polarization. The message is: In order to be ‘ideal’ you have to be just the right brand of masculine, and also just the right brand of feminine. Typically, this translates to: I want a woman who will let me do whatever I want, and participate in the doing of said activities, but will also look like a total super model– oh, and it helps if she can cook, too.

I feel like Dudes treat being ‘one of the guys’ like its some kind of high honor, but would THEY want to be ‘one of the girls?’ Have any of you seen shows about guys who just want to get facials and manicures and hang out chatting it up over wine and chocolate, and they are the IDEAL MAN– those shows ARE on tv, and guess what? The main character is typically a gay man, not a heterosexual man who just wants to be ‘one of the gals.’

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong about tomboys, or with girls that are super feminine, or any mix in between.

What I hate mostly is how the media perpetuates these rigid gender roles that are really stupid and senseless and don’t really have a place in today’s society– and I hate that because my daughter is going to be a part of it someday. I am all ready scheming of ways to keep Maren away from ‘tween’ fads, which, in my opinion, is making little girls grow up WAY too fast (Miley Cyrus, I’m looking at YOU).

What I hate MOST OF ALL– THE PARAMOUNT OF MY HATRED– is that it contributes to women thinking that they need to be that way to get guy’s attention. Trust me, I know. I spent all of high school and most of college pretending to care about Husker football because guess what? If I did, then the guys invited me out to the bar with them, and I got to sit next to so and so, and maybe– MAYBE– our fingertips would graze as we reached for the pitcher of Miller. When, really, all I wanted to do was go to a concert at Sokol Underground and have someone there with me who had the potential to form a complete sentence about the band we were watching– extra points if what he said was relevant.

My friend Scott has argued with me on this issue before. His opinion is that media is a influencing agent, but not an all together strong one, if you take it in context. And after some consideration, I have decided that I agree with him.

However: I think that one of the issues that has been created in the last few generations is that kids are kind of left on their own to form their own opinions about the world– and if they are constantly exposed to bull shit ideas like this one, with no opposing argument to tell them otherwise, they gradually begin to measure their worth against what the culture tells them their worth is and should be.

That is the point of this angry rant today. OPPOSING ARGUMENT OPPOSING ARGUMENT OPPOSING ARGUMENT

In high school, I would get so depressed about not having a boyfriend. It makes me cringe now. SO AWFUL. It’s so humiliating that I am terrified of running into people from high school who have this notion of me– oh that’s the girl who was so crazy about having a boyfriend that it was embarrassing for everyone around her. I coined the term: “Everyone’s best friend, no one’s Prom date” (which is ridiculous, because I did have prom dates. Three, in fact. The fact that they kind of sucked at it was not really altogether their fault. We were teenagers, for God’s sake)

Then I went through an Angry Phase, where any guy who crossed my path might very well get the crap kicked out of him. And even though I was definitely buying into a cultural stereotype of the angry man-hating feminist, I am so appreciative of those years. Because when I emerged out of them, what I found was that there was no one that was going to COMPLETE ME. Because I am complete. What you see is what you get.    I AM THE WHOLE PACKAGE. I AM ONE. Hey haters– Get off my porch.

This is hard for me to rant about, because I’m married. My single friends, who go through these hard times of identity crisis, always roll their eyes at me when I get ranty, because I’m married. I probably don’t even remember what it was like to be single.

Oh, to the contrary, my friends. I remember that I hated being single in college SO MUCH that I let a lot of skeezy guys take total advantage of me. And I remember then being the complete opposite, and detesting men so much that I thought I might melt them with my eyes. And then, in the middle of my anti-man phase, I discovered something really nice: I am kind of a cool person to hang out with. And instead of just wanting to advertise that to all the guys in the world, and wondering why they didn’t have the brains to notice how awesome I was, I just started hanging out with my own bad self.

I know how that sounds. Really pathetic. But trust me, it wasn’t.

And then I started loving being single SO SO SO MUCH that when Mitch finally came along, he had to work REALLY REALLY REALLY hard to talk me into an exclusive relationship. What, you mean I have to like, have an unspoken date with you every week? What– suddenly I have to walk to class with you when we’re leaving choir at the same time and headed in the same direction? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE GOING TO CALL ME EVERY NIGHT.

I will sum this up, before I explode all over these coffee shop walls.

Guys: If you are looking for the ideal woman, fantastic. I will not deter you from your quest. HOWEVER– don’t be a dick to the girls who are not the ideal woman, and are relegated to the friend’s list. If you are going to be just friends, BE just friends. And don’t pretend like you don’t notice when those girl’s like you and start to think that maybe there is something else going on. Give me a break.

Girls: RELAX.

You are ALL READY an ideal woman– yes, probably for some guy out there that you haven’t met yet– but WAAAAAY more importantly, FOR YOU. Trust me on this. I am married to a really fantastic guy, but sometimes he drives me absolutely crazy. And if all my self-worth was wrapped up in how he felt about me, there would be some really gray days. DO NOT LET SOMEONE ELSE DETERMINE YOUR WORTH.

LISTEN TO THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE. If they tell you that they want to be just friends, then THEY WANT TO BE JUST FRIENDS. This is not Hollywood, they are not actually scheming on you. I have found men to be pretty clear on this subject. Take what they say at FACE VALUE.

If it helps, go into an Angry Phase. Read the book “Cunt” and “The Feminine Mystique” and “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “Manifesta” Even if you don’t get into everything they say, relish the fact that you are a DIVINE CREATURE.

And if you really start feeling like your life will be over soon because you’re 27 and not married yet, and you just need to feel tamed and domestic, come on over next Friday night. I have a husband and a baby that you can borrow for a few hours, while I go out and do some angry feministing.

/end rant

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Filed under Jump Into the Wayback Machine, Let's Be Besties, Occasionally, I Am Just Me

Very Important Day for Maren

As we learned from a recent episode of Every TV Show Ever Made, one of life’s most valuable things is friendship. I’ve been very lucky in my life to have lots of friends– but I think that something that I’ve benefited from even more is the different levels of friendship I’ve had in my lifetime.

The last weekend, Maren met some fine folks: The Rocketships.

The gentleman, Scott Rocketship, is probably my oldest friend. We met in sixth grade, when we were part of a group called Odyssey of the Mind– which is kind of just what it sounds like. They get lots of nerdy geeky smart kids together and gave us a scenario that we had to problem-solve and then do kind of a presentation on it. I’ll admit that at first I thought it was an elaborate hoax by the jocks to get all of us smart kids together at once so that they could just give us one good group wedgie and be done for the year.

It required a lot of creativity, some level of intelligence in a variety of disciplines, and also some degree of patience for working with A) parents who have a lot of their ego wrapped up in how their kid performs in school, and B) parents who are not involved at all and could care less.

Our team was okay. We won first place at districts– and a special fancy award for extra creativity– and then I think we got 8th or 5th or something at state– I just remember it being an okay place, but not enough to advance to WORLD COMPETITION, which was devastating at the time– but really, that year it was being held in Ames, Iowa, so in the end, who cares. Nothing against Iowa, but the year before it had been at DISNEY LAND. For a ten year old, Ames, Iowa doesn’t really compete. I don’t care how pretty it is or what the arts scene is like.

But…. I digress.

Scott was really good at all of those things. I was okay– above average I’d say. My communication skills have never been fantastic. Creativity I have– oodles of it– but confidence (especially back then) not so much.

My confidence issues as a kid were not unique. I was terrified– beyond a normal fear– that no one was going to like me. I spent most of elementary school and middle school with NO friends, so when they tapped me to join this group, my first thought was HOLY CRAP you mean I get to HANG OUT with kids that are MY AGE and might be able to speak in FULL SENTENCES?!?!? AND SOMETIMES THERE WILL BE SNACKS???

But then, most of the time, I just sat in the corner and contributed NOTHING, because I was terrified. And the parent-leaders of the group, although they were very nice people, had no training (or time or interest) in how to draw a scared 12 year old out of her shell. So…. for the most part, I was kind of dead weight that year.

Although, I did get to drive the car that Scott and his Dad built as part of our presentation. And even though I was pretty awful in rehearsal, when it came right down to it at competition, I WAS good at that. Too bad there is no place for that on my resume.

Scott on the other hand has always had so much confidence. I think that if we went into space right now we could probably spot it, smirking at us from somewhere in Iowa. I’m a little hesitant to write this blog post on him– because after I write a bunch of really great things about him, I can just picture him saying, “Yeah, I’m the greatest. Tell me something I DON’T know.”

I kid, I kid.

These days– almost 15 years later– I’d consider Scott to be one of my best friends, someone that I want Maren to get to know and learn from. Before Mitch and I were engaged, it was important to me that Scott give me a little character assessment. A lot of times when I have an issue I’m wrestling with, I want to chat with Scott about it (and, in recent years, with his wife, Cat, also), because he always has a really upfront, no bull-shit kind of attitude about things that helps me put things into perspective. It’s like yoga.

So, you might be surprised to know this. 15 years ago? And 12 years ago? And throughout most of high school? Scott and I did NOT always get along.

As two smart kids interested in the arts, we were thrown together a lot. I wouldn’t really say that Scott is confrontational, so to speak, but he does kind of demand people to be succinct about their ideas and is not a huge fan of when people just say, “This is how I feel because I feel it and that’s the end of my story.” Conversations with him sometimes felt like a cross-examination. You know how in college they make you take a class on critical thinking? They should just charge you money and then have you sit in a room with Scott for a few weeks, like that guy in Ishmael. You won’t know any of the fancy philosophy terms for how to argue, but it won’t matter. I learned to argue almost exclusively from talking to Scott, and look how I turned out.

AND….. no matter WHAT the topic was, Scott always knew more about it than I did. NO MATTER WHAT.

So even when we were ‘on the outs’ with each other, we had to learn to find a way to deal with each other. In high school, a lot of the time, that meant that I walked on egg shells and tried to avoid the conflict as much as possible, which was impossible, because I would offhandedly say something interesting like, “I don’t really see why people being rich is such a bad thing. Don’t we all want to be rich?” Or, “Well I would never kill a cow, but they are so tasty, I can’t feel like it’s wrong to eat them.” And we would launch into a discussion that usually ended with me staring at my shoes and Scott being frustrated that I wasn’t clarifying what I meant.

Back then, I was really angry at him for that. I felt like he MADE me walk on egg shells, and like it was SO ARROGANT of him to not even ACKNOWLEDGE that things were awkward.

How ridiculous. As if Scott woke up in the morning and thought, “Who can I terrorize today?” Scott was not a bully. I tried to pretend that he was because it made ME feel better about not being confident, and not knowing what I really stood for or wanted. I don’t think I was one of those super manipulative girls in high school, but I am guilty of some double dealings– whereas Scott was always very straight-forward. This sounds like a backhanded thing to say, but I don’t mean it that way at all– I can see now that even if I felt he was being a jerk, at least he was being honest. AND I honestly think that he didn’t really care if I agreed with him or not, he just didn’t want ME not to care about what I really felt. Which is kind of a big deal.

HOW EMBARRASSING. It makes me a little ill when I think of my sixteen year old self, moping around the hallways of our high school, agreeing with Scott to avoid an argument, or disagreeing with him but letting it slide because I just didn’t want to be the cause of any awkwardness. I didn’t have enough faith in my friends that we could KEEP being friends if I caused friction, and I also didn’t have enough faith in myself that I could hold my ground.

But then, somewhere along the way, something really strange happened. Scott would push all my buttons, and instead of just stewing about it and being angry and talking about him behind his back, I started to push back.

And then, of course, I waited for the END OF THE WORLD, right? I kept waiting for the whole drama of our huge fight that would cause a rift in all our friends and it would be awkward every time I saw him and I would have to always defend myself, and OH GOD what if I passed him in the hallway, and what if we end up in the same car together when we all drive into the BIG CITY this weekend, and I JUST KNOW THAT THIS IS ALL GOING TO END IN ONE OF US GETTING FIREBOMBED.

I always say that one of my goals in adulthood is not to take myself as seriously as I did when I was a teenager. If I could go and talk to my teenage self and give her some advice, I would probably tell her to get a grip. IF YOU ARGUE WITH YOUR FRIENDS, NO ONE WILL DIE. EVEN IF THEY ARE MAD AT YOU FOR A FEW DAYS, YOU WILL GET OVER IT, AND THEY WILL GET OVER IT. OR YOU WILL GO OUT AND MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS. Man alive.

Only none of that happened. Instead, somehow, once I started pushing back, instead of our discourse being volatile, we started to gain some ground. We started to find out that we actually believed a lot of the same things; that we were interested in the same things, and that we liked the same things. I’d never met anyone else who was thisclose to having Jesus Christ Superstar memorized. And, you know. Other super important stuff.

AND something else happened– we disagreed A LOT. About A LOT of things. And that was okay. Even if we fought about it, it was okay. Even if I narrowed my eyes and said through gritted teeth, “That. Is. IT.” The next day– or sometimes, in a few days– we were fine. And most of that– MOST of that– was him, not me. A lot of the time, it was him deciding to just let it go. I mean, sometimes it was me. I just can’t think of an example at the moment.

My senior year was pretty terrible. A lot of it I don’t think about anymore because it’s really not relevant, and some of it I don’t think about because its really painful.

But the other day I was thinking about how, when Scott got accepted to an out of state school, it was like a kick in the gut. Of all my friends who were packing up and moving away– some of whom I would never be close with again– for some reason, it was really killing me that I could lose this great connection.

Obviously, I did not. If anything, we have a better friendship now than we did before; and we definitely understand each other better than we did then.What I learned specifically from the experience of keeping up with someone who moved away is that if you want to stay friends you will, but you can’t MAKE the friendship into something it’s not. Now Scott and I talk about once or twice a month and see each other a few times a year. Some of my old friends live within miles of my apartment, and we never see each other.

So what is the touchy-feely point of this embarrassing sobfest?

These days I spend a lot of time thinking about what things I wish for Maren– and of course, I hope that she has a lot of friends. But more than that, I hope that she has friendships that are meaningful. And by that, I hope that she makes friends with people that challenge her, piss her off, and make her grow.

Even though I think my daughter is perfect (and maybe BECAUSE I think she’s perfect), I hope that she ends up crossing paths with someone who shows her that she is not.

Even though it is obvious to ME that Maren is going to be THE BEST AT EVERYTHING, I hope that she gets the opportunity to compete with someone who makes her want to be better.

As much as I want to keep her safe from ALL pain, I hope that she meets someone who says something to her that is SO true about herself that it hurts to admit they are right.

And then I hope that this person sticks around, so that when she gets done with all the change-y stuff, she can keep being challenged and moving in that same direction with someone who can always remind her of how she USED to be, and how she doesn’t want to be that way again.

When she gets discouraged about the way her life is shaping up, obviously I will always be there to help her, support her, and tell her that she’s beautiful. I hope I can inspire her to always want more for herself, and to do better for the world, but lets face it– I’m just the crusty old parent. Maren’s job in life is to draw the map of where she wants to go, and my job is to hold the compass. I hope that she has someone in her life who can also hold up a mirror, to be sure that she likes the person that she is becoming as she moves from place to place. And maybe someone to help her make sure that where she is aiming is really where she wants to be.

And I also hope Maren pukes all over Scott’s shirt (I’ve gotta give my teenage self SOMETHING, most of the time all I do is roll my eyes at her…)

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Filed under Jump Into the Wayback Machine, Let's Be Besties

I came home and Mitch was calling his sister-in-law to tell her that we were engaged. He told her how he proposed, and she said, “Wait… did you get down on one knee?” He looked up at me with a look of sheer panic, and then said, “Aw, shit!”

When Mitch and I started dating, he was 18 and I was 21. Even at the time I could not freaking believe I was dating a teenager. And I’d like to say that, just so you know, Mitch was super mature for his age, but really? He wasn’t. He was really nice, and really sweet, and really genuine– but he was still just eighteen.

We had a rocky relationship for those first two-ish years. But, even so, when people ask me when I ‘knew’ I was in love with Mitch, I have come to the conclusion that I think I always knew. Lets be real– I spent three years spending almost every Friday and Saturday at hockey games. Me. A girl who hates sports, thinks aggression is lame, is not a fan of the cold, and gets frustrated while learning the rules to card games. If THAT’S not true love, then it doesn’t exist, friends.

I’ve all ready detailed about our make up/break up situations and how we had an extended break up, followed by a beautiful little love scene in which we decided that we were In It To Win It. So I pretty much knew that we were set. But still– if I may– even if it is stereotypical and a little silly and a little materialistic, there are few moments in my life quite as exciting as when we were walking past Zales at the mall and Mitch said, “Hey…. do you want to go in?”

Mitch bought my ring in January 2008 and asked me to marry him in March. What happened during those two months? Well I’ll tell you.
First, he had to ask my Dad for permission. This is funny, because, first of all, it’s not like my Dad really could GIVE permission. I’d been out of the house for 6 years at this point. Mitch and I were living together. And I’m not exactly the poster child for Honoring Thy Father in any case. If my Dad had said No, probably Mitch would have come home and ratted him out and my Dad would have gotten quite the phone call from his Little Princess that night. But Mitch is Mitch. And even though he certainly wants to do everything HIS WAY, he also wants to make sure that everything gets done THE RIGHT WAY.

So he called my Dad and asked him if they could have breakfast. This is one of those moments when I wish I could have been a fly on the wall– I’m sure that my Dad woke my Mom up and told her and she fretted around the house, because come on– what else could this mean?

Mitch and my parents haven’t always had the best of times. As aforementioned, when he came onto the scene, Mitch was 18. Do you remember being 18? I do. I thought I knew EVERYTHING. And have you met my parents? Because, the thing is, between the two of them, they actually DO know everything. I’ve been bringing boys home for many years before I met Mitch, and trust me, it’s not for the faint of heart. The word Vivisection comes to mind. But, you know, I was all in love and everything. So when I brought home my teenage, conservative, Junior Olympian (this is true!) boyfriend from North Dakota to meet my ultra-liberal, know-everything, hippie parents, things didn’t always go so well.

Luckily my parents have a fantastic sense of humor, and have never held a grudge in their lives. And also luckily, Mitch and I eventually loved each other enough to realize that we weren’t marrying each others families. The only person he needed to worry about being compatible with was me.

My mom has told me that she knew that This Was It long before he proposed to me. One night, almost a year prior, while Mitch and I were broken up (AND I was dating someone else) my brother and I got into a drunken argument after he made a quip about Mitch being a giant. I screwed up my face and glared at him and said, “Knock it off. Because I’m going to marry him.”

So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Mitch came calling. But still. I’ll bet it drove my Mom crazy that she hadn’t been invited along. But I bet she also wouldn’t have wanted to be there. She’s too Scandinavian for emotional displays. Especially first thing in the morning.

So Mitch and my Dad went out for breakfast at a little diner in my hometown. They sat down and ordered coffee, and Mitch lead with, “So…. how’s it going?”

And my Dad replied, “I approve.”

But that didn’t stop Mitch from giving his speech anyway. I don’t know what he said, exactly. Neither of them will tell me. But according to my Mom, my Dad was so touched– “so humbled” were her exact words– that when he came home he went into his room to think for awhile.

Must have been quite the buzz kill. I kid, I kid.

Anyway.

So now he had the ring, he had permission– I’d picked the damn ring out, so it’s not like I was going to say no– so all he had to do now was ask.

His first attempt was that weekend, at one of my brother’s concerts (have I told you that my brother is a rock star? He is. More on that some other time). He had the ring with him, and we were out on the dance floor, and he was going to be all, you know– I love you so much and you’re so wonderful, and oh let me tie my shoe, or something, and then whip out the ring.

Only…. well…. see…. the thing is…. there were lots of people…. and…. we’d had a lot to drink…. and…. everyone was watching…. so…..

His second attempt was Valentine’s Day. He made reservations at my favorite restaurant, bought me a digital photo frame, and loaded a bunch of pictures of us dating and kissing and loving each other, and then the last frame was going to be all “Will You Marry Me?” And stuff.

Only…. have I told you about Mitch’s time management skills? Not the best. Love him to pieces. But not the best.

So at 5:00, on the dot, he was at the bank, begging the teller to let him into the safe deposit box where I had put the ring a few weeks prior so that Mitch wouldn’t lose it (he’s also not the best at Not Losing Valuable Things). The teller explained to him that, sadly, she did not have access to that part of the bank.

“But….” he sputtered, “It’s Valentine’s Day.”And I’ll bet that in the movie in his mind, her heart grew three times its size, the teller broke down the door, and as the alarm sounded he grabbed our ring and made a break for it, through the rain, with heartwarming music swelling in the background. But the movie in the teller’s mind included her keeping her job. So it was a no-go.

I was only half-expecting him to propose that day. It’s pretty cliche, and I figured that he would think I was expecting it and that it would totally throw me off. So imagine my surprise when, on February 15th, my Mom called me and said,

“Has Mitch proposed yet?”

Um. No. No, mother, he has not. Why do you ask?

“Well he talked to your Dad a long time ago.”

Oh really?

Attempt number 3 was on some normal day in March. I came home from class to find Mitch making me chicken parmesan, all dressed up, candles lit, roses on the table.

“What’s all this?” I asked.

“Nothing.” He mumbled.

Did I mention that the meal was all ready finished? All ready plated? Cooling, in fact? And yet, my-then-boyfriend-soon-to-be-fiance was toasting bread and rolling it between his hands to make breadcrumbs. He had amassed a small mountain of bread crumbs all ready, and was working his way through the entire loaf of bread.

“Are you making more?” I asked him, staring at the feast of all-ready-breaded chicken in front of me.

“Nope.” He said, and continued to crumble bread. I don’t think he looked at me the entire meal.

The next morning, I woke up early for work. It was a teacher inservice day, and I was going to deep clean my classroom. So I was getting some supplies together, getting dressed in nasty sweats, and packing some snacks. Mitch came out into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing.

“Packing up.” I said, and launched into some story about how my kids liked to paint with their boogers, and even though the custodian was a very nice man, I wasn’t sure that those boogers were sanitized. I mean, I understood that they were NEVER COMING OFF THE WALL, but could they at least be sanitized? And in the meantime, there’s the green Jello that just won’t come off the FLOOR–

And then I stopped talking, because Mitch was doing this thing where he stood very close to me and stared at me without blinking. Like Max from Where the Wild Things Are, taming the monsters.

“I have something for you to take to work.” He said finally.

“Ok.” I said slowly.

He took a deep breath, and pulled the ring out from behind his back.

I did one of those girl things– one third sigh, one third scream, one third sob– and looked back up at him. He took my hand and put the ring in my palm and then said,

“I need to know. Are you going to marry me or not?”

Eloquence, always, with this one. Sheer poetry.

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“Let us hope that we are each preceded in this life by a love story.” -Don Snyder, Of Time and Memory

Like all girls raised on Disney, I am a connoisseur of love stories. I try to fake it like I am not all mushy and gushy, but for real, probably I have cream filling, and it’s likely that I could have been covered in sprinkles in a past life. And before that, it’s possible that I was a puppy. Or a daffodil.

Something that I look forward to with my own daughter is telling her about how her Dad and I met and fell in love. I wonder which parts I will edit out for content and which parts I might embellish a little to make myself or Mitch seem a little more romantic– I mean, I’m a good story teller and all, but just how angels-singing-in-the-heavens can you make meeting up at a costume party, being unable to change a tire, and going back to someone’s dorm (which may be one of those things I edit out until she’s older. And even when she’s older, I will definitely put in this disclaimer: I GOT VERY VERY LUCKY. DON’T BE STUPID.)

I’m still working on that one.

But as I have been thinking about the love story that preceded my daughter, I started thinking about the love story that preceded myself.

These are my parents– circa the late seventies. I’ve heard that this picture was taken on their wedding day, but that is at this point, unconfirmed. It’s not really important. What is important to note is that A) I have no memories of my Dad’s chin, although his beard is slightly shorter now, and B) although I did inherit my Mom’s love for poetry, foreign languages, and comparative religion, I did not inherit her figure. Thanks loads, Ma.

Here is something that I love about my parent’s love story. It is so, so authentic. If I were going to write an honest to goodness biography on my parents, I would probably end up ripping off my arms and beating myself to death with them. There are huge, immense gaps in the story. It’s impossible to nail down a timeline. My mom is very rarely forthcoming, and my Dad has such a flair for the dramatics that you never know which story was the REAL story and which story is my Dad’s fantastic invention of history.

I’ve had lots of friends tell me that my parents are unreal. Like if they hadn’t actually met them in real life, they would think that they were myths. I have met them in real life and they still seem a little mythological to me.

Jump into the wayback machine with me– the way, way, way back machine. It is the late 60s. My Mom is 18 and going to band practice with her husband, her high school sweetheart. My Dad is 14, a farm kid from Western Nebraska who is much too smart for his own good, and is trying to crash this rock band with his mad guitar skills. He came down to meet my mom’s husband, who was in the band, and, by proxy, he met my Mom.

I’ve heard him tell this story a hundred times. Probably a thousand. He always looks at my mom at this part of his re-telling and says, “And I thought, That’s the woman I’m going to marry.” And my sister and I always look at my Mom and say, “Did you think he was handsome? Did you smile at him? Did he sweep you off your feet?” And my mom would roll her eyes at us silly girls.

“He was a kid.” She says, “I barely noticed him.”

Over the next several years, my Dad was able to rock his way into the band and become best friends with my Mom. They even lived in a hippie commune together, which means that a bunch of people tried to be socialists in our little bitty repressed town. Most of the stories from these times have been edited or not even shared with us, but now that we’re grown up, occasionally you will hear my Dad begin a story with, “Back in The Falling Towers days…” (which was the name of their first commune), or “Back when we were with S&G….” (which is the name of their second commune. It stood for Sodom and Gomorrah). But largely, during these times they did what most hippies did in the seventies. I’ve seen pictures. It looks exactly like you think it would.

By this time, my mom had had her first daughter, Evenstar. And yes, she is named for the Tolkein character, Arwen Evenstar. Now that I’m expecting my own daughter, I keep trying to find a name that is at least halfway as cool. But there’s kind of no way.  The bar is set pretty high.

Also at some point here, my Mom and her first husband divorced. I don’t know a lot about this; and even if I did I wouldn’t share. I do have SOME boundaries.

The point being– if this was Disney, my Dad would be able to just swoop in, right? That’s how they do it on all the after school specials.

Sadly for my Dad, not so much. One of the sweetest stories we’ve heard from this time is that my Mom would ask my Dad to set her up with some of his friends. When she told us this, my sister and I were aghast. “Mom, how could you be so mean?” She laughed and replied, “I also had him babysit.” I remember turning my shocked gaze at my Dad, who did not look hurt at all.

“It was worse when she DIDN’T have me babysit.” He explained. “Because then I wasn’t even INVOLVED.”

Obviously, at some point, they probably have some really beautiful proposal story in which my Dad wore a kaftan or something and wrote her a song and then they wrote in their journals about it while they tended their pet rocks. Alas, no.

I’ve asked my Dad a couple times how he proposed to my Mom. I get a different response every time. This is because he proposed to her all the time. Every chance he got.You kind of have to know my Dad to get a real sense of the dramatics here, but I imagine that at no point since she met him did my Mom ever have a chance to forget that my Dad wanted to marry her.

But first, my Mom had to come around.

Even though it might not be the most romantic thing ever, my Dad was actually dating someone else while he carried a torch for my Mom. It was the 70s. Love the one you’re with, right?

My mom says that she and my Dad’s girlfriend were shopping and there was a big Christmas tree at the mall, and a Dad was kneeling next to his two children, explaining to them what Christmas was all about.

“Look at that,” My Dad’s current girlfriend said, “I just know that Vince is going to be a Dad just like that.”

“Oh, sure.” My Dad’s future wife said. And in her head she thought, He’s mine.

My mom always smiles at this part of the story and then says to her daughters, “Ladies, don’t advertise your man.”

The timeline here is very hazy. But at some point, my mom told one of their mutual friends that if he ran into Vince, she needed to talk to him. This was in the pre-Twitter days, so I imagine it took a few days.

The movie in my head shows my Dad running through town, probably in the rain, and the  music swells, and the lighting is perfect, and my Mom comes out of the house and jumps into his arms and they twirl in the front yard.

So of course, as a kid, I asked my Dad what he did when he heard. And he laughs and says, “I got drunk. And I mean– MAJORLY drunk.”

He got all drunk and then made his way over to my Mom’s house. He says that he came onto her porch and started yelling for her to come out and tell him what needed to be said; and I’m sure that he was building himself up for terrible news.

And my Mom came out and said, “Okay.”

That’s it. They were engaged– in a very organic, seventies kind of way.

My parents always finish the story in the same way. Dad says, “So I went into the house.” And Mom shoots back, “And he NEVER LEFT.”

Maybe Hollywood wouldn’t necessarily go for it. And even if they did, they’d never get the Kris Kristoffersen rambling story telling of my Dad, or the Joni Mitchell bury-everything-in-a-metaphor story telling of my Mom. But when I play it in my head, it is one of the most romantic stories I’ve ever heard.

Here is my memory to wrap this all up.

When Mitch went to ask my Dad’s permission to marry me, he was so nervous that he didn’t know what to say. He had a whole speech prepared. They sat down for breakfast, and Mitch began with,

“How are you doing, sir?”

And my Dad smiled and said,

“I approve.”

Then he said, “And I’ll tell you something– she’s just like her Mom. When she’s mad– and I know that she can get MAD– and she is aiming that huge vocabulary at you– and she tells you just to get the hell out…. just…. DON’T. And that is the secret to a successful marriage.”

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Sometimes people ask me how the wedding planning is going. After I finish sauteeing the jelly in their eyeballs, they tend not to ask anymore.

Mitch and I were officially engaged in March of 2008. We had a very tumultuous relationship for the first two years or so, took a break, got back together, took another break, and then got together for dinner one night– I called it our Make It or Break It Night. And I wish I knew the day that happened, because in my heart, that’s really when Mitch and I got married.

I won’t disclose all the juicy tidbits (they weren’t that juicy anyway: we were at Panera. How juicy can things get at Panera?). But I will say that when “IT” happened, we were holding hands across the table and I said, “If we do this…. we are in this for good. I can’t go through another break up with you. I can’t stand to lose you again. So if this is it…. then this is it.” And when I looked up, my wonderful husband had tears in his eyes and told me he loved me for the first time.

But committing to someone and marrying them are not really the same thing, as we found out over the next three years. By the time we became officially engaged (a little over 18 months later), we thought we had everything all set in stone. Small wedding here in Nebraska, one attendant for each of us, an hors douerve reception following.

Let me preface this by again reiterating that “GETTING MARRIED” was never part of my PLAN. And thus, “HAVING A WEDDING” was never part of the PLAN either. I love weddings, I love helping my girlfriends plan them, I love looking at pictures, I love hearing the stories. But OH MY GOD was I dreading my own. For one thing, whenever I am thrust into a social situation, I wish that I could submit a written entry representing myself. Me is not so good at the talkies. For two, I have never felt my best when I’m all dressed up. Some ladies get that extra boost of confidence when they are dressed to the nines. Not this lady. Whenever I am wearing something other than jeans and a black t-shirt, I am positive that 1) Everyone is staring at me and 2) I look exactly like a peacock. Which is fine, if you are a peacock. I am not.

For three, to be honest, the wedding was for Mitch. I wasn’t sure how I felt about weddings. I wanted to marry Mitch– I wanted to make some kind of crazy non-negotiable, permanent and irreversible commitment to him. But to me, saying that we loved each other while eating our broccoli cheddar soup and frontega chicken panini’s was enough. I didn’t need anything more than that.

Mitch, though, is one of the few men in the world who had actually been looking forward to his wedding for some time. I think that part of this is because he is very close with his extended family (which I am not), and having a wedding was just another excuse to get them all together. For two, Mitch comes from a world of conventional thought. Lots of times through pointed discussion and lots of guided questions, I could get him to see how some of his views didn’t even make as much sense as the ones he was prejudice against (such as: okay, so you think that some women getting together and figuring out that if they put this herb and this root together, it makes their headache go away, and they think that is pretty sweet and base a religion off of it, OR millions of people basing their beliefs on a thousand year old conversation had with a flaming shrub. But I digress), the idea of not having a wedding was too out there for him. He understood that saying vows in front of a bunch of people didn’t necessarily make them more valid, more important, or more real, but he still felt that it was necessary.

Well.

The first thing that happened is that my hometown has virtually no where to have a reception. There was one reception hall that was currently being built; but neither of us wanted to take a chance on a building that we had never seen, and would never see, until that day. There is a very nice reception hall in town, but I wasn’t able to get a hold of the owner.

The next thing that happened is my home church in Blair said that Mitch’s grandpa, a Lutheran pastor, could not perform the ceremony. Then they also said that I couldn’t have ANY of the songs that I wanted and had to run any readings by them as well– even if they were from the Bible.

THEN I met with my academic adviser, who told me that I was going to graduate in August 2009. The wedding date was August 22, 2009. And we were planning to move to Bemidji, Minnesota (which ended up falling through anyway, but that’s another story for another time). This means I’d be finishing up with student teaching, graduating, getting married, and moving all within the span of about two weeks.

And let me also tell you this, for those of you who are thinking of planning a wedding sometime soon. When you have some idea in your head, and you want to run it past your Mom, or your Pastor, or your Husband To Be, or whatever, and everyone tells you, “Just be straight forward and be very direct and tell them that this is how you want it. They’ll understand.” Just save yourself the time of having THAT conversation by looking the person who told you everything would be fine right in the face and calling them a liar right where they sit. You could punctuate this exchange with some spit in their eye, but that might be taking it too far.

Don’t get me wrong. Everyone involved with our wedding was extremely helpful. But to say that everyone was gung-ho with whatever plans I had in my head is such a vast and complicated Desert of Untruthiness that it makes me shake my head all over again.

The thing is, weddings are really emotional for everyone involved. For your parents: (especially in my case) they’d been thinking about this day a LOT longer than I had. Even though my parents are very unconventional, and eloped themselves, I know that when my mom first met me on November 25, 1983, in the back of her head there were some thoughts about when I would grow up and fall in love. I know this, because I am currently carrying a little girl, and Mitch and I have all ready talked about her growing up and falling in love. And Mitch has all ready gotten emotional about it. I love him, he’s so silly.

For your Pastor (especially in our case, since he was also Mitch’s grandpa), she/he has some definite plans on what constitutes A WEDDING and what does not. And for him, the implications go beyond just that day and hour. Mitch and I both wanted a wedding that was very spiritual and meaningful, but not necessarily RELIGIOUS. This is because most of my family and at least 98% of my friends are not religious. Some of them are anti-religious. And I knew it would be uncomfortable for them, and to be honest, weird for me, to have a religious ceremony. Also, we were having a really hard time finding music and readings that were religious and that also encompassed what we were going for.

Your attendants, even though they love you dearly, are also in kind of a weird spot. It’s not THEIR wedding, so technically, they kind of have no say over what they do and what they wear and all that. But they are also about to be standing up in front of 100+ people– I put my bridesmaids in halter top, tea length dresses, in May, in Minnesota. It ended up working out, but only because we were given the ONE Memorial Day weekend in remembered history that had a temperature of over 50. And I also roped my brother-in-law into singing our processional kind of at the last minute. And I also thought it would be super cute to have my 6 year old nephew walk his mom (my maid of honor) down the aisle and then stand with her during the ceremony (and it was super cute, but probably pretty stressful for them. Have you ever seen a 6 year old boy try to stand still for 45 minutes?)

Before anyone is a bride, they should have to serve time as a bridesmaid. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, myself, or I might have realized all the Emotional Crazies that go into weddings. By the time we actually got to the ceremony, I was literally begging Mitch to call it off. And not because I was particularly upset about anything specifically, just because the Emotional Crazies were so high that I thought I was going to suffocate.

Here is some more advice. If you are one of those really laid back ladies who thinks that you can plan a wedding and it will all be okay and no problem, and you won’t let yourself get sucked into the Crazies, just go ahead and let go of that dream right now. It was literally shocking how invested I became in my wedding. How the littlest thing suddenly became super important– how I could not compromise on some things and wouldn’t discuss some things. I vaguely remember actually stamping my foot at Mitch and saying, “BECAUSE. JUST…. BECAUSE.” And I remember my brother having to smooth things over between myself and other family members by saying, “Dude, it’s her day. Just let her have this one day. Please. I promise she will go back to normal on Sunday. For now, whatever she says goes.”

And also, this is a fact. One of my mottoes in life is that a woman’s life is about 8 parts mess to 2 parts magical. That magic is definitely enough to make all the mess worth it, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Most of planning the wedding was stressful and disappointing. Even parts of that day were stressful and disappointing.

But in the end…. we did fulfill priority number one.

Someday, Skirty will look through all of our wedding photos, her eyes agleam. She might want to try on my dress, although I am hoping that my daughter won’t be cursed with my figure, and maybe she’ll get all starry eyed at the thought of THE DRESS, THE KISS, THE DANCE– or maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll be more like me, and won’t give it much thought until it is right there in front of her.

Either way, I hope that she comes out of it with the best thing that comes out of weddings. Lots of happiness, and lots of love.

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This week, I have been so tired that I was afraid I might start shedding body parts. All the cells in my body would get together and discuss which parts of me could be saved, and which were expendable. Like whatever muscles you use for a sexy walk. I wasn’t using those, anyway.

I am truly not trying to pull a pity card when I say this: I never thought that I would get married.

I dated a lot in high school, and I suppose I dated a lot in college, too, although by then I was pretty burnt out on boys and just really liked to party and read good books, write not-so-good poetry, and sing karaoke. Sometimes, when I am particularly pleased with him, I will tell Mitch that he is everything that I was ever looking for. And he always rolls his eyes and replies, “Whatever. You weren’t even looking.” And he’s totally right.

Mitch met me at a very interesting point in my life. I had just come out of a pretty long and dramatic relationship with a guy who ended up marrying THE OTHER WOMAN, which, I mean, I suppose is fair because in reality, I was the other woman. I just like to pretend that I was the one who got spurned, for one because I was heart broken, but also because it is a lot more classy. But all that drama aside, in the end, by the time Mitch came along, I really just enjoyed being single. I really liked hanging out with myself. Never get bored, never get lonely. I never had a problem going to movies on my own, going out to eat alone– although I vastly preferred picking something up and renting a movie that I could watch while snuggled into my pillows on my vastly over-sized bed. I have been told that I’m a flirt, and I think that I enjoyed flirting, but for the most part what I really enjoyed was forgetting that most relationships between the opposite sex were supposed to have some kind of a sexual drive behind them. The first time Mitch spent the night at my house, I asked him to wait in the hall while I ran in and moved all the books off the side of my bed, and even so, when he got into bed there was a Spanish Dictionary and a volume of Lorca poetry under the pillow that I’d forgotten about. Sometimes when we first started dating he would complain about something– like dishes in the sink or the fact that I did not own a vacuum. These are things that would have sent me into a complicated and near comatose condition for a few days ordinarily, but at that point in my life, I was so done trying to impress men that I just shrugged at him and told him that if he was so worried about it, he could buy me a vacuum and wash my dishes. And he did, and still does sometimes (be jealous if you want. I probably would be, too). But here is the thing… as in, the point I am awkwardly circling today– I enjoyed being a single adult. I loved having my own apartment, I loved coming home to an empty house, I loved not fighting about plans that night and not having to get to know all of Mr. Flavor-Of-The-Moments friends and family, because sometimes I ended up thinking his friends were way cooler than him, and in general I don’t really like meeting new people anyway. I loved my beautiful, simple, unattached adult life.

However.

Being a single teenager seemed like the closest thing to Hell imaginable. I blame the media (one drunken night freshmen year of college I watched way too much TBS and started blaming Dawson’s Creek for everything wrong in my life). I clearly remember in 9th grade when it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to just go out with every guy who asked me, I could pick and choose which guys I actually wanted to spend time with. But I was a sophomore in college before I realized that not only could I pick and choose who to spend time with, I could also choose NOT to go out with anyone.

Mitch and I are now coming to the end of Baby Watch 2010 and entering a very short time period called “Advent Baby,” and one of these days you will check on my blog, in frustration, banging your coffee cup on your coffee table wondering why I haven’t updated. And then in a few days, I will probably climb out of my haze of sleep deprivation, leaky boobs, and a sore uterus long enough to type something with zero wit and poor sentence structure that basically says,

“Am a mom. She is beautiful.”

When we found out we were pregnant, everyone thought it was a boy. Myself included. Even my mom, who is sometimes a psychic. The four of us (Mitch, my mom, myself, and my huge uterus) trooped into the ultrasound at 24 weeks and all of us predicted that I was carrying a little David Michael or Vaclav Steven, depending on which of us you’d ask, and then she put the wand on me and said, “Well… those right there?” And we all craned our necks and I could have sworn she about to point to my child’s face, and instead she said, “That’s labia.”

I looked straight to my husband, who had all ready expressed his complete and utter fear of girls, and realized that he didn’t know what labia was. In fact, he probably was waiting for someone to say, “Oh no. LABIA. That is very, very bad news.”

My mom gasped, and I breathed, “Girl.” At around the same time that the tech said, “You’ll be having a baby girl!” And I started crying like a baby (well… not really like a baby. It was more like I was crying like a Mother). And of course I was excited– I come from a family of three girls and one very fierce mom, a feminist Dad and feminist brother, and consider myself to be a pretty strong woman who knows lots of other very strong women and I was all ready making plans for pink and black tutus and rock n roll themed birthday parties, and telling her that if she wanted to learn how to box, that was absolutely fine with me….

However….

I’ll admit that I don’t know what it’s like to be a boy, having never been one myself. I have had enough friendships with boys, and know enough about child psychology, to know that we ALL went through that same awkward, terrible period that some people call ADOLESCENCE– even the word sounds ominous– and that boys often times felt just as rejected, just as alone, just as pressured as girls. But I can only speak from my experience as a girl, because that’s all I know.

Dude, let me tell you. Being a teenage girl really, really blows.

A few years ago, my friend Melissa and I decided that we were going to reclaim our youth. This ended up meaning that we spent a summer drinking a lot, passing out in weird places– at one point we burned things that our ex-boyfriends had given us– we danced on tables a lot and made the men around us feel very, very uncomfortable. It was a fantastic summer. But the thing is– neither of us did that when we were young. If I were going to honestly ‘reclaim my youth’ it would involve a lot of being interested in guys who ended up trying to date my friends, crying myself to sleep, and wondering what was so wrong with me. And, although she has never really said this to me, I think that Melissa’s youth involved a lot of turning down skeezy guys that she didn’t want to date, or trying to find the least skeezy of them all to date for awhile, until we could graduate and move out of the world’s most repressed Midwestern town and discover that there was a whole wide world out there, and some of those boys WEREN’T skeezy guys, they were MEN.

I was that girl that was always on the Friend List. That drove me crazy, as it does everyone else who has ever been deemed ‘The Best Friend’ but never ‘The Girlfriend.’ More like a Wingman than a Prom Date. I spent at least three years of high school totally in love with one guy who was constantly asking me to hook him up with my friends, and ended up kind of dating a circle around me (including a few month period where I swear he was interested in my sister). As if I had a sign on my head that said ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNDESIRABLE, HAS NO FEELINGS, BASICALLY JUST A DOORMAT.

I am grateful everyday that I got to a place with myself in my early twenties when I could care less about dating. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I went through a completely blissful period where I was pretty heartless when it came to men, and was very clear that I was enjoying myself and having a good time. I think I even told one guy that I wasn’t looking for anything serious; that I preferred a more ‘organic’ connection. For awhile, I supposed I was pretty skeezy. I had times when I was not very proud of myself, but WAY WAY WAY more times when I was incredibly proud of myself. I never once had a moment of feeling like I COULDN’T get a boyfriend if I wanted one, and I never had a moment where I felt like I NEEDED to be part of a set. It was the first time in my life that I was completely centered on being myself and moving towards my own goals. It was incredibly empowering. And incredibly freeing.

At this point, most of my maternal fears are centered around my daughter being healthy when she is born. But as the day gets closer, I find myself more and more thinking about how awful growing up was, and how much I wish I could instill in her a little more of the attitude I had in college. I don’t ever want my daughter having a perfectly Molly Ringwald inspired moment, sitting in front of her mirror crying because she thinks she isn’t pretty. I don’t ever want my daughter to have to have a conversation with her Prom Date about how he’d much rather take her best friend, and she lets him and smiles and says that it’s totally okay, without at least pitching a monumental fit involving the words, “Oh NO, you go right ahead and go with her, because I have BETTER things to do, and YOU, sir, are CRAMPING MY STYLE!”

One of my most precious memories came in my sophomore year of high school. I’d been asked to Prom– which of course was such a big deal– and then my date stood me up. The pictures from that day are so sad it’s comical. Here’s me, getting my dress on, getting my hair done, waiting at the door….. waiting…. waiting….. and then changing into my pajamas. My Dad kind of lost it a little– which is kind of shocking, if you know my Dad. As far as I know, he couldn’t care less about Prom. In fact, I’m pretty sure that by the time I was a teenager, my Dad was pretty sick of the whole teenage girl scene. No one hates drama as much as my Dad. But when I went and put on my pajamas, he went a little crazy. He made me put my dress back on, re-apply my make up, and kind of forced me into the van and drove me there himself. He walked me to the door and told the attendants my name and that I was coming in. “Is her date here?” The guy asked (because at my high school, sophomores had to be accompanied by their junior or senior date in order to attend Prom. Fascists).

“Nope.” My Dad said, glaring at the football coach and taking me by the elbow to walk me to the door. One hundred percent my total hero. “But she’s going in. Have a good time, honey!”

It’s unavoidable, I know. No one gets through ADOLESCENCE without feeling like they are dying of a terminal case of the Lonelies. The best that I can do is let her know that when she sets sail on the Sea of Crazy that is puberty, her Dad and I are there to hold her compass, chart her progress, and tell her everything we know about the dangers of the sea and her intended destination– and keep whispering into her hair at night that we promise, promise, promise– IT GETS SO SO SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS.

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Disney made me think that when I met my husband, it would involve unicorns and harp music. Dragon slaying at the very least.

I met my husband in August 2004. I actually remember the first time I talked to him– but not because it was some beautiful, angels come down singing out of the clouds or anything like that, and I guarantee that Mitch has forgotten all about it. I really only remember it because I laughed about it with my friends later, at Mitch’s expense.

I was 20, a junior in college, president of the concert choir at my college– which, obviously, made me the most important person in the world. In fact, when I rewind memories from that year, it’s almost hard to see anything else because I have to look around the giant chip on my shoulder. Probably they could see my head from space. It’s possible that small children seeking shade would rest beneath the shadow cast from my enormously inflated ego, where the temperature had to be at least 20 degrees cooler, since the sun was no competition for my frenzied self-importance.

One of the super duper important duties that I had as concert choir president was to order polos for everyone that had our concert choir logo on it so that we all matched when we went to places to perform. This was oh-so-important. And of course– every year– those silly freshmen just didn’t quite comprehend just how important it was that we all have POLOS THAT MATCH. OTHERWISE, WHEN WE PERFORM, WE WILL LOOK SOOO SOOO DUMB AND THEY MIGHT THINK WE ARE ACTUALLY JUST A BUNCH OF COLLEGE KIDS, FAKING IT LIKE WE ARE PROS. SOME OF THOSE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MIGHT SUDDENLY REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL REALLY ONLY ABOUT 16 MONTHS OLDER THAN THEM AND ONLY SLIGHTLY SMARTER. THE FACADE WOULD BE SOOOO BROKEN!

And THAT, my friends, would have been the REAL tragedy.

So on this day in fall of 2004, I happened to make some big announcement about how I was going to personally hunt down every single person who still owed me 23.50 for polos. They were all freshmen. And one of them was Mitch.

I’d never talked to Mitch before, but I had noticed him. This is because my friend Heidi and I were talking about how when we travel to other schools we always check out the guys in the other choirs, like all music students who are very serious about their craft. “Who would you check out, if you were visiting here?” I asked her, and we both looked back dubiously over our hunting grounds.

“Mitch, in the tenor section.” She said, pointing with her chin him, who at this point was in the middle of some song that I can’t remember. Sometimes I like to make believe like they were singing something totally heavenly, so that at least I can have THAT part of the Disney miracle that we were all promised as children. Probably they were singing scales. “See him?”

Well, of course I could see him. The kid was a giant. He stood head and shoulders above everyone else in the choir, one of those guys that my Dad would have called a brick-shit-house. Broad shoulders, muscles, the whole bit– looked like a football player. Super blonde. Lifted his eyebrows and tilted his chin down when he sang, and produced a really very impressive tenor tone, you know, for a freshman non-major. That’s the kind of crap that us music students said to each other to disguise the fact that most of us felt extremely inadequate, because we had no fall-back and were only slightly better than most people at our chosen career. I’m not so self-deprecating to say that I’m not a good singer, because I know that I am, but it was always a little disheartening when someone like Mitch came along; some kid who was so good at SOMETHING ELSE that he chose to make a career out of it, but who also just so happened to be so chock full of musical talent that he thought he’d sing in a very selective choir JUST FOR FUN.

Had I known I was going to reproduce with the guy, I would have been much more excited about this find.

But none of that was really what I noticed about him that day. When he lifted his eyebrows, even from the cheap seats I could see that he had the most piercing, sincere blue eyes I’d ever seen. He caught us looking at him, glanced in our direction, caught my eye, and then looked back at the conductor.

“Yup.” I said, staring a little dreamily at my future husband. “I see him.”

A few weeks later, I marched up to him, carrying a clip board. A clip board, for God’s sake. His name was on my list– highlighted– because he hadn’t paid for HIS POLO. EVEN THOUGH HE HAD ONE HANGING IN HIS CLOSET. It was almost enough to make my concert choir president head explode, and all those small children resting in the shade of my huge ego would have to go seeking shelter elsewhere.

He was standing in the auditorium with the director and some other guy. But I’m the lady with the ginormously important job, right? I have NO PROBLEM interrupting ANYONE.

So I looked up at him. “Mitch,” I said, “You haven’t paid for your polo yet. I need that money asap.” I actually freaking said ASAP like it was a word, like the syrup that comes off of trees. And I wasn’t kidding. Like I said, I am sure that Mitch has forgotten about this encounter, because if he hadn’t, he would have fallen on the floor laughing when the thought of dating me crossed his mind. Unless he has a thing for clipboards and bossy ladies. Which is possible.

“Oh.” He said, this poor kid. While the choir director and some other guy looked at us. So Mitch turned around and said, “Dad… can I have 23.50?”And this other guy– who I now realized was very obviously definitely related to Mitch– reached into his pocket for some money.

I didn’t know I was going to marry the kid. I still operating under ‘THE PLAN’ wherein I would be moving to Italy in the next few months and learning how to write sonnets in a leather bound journal while looking very pensive and important. But even if I did, I still probably would have hassled him about my damn 23.50. But maybe I would have pretended not to notice when he had to ask his Dad for it. And probably, I would have had the grace not to tell my girlfriends about it at lunch that day, laughing over my french fries at how embarrassed the freshman was, while I sat there with his Dad’s check folded in my pocket.

Not exactly the Disney Miracle that we’ve all been raised to look for. But I’d take my love story any day. When they cast the voice-over, I’m hoping for someone who sounds hot…. and not bossy.

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