What is it that binds people in marriage, really? I wonder this often. Especially I wonder it after yet another tussle with my mate over whose turn is it this time to clean the cat-vomit from the rug where an artsy feline of ours likes to ‘work,’ creating colorful collages of grass and fur and mouse parts, all bound in a matrix of recycled cat-chow. What is the agent, that cat-chow-like, holds couples together? 

For some maybe it’s the flowers and greeting cards that bind people like duct tape over the years of birthdays and anniversaries. For some it’s the vows alone maybe. What I think really holds couples together? Shared moments of humor. For me the real glue comes from the laughs you have, which hold  you together not like duct tape (stickily)  or like Superglue (permanently)  but more like the scratchy kiss of Velcro, which by its nature binds like to unlike.

Study Velcro up  close and you’ll see it: A zillion tiny hooks catch a zillion tiny loops and there it is: the good firm fit, the yin and the yang, the unification of opposites. So too, my mate and I are vastly different. While I sleep like the dead at night, he has trouble sleeping at all and says he ponders shaving my eyebrows off or drawing whiskers on my face as I snooze on, oblivious to all. Me, I can‘t sleep mornings. By 5:30 I’m up, organizing the world and running loads of wash. I can’t stand to see others indulging the sleep-late habit, which to me shows weakness of character.

He claims I barge in and make the bed, even while he’s still in it but I deny it. Much humor in marriage arises from denying the obvious.

Another difference between us, between many men and women in fact: Men like teasing and find it funny. Women hate teasing and find it cruel.

Old Dave and I were brushing our teeth together one day lately and when he got done he leaned down, as is his habit since boyhood, to slurp water directly from the faucet.

“What are you, 12?” I said, pointing to the two nice ruby-tinted tumblers. “When will you start using one of the cups?!”  “Never,” he answered. “The cats drink from them.”

That stopped me for less than a second. “Only from yours,” I said,  thinking, “Ho! This wiseguy stuff ain’t just for the fellas.”  

The truth is, we get a kick out of our differences. And, after all this time, we’ve stopped trying to change each other.  So big deal, we’re apples and oranges, hooks and loops. So we pull away from each other with a good rip now and then. The laughs we have join us up again. 

Old Dave in days of yore. The poor guy didn’t stand a chance

Happy Anniversary

Well it’s my wedding anniversary today and here I am about as far away as I can be from my man, at this conference that made my bottom hurt with sitting all day through the great programming put on my the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. I talked to him on the phone at around 9pm but it’s not the same of course. This is the first time we’ve ever been apart on a June 20 and it feels sad here at five minutes to midnight, so I thought I might post something I wrote about him a few years back:


Dave Barry wrote a column once about women festooning their houses with candles you can’t burn, wastebaskets you can’t throw trash in, and frilly pillows and shams you must never sleep on. Why do they do this? Because they’re crazy, he says.

Now Dave Barry is a smart and funny man, but he’s wrong this time. We women don’t do this to our homes because we’re crazy. We do it to say, “This is mine.”

I read somewhere that most women just assume the inside of the house is theirs, and so mark it, as any cat or dog would do; and I have to say, it makes sense to me. After all, we’re the ones who pick up the place day to day, who furnish it and clean it – far more often than our male partners do, especially during playoff seasons. And studies show that even women working full-time jobs STILL do the lion’s share of work around the house. No wonder we come to feel the place is ours and begin taking it over, room by candle-filled room.

My man claims I do this According to him I have gone through our whole house leaving little pyramids and piles of my own invention on every surface. Once, he pointed to the rickety cane-seated chair in our bedroom where he parks his pants nights. “This little chair,” he said sadly. “In this whole house it’s all I have left.”

So OK, MAYBE I’ve frilled things up some around here too. When we first moved here, I did our room over in candles and lacy shams myself.

“Isn’t this awfully… feminine for a man’s bedroom?” his mom asked in that certain mom-in-law way. (“His bedroom!” I thought but did not say out loud. “This is my bedroom, into which he gets invited nights!” (I mean, isn’t that the fun of it on a certain level?))

All right so I’ll admit I’ve sometimes taken the whole House Beautiful thing a bit far. I think of the night I was trying to sleep in this very bedroom, as my mate followed one ballgame on the radio while monitoring another ballgame on TV – only the video portion to that ballgame was blacked out in our area, causing the screen to be filled with wild and staticky scribbles.

“Hang something over that thing before I lose my mind!” I finally yelled. And when he got up and did that, covering the screen with an ugly beach towel, I screeched again. “No, no! A pretty towel, that matches the decor!”

He shot me a deadpan look, whisked the towel off the TV and let the scribbles at me.

So I lost that round, I guess. But I figure if a person understands that any house really belongs to the one who cleans its bathrooms, she can afford to lose a round here and there.

Anyway, I won a round just last week, when I decided to pay some bills in the bedroom. I so set a card table up among the candles and the lacy shams and pulled up to it the nearest chair.

My husband just shook his head on coming home that night and seeing me sitting in it.

“There goes my one chair,” he said wistfully. “Good-bye, little chair!”

It was adorable. And I like the guy, somehow, even though he’s never once cleaned the bathroom. He can bring in four extra radios and catch five broadcasts at once, if that’s what he wants. He has that sweetness, see.

Call me crazy, Dave Barry, but you find a sweet man like that and you just feel like inviting him into your bedroom.


And there it is: an old love offering for David Marotta who took my youth, my tiny waist and my last name too. We’ve had a lot of fun though haven’t we Dave? Here’s to 38 more with a man out standing in his field!