Marriage! Or…Taking Sides

There’s always some new thing to argue over when you’re married.

A month ago Old Dave made me switch sides on the bed and he  took the good side.  ‘Course I admit I made him change the room all around that very morning, which is why he took my good side: to punish me.

It was nice to win the room-arranging fight. Very satisfying indeed.

Only now here he is on what was once MY perfectly taut side of the bed.

And here I am on his side, trying to get to sleep inside the virtual trough made by his body with its ropey muscles and heavy scaffolding. (My side, I should say, has this super-shallow almost undetectable dip that really I can’t take any credit for; it’s the porous bird-bones I was talking about the other day.)

Anyway it feels pretty strange, and not just because of the trough.

It feels strange because the room looks so different when I open my eyes: the window that used to be above the bed is now across from it and I now have to reach to the right instead of to the left for that glass of water I keep on the bedside table.  I feel like we turned the place over to new people who changed it all around, only we’re the new people.

He’s used to turning to the right – away from me – when he settles into the night’s deepest sleep only now he can’t because a turn to the right brings him in contact with the whole Argentina-long country of another body: mine.

When he did this last night it startled me awake because here he suddenly was, right on the set of the action adventure dream I was having.

It woke me right up.  “What‘s happening?” was all I could think.  Was he about to heave one of those 50-pound legs across my wicker breadbasket of a pelvis?

“Dave! I’m right here!” I said from my trough, meaning Don’t steamroll me.

He opened one eye and gave me that wry look he sometimes puts on. “Thanks T.” he said. “I feel so safe!”

You could die from such a man, you know?

see that trough? You could water your horse in it!

Velcro!

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