We’ll Always Have Paris: On Hanging In

T&D happy in parisWhat Mindy Kaling says about her parents’ marriage is all well and good but are WE pals, the many rest-of-us coupled up and marching together in life? Based on my experience, here’s how you can tell:

You’re pals if you started married life thinking it was funny to throw cups of cold water from the bathroom sink over the shower curtain and onto your spouse, all nice and toasty and soaped up in there.

You’re pals if, even decades later, you both still laugh when one of you reaches for the drinking cup while the other is just stepping into the shower

The two of you are pals if you say nothing about the fact that a CERTAIN PERSON in the marriage never, ever wipes off the sink after shaving, leaving puddles that drip down to leave white marks on that nice wooden vanity you had to really stretch to buy.  (You used to say plenty about this habit, but your remarks had no effect so you gave up. “Pick your battles,” wise older souls have told you all along and now you get what that means.

You’re pals if that person says nothing about the fact that for some reason you can no longer cook a meal without opening all the doors to the kitchen cabinets and then leaving them open. (It’s a mystery why you do this. “Creative ferment?” you try telling your spouse, who just gives you that studiedly neutral look on seeing them and before quietly going around shutting them all.

You’re pals – and you can stay pals – if you can master this neutral look, as it is far safer than a smile, which can be seen as a smirk, or a gloat, or what it usually is: the ill-fitting mask for a scowl.

In fact in the name of marital accord you must ban many looks, from the I-Told-You-So look to the I’m-a-Saint-For Putting-Up-With-You look. Facial expressions like these send malevolent veils out into air that twist and curl and choke off all good will in a marriage.

Kaling says no, she never did see her parents gazing into one another’s faces – unless perhaps her mom was administering drops to her dad’s eyes. She says gazing isn’t necessary when you are pals and I think she’s right. If you hang in long enough to become pals you can tell how the other one’s day has been, just at a glance.

When I first got married, my mom started referring to my husband as ‘Silent Sam,’ as a joke, just because, unlike the rest of us in the family, he didn’t feel the need to talk until his listeners all lapsed into comas. Maybe I too wished he talked more at first, but after a time I began to ‘get’ him.

I remember thinking he didn’t care that much for our little cat – until after she went missing for several days. Then one morning she suddenly popped out of the bushes. “Here she is!” he cried from where he stood in our driveway and just for a second I saw his knees buckle with relief.

I think Mindy’s exactly right: Spend enough time living right close to people and you can’t help starting to love them . And gazing and pretty speeches hardly come in to it at all.

Oh and that’s us, above . November of 2004, Paris. Gooood time!

8 thoughts on “We’ll Always Have Paris: On Hanging In

  1. O.K. So it looks like you’re at a Paris car wash and you’ve got a bottle of (booze?) sticking out of your pocket.
    Just WHAT the hell is going on here?
    Oh, speaking of looks and glances, that sly look on your face tells me maybe it IS booze! 😉
    This blog summed up my relationship almost perfectly. I say almost because I’m waiting for her silent screaming phase to end.
    I’d like to wish you and your Family a very happy and blessed Easter ‘T’.
    Peace Out.

    1. I want to hear more aout the silent screaming phase, hafta try that sometime ha ha.
      That car wash: it’s the Pompidou Center. Found a review of it that says “The sad thing about the Centre Georges Pompidou in Beaubourg, Paris, is that it is indescribably ugly. Its ugliness was scandalous when the centre opened in 1977 because its architecture ‘features’ garishly painted exposed pipes, external stairs, escalators and ducts, and an industrial style that does not fit at all with the surrounding 18th century district. Its ugliness is hard to describe, and impossible to beat.” How’s THAT?!

      The bottle was sparkling water ; we had had a lot of wine at lunch 🙂

      1. The ‘silent screaming will wreck your head worse than 50,000 decibels, with NO sound! It’s the look, the smirk, the mannerisms, the posture and the vibe. Sorta like filling a clear bottle with different colored sands; it’s beautiful and you stare at it, mesmerized by it’s silent colors and unassuming patterns. You’re staring at an ethereal miasma of hypnotic heaven. Then, you realize……there is a cherry bomb in the center and the fuse is lit!
        If I went to Paris for two weeks, I would see Notre Dame for ten minutes and the rest of the time I’d be at the Lourve; one week looking around and the rest of the time staring at Edvard Munch’s “The Scream!
        In the picture, your faces say you were having a great time……good for you. 🙂

  2. Dear old pals, jolly old pals, staying together in all kinds of weather, dear old pals, jolly old pals, here at Fernwood Camp!

  3. Thanks to my Hubbard Hall writing group member Diane for linking your blog to her site. It’s how I got here and after seeing a lot of familiar territory it’s the reason I’ll be back. I’ve been with my pal for decades and I am finally learning to close a cabinet door. She also receives flowers in preparation for things I am sure to do wrong tomorrow. We are a work in progress for some four decades.
    An incurable puddler

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