Adventures in Writing: Part 9 of 20?

Take 20 words chosen at random. Put them in a bowl. Draw one and write something about it.

Simple? Maybe not.

Special wife and husband installment.



Twelve things learned in almost 12 years of marriage.

1. I’ve learned that men just poop more than women and they take their sweet natured time about completing the action.

Not only do men poop more, but they are unable to carry out the mission without words…written words. I’ve seen my husband scrounging the house for something to read when the month is drawing near the end, and he’s gone through the multitude of magazines that he subscribes to and houses in his bathroom. I can see his mental struggle when he has to choose between my Oprah magazine or the back of a cereal box for possible reading material.

I order two magazines and very seldom get through either of them. As a practical matter, I poop once a day and do not dally about. I get in and out. I do not read. I poop and leave the premises once my mission has been accomplished. I can think of more pleasant environments in which to read.

2. I’ve learned that Cheetos are an extremely valuable natural resource. I discovered this just last week when I reached into the towel drawer in my husband’s bathroom to retrieve a towel to dry our grandson off after his bath and was both horrified and hysterical when I discovered a family-size bag of Cheetos hiding under the towels. Once I composed myself, I came out of the bathroom and asked my husband just why there was a bag of Cheetos in his bathroom. His reply, “So you aren’t tempted by them.” Really? Really? I have never in my entire married life eaten “his” Cheetos when they were left in plain view. Really? So “I” wouldn’t be tempted by them?

3. I’ve learned to trust my husband when he opens all four windows in the car in below zero weather and yells, “Flush” that it is in my best interest to turn my face to the open window and breath deep.

I consider the “flush” a community service.

4. I’ve learned that no mail may be disposed of with our name and address on it – even if the name is “RESIDENT”. I used to violate this policy only to find my discarded mail sorted with name and address removed and disposed of in the correct garbage receptacle.

I now fear the mail. Anything with my name on it sits in great piles on our kitchen island waiting for me to review it. If it’s junk, I put it in one pile. If it’s something I need/want, it goes into another pile. I then hide the pile of what I want/need so he doesn’t destroy it and cautiously leave the pile of mail I don’t want in the middle of the island which gives him permission to do his identity removal and secret sorting.

Mail is a confusing process and I leave it to the professional!

5. I’ve learned that my darling spouse cannot give our dogs simple commands to correct their inappropriate actions. For example, our two-year-old Puggle, Ziggy, recently went to the patio door several times with a whimper which typically designates one of two thing: 1) a leaf just blew across the back yard and he needs to get out there to kill it, or 2) he needs to eliminate some liquid or solid. Granted, Ziggy more often than not stands by the patio door whimpering five minutes after he’s just been out. However, in this particular case, he apparently needed to perform the second of the two options and when he wasn’t allowed outside, he did what came naturally – he left a huge puddle right in front of the patio door.

My husband jumped from his chair with a litany of curse words that would make a Marine blush and began chastising of the now empty dog. Watching this from a safe distance, I mentioned that the dog did the same thing earlier in the week when I hadn’t taken him out when he whimpered at the door as I believed it was a false alarm…and discovered it was not as he peed on the cupboard. I said that I couldn’t even yell at Zigs because he told me; I just didn’t listen.

This story apparently had no impact on my husband as he swore and explained to Ziggy in great detail how he felt about his piddling on the floor. Ziggy stood looking at my husband with a look on his doggy face that was clearly saying, “Hey, I’m innocent here. I told you.” That look fell on deaf ears as the scolding continued until all remnants of the “accident” had been removed.

6. I have learned that my husband is not, as he reminds me often, “my girlfriend”. If I tell him something about someone who has either hurt or annoyed me, he will put his mind to work on an immediate solution. That solution will include a complete dissemination of said offender’s character as well as various scenarios of how I can get my revenge on said person. Then, as an added benefit, he will remember that person’s crime far longer than I will and if I bring that person up in casual conversation, he will remind me of the past crimes said person committed against me even though it is now obvious that we are buds.

I do give my hubby credit. He tries to listen without giving advice. It’s just that men are take-action kind of people and if I am just venting, I should indeed save that conversation for my girlfriends!

7. I have learned the true lyrics to many songs. While I have mistakenly sung lyrics such as Paul McCartney’s: “Helen, hell on wheels,” I now know through my husband’s song-singing that what Paul was really singing was “Hello, yellow wheels.” This is just one of many true lyrics that I’ve learned over the years. During any road trip that is accompanied by background music, I often discover additional lost lyrics as he belts out the tunes. I used to correct my husband, but the lyrics that he sings are firmly planted in his head and there is no replacing them. I will admit here and now that ONCE I sang the wrong lyrics to the Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane.” I will never live that down…never.

8. I have learned that you can indeed drive exactly 25 miles per hour in the city or 70 miles per hour on the highway without exceeding the speed limit because that is what my husband does. He feels no stress as cars back up behind him. He is cheery as others zoom by with a raised finger and eyes blazing. He is happy in his law-abiding, NOT in the fast lane world.

Now I will admit that maybe, just maybe, I exceed the speed limit just a tad, and have paid the price twice, but really, 25 miles an hour? Well, I could get out and walk faster, right?

9. I have learned that my husband, unlike me, is a good loser. We can play six games of Yahtzee, three hours of cribbage, or a marathon game of Scrabble. Although he, more often than not, loses, he continues playing just to spend time with me. He gets that playing games is just a way to pass time in each other’s company. If I, on the other hand, lose two games of anything either consecutively or intermittently and I get crabby and want to quit.

10. I have learned thoughtfulness comes in unexpected ways from the man that I’ve been married to for nearly a dozen years. I’ve been on the receiving end of sentimental and well thought out gifts for each of our anniversaries.

My husband spends unknown amounts of time building the number of years we’ve been married into the gifts. Last year, for our 11th anniversary, I received 11 books – some on writing, some just well-written books because I want to pursue some type of writing career. For our 9th anniversary, I received a picture with 9 separate panels related to music – another one of my loves. Our 6th anniversary gift was a beautiful picture with six gold leaves.

I look around and see his thoughtfulness reflected on and throughout the walls of our home.

11. I’ve learned that a sense of humor – whether it’s laughing at your own stupid actions or just a moment that catches you off guard is essential for a man cohabitating with a woman whose emotions tend to go off the charts. I believe that one of my requirements in my Yahoo personal ad 15 plus years ago was to find someone I could laugh with. While that statement may be considered overused and trite, I have laughed at and with my husband throughout our 15-year relationship and it continues to be our words to live by.

Laughter reminds you not to take yourself too seriously. It is a breath of fresh air when tension fills the room. It is the foundation of our best memories.

I am blessed with a marriage full of laughter.

12. Finally, I’ve learned that my husband is my rock. He has loved, cradled and quietly encouraged me through good times and bad. He hurts when I hurt. He holds me up when I’m falling. He laughs when I laugh. He sings when I sing. He is there when I need him. He gives me space to be my own person. He sees who I am and loves me in spite of it. He is the man of my dreams.

While it may take a village to raise a child, it takes just two, the patience of a saint and an incredible sense of humor to build and maintain a marriage. As our 12-year wedding anniversary looms on the horizon, I’d have to say that it’s been a great ride, Honey! Here’s to you for teaching me all the important things in life!

What major dozen things have I learned about marriage as the 12th anniversary of my being wedded to the most wonderful woman in the world (TMWWW) approaches? I might have spent an incredible amount of time digging deep within the recesses of my so-called memory to answer that question, but I’ll just take the easy way out and delve into the subject areas so graciously provided to me by TMWWW herself.

1. Scientific studies have confirmed that the average bathroom output volume of men and women does not differ significantly. What women do not know is that sitting on the throne and reading just naturally go together — like horse and carriage, love and marriage or screaming eagles and sandsnakes.

Humanity has been simplified as two basic types of people in more ways than I can count. One of those divides us into “Randoms” and “Sequentials.”

I am a painful example of the latter. I have great difficulty moving to another task before I have completed the one at hand. Unfortunately for me, today’s world puts a high premium on “multitasking,” which falls into the realm of the Randoms.

If performing these two bathroom tasks takes longer than one might expect, it’s only due to mismatched timing. An article may take longer to finish than my primary duty, but a Sequential never stops reading in mid-story. Anything started must be completed.

Trips to the bathroom present opportunities for me to overcome my basic inability to multitask. Sure, it’s only “double-tasking” — simultaneously reading and that other thing — but I should be given credit for self-improvement and enhanced employability.

2. A towel drawer is a perfect place to “store,” not “hide,” a family-size bag of Cheetos. My explanation for how the bag came to be there was yet another example how thoughtful I am.

TMWWW claims that she would never dip into a tempting bag of Cheetos placed in plain sight. What she meant to say is that she would never violate an “unopened” bag.

As my immediate plans for the bag definitely included opening it, I thought that stashing it in a bathroom drawer was a proactive move. I was merely trying to keep TMWWW from following my evil nutritional ways.

3. Clearing a car cabin of sudden, mysterious atmospheric changes is one of the sworn duties of a good husband. Time spent determining the source or nature of these variations is time wasted in what could be an emergency situation.

A four-window flush, leading safety experts say, is the quickest way to restore a safe environment in a speeding automobile, regardless of whether the situation was caused by an inflow of deadly anhydrous ammonia from a just-passed farm field or was generated by an innocent internal gas leak. Fortunately, I have an extremely well-developed early detection ability, enabling me to take action long before other occupants become aware of any danger.

4. MWWW should be afraid of the mail. Very afraid. With much junk mail comes much responsibility.

Our household has two basic incoming mail-handling systems. In TMWWW’s system, each day’s mail goes in either one pile or two. If I see two piles on the kitchen island, it means that TMWWW has gone though the offerings and filtered out the items for which she personally has further purpose. Sometimes, I can correctly identify the “save” pile. Most of the time, I cannot.

Over the course of a week or two, without intervention on my part, each pile will continue to grow to proportions threatening to require an addition to the house. That’s when I am forced to apply my system.

In that system, both of TMWWW’s mountainous mail piles are reevaluated and sorted into three piles. The first pile is “keepers” — bills, bank and credit card statements, notices of foreclosure — all the little things which might hold consequences if lost or ignored. The second pile is heading for the shredder — junk mail like credit card offers, pre-approved loan notices, insurance quotes — along with anything else bearing our names and/or address which, if they were to be found blowing about the streets, would bring the litter police directly to our doorstep. The third pile is strictly advertising, sans name or address, which gets recycled.

Is it any wonder that a LifeLock identity theft insurance purchase comes with a free shredder?

5. I am aware that our dogs are quite probably unable to translate English into Barkese. My lengthy, expletive-laced verbal response to whatever offense they have committed is mostly for me, not them.

They do not understand my sentences. They do understand the tone in which the words are delivered. They are polite enough to look at me for the duration of my diatribes before they return to doing whatever the hell they were doing to spark my ire.

6. My limited options for responding to tales of woe told to me by TMWWW became apparent to me very early in our relationship, even before my girlfriend became my fiancee, and my fiancee became TMWWW. The concept that I could simply listen to a problem but not be required to offer a solution was a little hard to grasp.

I guess that initially thought it might be a trap. I was being told something, and I didn’t have to do anything about it? It seemed too good to be true. Once my suspicions subsided, I wholehearted embraced the arrangement.

Times still come when I can’t resist offering my all-purpose suggestion: “Just kill them.” I should know better, as that response has never been well received.

7. When it comes to memorizing song lyrics, I definitely do not the have the purist perspective of TMWWW. I sing what I hear.

Paul McCartney’s “hello, yellow wheel” (Helen Wheels) is just the tip of the lyric iceberg. I’ve also heard Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “There’s a bathroom on the right” (Bad Moon Rising); Jimmy Hendrix’s “scuse me, while I kiss this guy” (Purple Haze); Queen’s “need somebody to love, bite!” (Somebody to Love); and Simon and Garfunkel’s “in the quiet of the railway station. lettuce skin” (The Boxer)

For the record, the lyrics I heard and sang correctly from the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” were “they didn’t care, they were just dying to get off.” TMWWW has never revealed her interpretation of that particular sentence. In fact, she has become quite peeved on those few hundred occasions I have reminded her that I was right.

8. I’ve got one rule that I apply to driving speeds: “Never speed, never worry.” By subconsciously following this rule, I feel no need to watch for lurking squad cars or keep up with my fellow drivers. Neither do I worry about how I will fund the $7,234.13 conglomeration of fine, court fees, taxes, surcharges and tips I would have to pay after being busted for driving 26 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.

TMWWW, on the other hand, has a different rule even more eloquently simple than mine: “One speed.” That speed seems to be 70 mph.

Whenever I’m riding shotgun, I no longer look at the speedometer or innocently ask how fast we’re going. I know.

9. You could believe, as TMWWW does, that I am a good loser. In fact, I would much prefer to win whatever game we’re playing. I just don’t get too upset about losing. Maybe that makes me more of a neutral loser.

Whether I lose or win, I recognize the real purpose of the game is to spend time together, laughing and often engaging in extended, highly accented “stupid talk.”

10. I do endeavor to find anniversary gifts symbolic of the number being observed. Some have been less successful than others.

A digital camera with a model number ending in eight, for example, was not the most memorable gift on the eighth anniversary. In my defense, TMWWW had said that she wanted a camera. Luckily for her, 8-track tape players were no longer available.

An 11-book assortment specially picked for a budding memoir writer were the best I could do last year, but not for lack of searching. Eleven does not seem to be a popular number in the worlds of jewelry or art.

I’m a little at a loss for the upcoming anniversary at this point. I’ve been told that space is no longer available for anything that might need to be hung on a wall, so paintings are out.

I’m leaning toward a nice, fresh carton of a dozen eggs. Seems so natural. Nothing but Eggland’s Best, of course, for TMWWW.

11. I am in full agreement with TMWWW on the subject of humor. We are as likely to laugh at something one of us said or did as we are to laugh at the antics of others. While you can’t build a successful marriage on laughter alone, you can’t build one without it. We’ve got a treasure trove of humorous building blocks in our marriage foundation.

12. As much as I am TMWWW’s rock, she is mine. She has an unfailing ability to bring out the best in me, even when I have no idea of what my best might be. I don’t know how I ever managed without her comfort, caring and companionship, or how I could possibly exist without her.

A while back, TMWWW added one of those of “words of wisdom” signs among the many found in our home decor. It reads “If I had my life to live over again, I’d find you sooner, so I that could love you longer.”

That says it all. TMWWW is the love of a lifetime, my lifetime.