This means that I will never again refer to anyone using the unsure, interim terms "my boyfriend" or "a guy I dig." I will never accept a date from someone who has dropped $3.50 on an import for me. And gone forever are the days of wringing my hands and chanting internally, Criminy, why hasn't he called?
My man Marty will always call, because he is my husband. And if he doesn't call, it's because he's sitting right next to me.
Yep, as a married person, I now get to trot around with the knowledge that I will have the same stellar companion always, until we both disintegrate. We are sealed in togetherness whether nice or surly, svelte or dumpy, intact or amputated. All of this is a very wild concept. And a very large concept. So wild and large, in fact, that I don't think it has completely sunk in yet.
As an unhitched adult meandering around the planet for the last 16 years, I assumed that marriage, when it happened, was going to cause a profound shift in my being. I thought that once you hopped over that fence--single livestock on one side; permanently partnered livestock on the other--you felt really . . . different. But--and I speak from three weeks' experience here--it hasn't been that way. It just feels like Marty and I are continuing to hang out a whole lot, but with some really cool new plates and silverware in the cupboards.
And the actual marriage thing seems highlighted only here and there in unpredictable crystallizing moments, or clusters of moments. Allow me to chronicle 11 of them here.
Crystallizing moment or moment-cluster No. 1: Standing on the beach at sunset on Sept. 15, listening to a Baptist rent-a-minister, and being stared at by 80 people who were all thinking, Finally!, I found I wasn't a bit nervous. This was just plain weird, as I normally get anxious if even four people stare at me. But during the 20 minutes of my wedding, I was calm as a coma patient. I was also strangely serene when the minister told us it was time to make out in front of everyone.
No. 2: The day after Marty and I were joined as husband and wife, he and I and his family, on our way back to D.C. in a van, supped at a back-woodsy Alabama restaurant. Because of my 13 years spent in the Deep South, I was the only one not grossed out by the buffet, with its thin film of aged nastiness covering grits and yams. While I was up there alone at the sneeze guard, a retarded man who worked at the ramshackle joint suddenly came hither and said to me, "Guess what I get to do?"
"What?" I said, wishing I'd chosen to order off the menu so I could be back at the table nestled in with my new family.
"I get to prepare the mullet!" he announced proudly, his eyes sparkling through uneven bangs.
"Oh! Good for you," I sing-songed, not knowing what else to say.
Then he delivered his real message. He cooed, "I . . . love you."
My flight response quickly kicked in and I hightailed it for the dining room, but not before standing frozen for a milliscond, thinking how special this was--my first proposition as a married woman, and only 18 hours into the marriage! Sorry buddy, I wanted to say, you don't have a chance in hell now. Before? Maybe. But now? No way.
Instead I said, "Oh, thanks," and skittered away.
No. 3: Marty, to me: "You are my wife." Me, to Marty: "Yes, and you are my husband." Pause. Marty: "Wacky, huh?" Me: "Very." Both: giggle. This moment has been repeated at least 30 to 35 times. Probably nauseating if you're outside the marriage, but a real gas when you're inside it.
No. 4: The day after Marty and I returned home and slept off the long drive (made necessary by terrorists attacking New York and D.C. and thus grounding airplanes), we gave blood. Strangely, we arrived at the hospital at the same time as the Washington Redskins. Without thinking about it too much, we folded in with them as they too shuffled into the blood bank.
I don't give a crap about football, but Marty does, and so do a lot of Washingtonians. Crowds and media were swarming the place. Marty pointed out players to me; I just tried to ignore the hubbub and fill out the paperwork. Suddenly, as if on cue, a hospital worker came and excitedly fetched us and started threading through the throng with us in tow. We had no idea where she was taking us and why. Was she pushing past the hoopla so we could get drained tout suite because the Pentagon-crash survivors upstairs needed our blood right that instant? No telling.
We followed her out of sheer intrigue. And then suddenly we had our answer: With no explanation, she deposited us smack dab in front of some big, tall white dude standing there signing hats.
"Here you go!" she chirped at us, beaming.
I had no clue who the guy was, but I sensed I was supposed to be happy to meet him. "This is Jeff George, the quarterback," Marty said, laughing in disbelief. "Oh," I said. All I could think of was the thousands of schoolchildren and grown men who would appreciate this experience exponentially more than me. I mostly dug the weirdness of it all. Why had Miss Med Tech delivered us to Jeff George? Had Jeff George secretly summoned us? Did he develop a crush on us the instant he saw us out front? If so, now what?
Blood-Bank Lady proceeded to tell the strapping man what I'd mentioned to her earlier--that we were newlyweds who'd just gotten hitched in Alabama, but were deprived of our honeymoon to Jamaica because of all the unrest and screwed-up airports. Mr. George aimed distracted, monosyllabic niceties in our direction but barely looked up from his lid-signing. Whew. I guess he didn't want us as love slaves after all. Thank goddesses.
A few minutes later, our man Jeff was writing on a Redskins cap for us. CONGRATULATIONS, MR. AND MRS. KADY. JEFF GEORGE, it read in indelible black ink.
Now, that was nice and all, but my first response was to blurt, "Oh wait--see, I'm not changing my name. At least not yet. I might later. In fact, I think I'll probably hyphenate. But I haven't yet, and so I'm just Redfearn. I really like Redfearn too much to completely give it up. Do you know what I mean?"
But by the time I'd started to form the words, Jeff George was gone, shuffled out of the blood bank and deeper into the hospital to visit with Pentagon survivors. And standing there, post-hoopla, I realized that no matter what I explained to people, I'd be "Mrs. Kady" in their eyes for the rest of my life. This wasn't so bad.
Nos. 5 and 6: A skanky guy in a convenience store came on to me when I tried to get past him to gain access to the milk case, and later that day a homeless man grumbled with force, "Come back here so I can kiss you!"
This is way more attention than I usually get from our nation's down-and-out, and the onslaught of romantic vibes forced me to acknowledge the validity of that old adage about wedding rings making one absolutely irresistible.
No. 7: It came during yoga class. As a new 12-week session commenced, the instructor gave the usual drill: "If you have any physical ailments, you need to tell me. And that includes pregnancy; definitely come see me if you get pregnant during the session."
My friend Christine, sitting next to me on a rubber mat, reached over and nudged my pretzeled-up leg. She opened up her mouth and laid a new blanket of awareness on my conscious mind. "Hey, you can do that now!" she said.
And it hit me with a profound wave of tingles. Wow--yes, I can! Provided neither one of us is shooting blanks, there could be little half-Marty/half-Suzes scrambling around hurling dung on the walls before too long. And they wouldn't be little bastards, either. They'd be legit!
No. 8: When negotiating rent with the landlord of the bigger apartment we want to move into so we can really feel married, I recoiled in horror and spat, "Oh, my husband will never go for that amount!"
It was fun blaming Marty. It was akin to blaming my id or superego, another part of the same whole. It was like saying, "Oh! My frontal lobe would acquiesce to your demands, but my reticular activating system? Never!" That made for some nice oneness.
No. 9: When Marty told me a woman in line at Fresh Fields opened up a discussion about her favorite scents with him, it didn't worry me. I had no questions to ask. I didn't care what she said, or what she looked like, or how they ended their conversation. I had landed this man and he wasn't going anywhere. Not anywhere, I tell you. Have you got that straight?
No. 10: Marty made the calls to put me on his health- and auto-insurance policies, and I realized I hadn't been on anyone else's policy since I was on my dad's in college. This gave me a small jolt of worry, as though it were a symbol of the loss of my independent-human-being status, my me-ness. I envisioned a beautiful alabaster statue of a Greek goddess alone and majestic on a hill--and she was crumbling, eroding fast due to gale-force winds. But then I thought about the $110 we'd be saving per month and I felt better.
No. 11: While moving into our new married-couple apartment, we came across an old box of Marty's. At the bottom of it, under some college IDs of him looking hot, lay his old wedding ring, worn during a brief starter marriage that ended four years ago. We had a real hootenanny taking the obsolete gold band down to the street and giving it a huge heave ho down the paved hill, listening to it go clink, clink, clink as it bounce-rolled away.
And this is marriage so far.
Exit Stage Fright (2/26/2003)
Editor's note: With this installment we bid adieu to Germ Bag.
Cabin Pressure (2/12/2003)
Escape -- you might think it's what you desire. Until you've actually run somewhere.
New Traditionalists (1/8/2003)
It was Christmas Eve morning on Harvard Street. Marty and I sat on the hardwood floor near our...
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