Sometimes my husband says the dumbest things. Sometimes I can get him to give up on the issue. Sometimes he screws up majorly. And sometimes he says just the right thing.
Occasionally, I can talk my husband out of whatever ridiculous thing he’s trying to convince me of. Some of these occasions involve opinions of foods. Whenever I say I don’t like a particular food, like mustard or raw onions, he immediately starts in. “Why don’t you like it? Have you ever tried it? Here, taste this.” The reason usually is, I just don’t like the taste of it. “What about the taste is it that you don’t like?” Eventually, I have to come up with an acceptable adjective. Mustard tastes metallic. Raw onions have an unpleasant bite. Overripe bananas and egg salad are too mushy.
Once I have come up with a reason, he lets up. He can even make the connection. He now understands that I don’t like cream of wheat or grits. “It’s a texture thing, isn’t it?” he acknowledges. Occasionally, he gets a partial victory. I have eaten honey mustard at least once and didn’t want to spit it out; the honey lessened the metallic taste. The egg salad Dan makes is chunky rather than mushy. I don’t mind onions so much if they’re finely diced and cooked.
I’ve also been able to come up with understandable reasons for experiences other than food. He thought it was silly for me to pull down the blinds when I get dressed. “No one can see. The neighbors would have to have a telescope that sees around corners.” When I said, firmly, that it made me feel more comfortable and secure, he said no more about it.
Earlier in our marriage, Dan was given to making statements that tempted me to kill him. For example, his relatives and mine lived in different states. When we were planning our wedding, he thought we should have it in between the two states, so that it would be equally inconvenient for both families. I had a hard time convincing him this was a Bad Idea, but eventually I just had to put my foot down.
Another time, he was sitting beside me on the sofa, talking on the phone to his mother. “No, Mom,” I heard him say. “Of course you can come stay with us for a week. Janet won’t mind. Here, Janet. Tell Mom she can come.” Then he shoved the phone at me. I shot him the glare of imminent decapitation. It wasn’t that I never wanted his mother to visit. I just objected to his making the invitation without talking it over with me first to agree on a suggested date and length of stay.
One more incident also involved his parents. It was coming up on their 50th anniversary, which of course was a Good Thing. But my husband “volunteered” us (read: me) to go to Philly and prepare all the food for their surprise party. My reaction after he got off the phone: “When did you plan to tell me this?” His response, sheepishly: “Now.” I had to channel Martha Stewart, whom I loathe, to get it done.
On the other hand, Dan has said some sweet, funny, or insightful things. Once when we were going through a box of old mementos in the garage, I found myself getting depressed at all the bad memories some of them evoked. “If you hadn’t been through those bad times,” he said, “you couldn’t be as good a friend to your friends who are going through bad times now.” It was exactly the right thing to say.
Another time, I was despairing about my final paper in my grad school class. “It’s just too thin and skeletal,” I said. Dan replied, “Is it thin and skeletal or concise and to the point?” I ended up turning it in without further revisions and got an A.
But perhaps my favorite memory of something my husband said was when we were watching TV and the movie Gunga Din came on. He innocently asked, “Honey, do you like Kipling?” That’s right – he opened the door and walked right in. For the first, and most likely last, time in my life, I was able to say it. “I don’t know,” I choked, barely able to speak through my snorts of laughter. “I’ve never kipled.” That was the moment I knew he was a keeper.