Happy Anniversary?

Staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald shares the story of his first wedding anniversary.

On Monday, my wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. After a hectic week, which included wicked New Year’s Day hangovers for both of us and a major family crisis that caused her to spend Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in St. Paul, we were both looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening of dinner and romance.
We had received a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory for Christmas, so we decided to use it. We got in the car, and as we pulled out of the driveway and started to accelerate down the road, the car started shaking, and I knew we had just shredded the transmission. We pulled into a gas station and headed back home.
As I drove the impotent vehicle back to our apartment, I did what any self-respecting male would do: I screamed every swear word I could think of, pounded on the steering wheel like an angry chimpanzee and told my wife to put on her seatbelt because I was going to drive the piece of shit car into a telephone pole.
When we got back to the apartment, I got out of the car in a fury and slammed the door shut as hard as I could. Then I opened the back door just so I could slam it shut even harder. I finished by spitting on the window and kicking the car until I had put a golf-ball sized dent in the driver’s-side door. Then, I was done.
I followed my wife into the apartment where she informed me that she wasn’t going anywhere with me if I was going to act crazy all night. By this time, I had settled down a bit and was merely pacing back and forth in our living room. My wife proceeded to tell me that we would take the car in on Tuesday and that everything would be fine. Her reassuring words caused me to come back to baseline, and I told her that I was sorry for the blow-up and was ready to go eat because by this time I was starving.
We went to the restaurant and had a nice dinner despite the screaming child sitting right next to us. On any other day, the crying baby might have annoyed me to the point of requesting a different table, but I had expended all my negative energy cursing and kicking the car and figured this was the universe punishing me for my tantrum, so I just accepted it and enjoyed my meal.
After dinner, we had to stop at Wal-Mart for a few things—groceries, Q-tips, pillows and toilet paper. As we were walking through the store, we passed the greeting card aisle, and my wife looked at me and exclaimed, “Oh my God! We didn’t even get each other anniversary cards!”
It was true. The past week had been so busy that we had both forgotten to get anniversary cards for each other.
“I have an idea,” I replied. “Let’s each pick out an anniversary card, and we can give them to each other and read them right here in the store. I mean, think about it, we would only read them once and throw them away anyway, right?”
She agreed, and we both started shuffling through anniversary cards. My wife found a card for me first; I was still searching.
“Hey no peeking!” she pulled the card close to her body, protecting it from my furtive glances.
Finally, I found a card for her.
“Happy anniversary, sweetheart,” I said, handing her the card that I had chosen.
“Happy anniversary,” she replied, handing me the one that she had found.
Then, we both stood there in the middle of Wal-Mart, reading our anniversary cards, which we had no intention of paying for.
“Awwww, that’s sweet,” she said after reading the card I had given to her.
“Yours is nice too,” I replied.
“Well, look at the bright side,” she said, taking both cards in her hands and turning them over to look at their prices. “We saved twelve bucks.”
“Yup,” I responded, “And instead of throwing them away, we can put them back on the shelf for someone else to purchase.”
She inspected the card rack, trying to find where each card came from. When she did, she tucked them nicely back amongst their clones. Then, glancing around to make sure that no one was looking, she pulled me close to her.
“I love you,” she said softly.
“I love you too,” I replied, and we shared a semi-passionate anniversary kiss in the middle of Wal-Mart’s greeting card aisle.
When we got home from Wal-Mart, we were both pretty tired, and she had to work early on Tuesday morning, so we put on our pajamas and went into the bedroom to watch TV before falling asleep.
“I think we should make that anniversary card thing a tradition. Every year, for our anniversary, we should go to Wal-Mart and pick out cards for each other, read them right there and put them back,” I suggested.
“That sounds like a good idea,” she replied. “But you know what else we should make a tradition?”
“What?” I asked, looking into her suddenly lascivious brown eyes and already knowing the answer.
She gracefully rolled over on top of me and started straddling me.
“Hmmmm,” I said. “That sounds good too.”
A night that began with angry passion ended with a very different sort of passion, and as we lay in the bed naked, I looked over at her and said, “That turned out to be a happy anniversary after all.”

The Best Christmas Ever

This post from staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald recalls his best Christmas ever in a story from his childhood.

 

When I was seven, my parents separated, and in the aftermath of their separation, my mother struggled financially.  She never let me or my brother know how bad it actually was, but when I look back on that period of my life, I realize how hard she worked to make ends meet.

She was working a full-time job and another part-time job from home, and I remember times when she would come home late from her full-time job, make us dinner, and then sit at the desk with her calculator and a stack of papers until we went to bed.  There were times when I would wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I would see her still sitting at the desk working.

 

When Christmas rolled around that year, my brother and I made our usual lists and gave them to her to give to Santa Claus.  I can’t even remember what I asked for that year, but I remember that when we gave her our lists, she said something like, “Santa’s had a rough year, so don’t be too upset if you don’t get everything you asked for.”

At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Santa doesn’t have rough years, does he?  Or maybe he does.  My seven-year-old brain struggled to make sense of her words, but if anyone would know about the state of Santa’s year, it would be my all-knowing mother.  I struggled to think of a time in all my seven years of existence when she had been wrong about something before, and I couldn’t.  In the end, I decided that perhaps Santa does have rough years.

 

On Christmas Eve, I got sick with a nasty holiday cold.  “Ho, ho, haaachooo,” could be heard all through the house, and instead of going outside on the porch and watching the snow fall from the sky, I was stuck inside the house in my bed with snot falling from my nose.  But my mother was right there next to the bed, picking up my used Kleenexes, taking my temperature, and delivering piping hot chicken noodle soup to my bedside.

 

After a long night of coughing and sneezing and nose blowing, Christmas finally came, and though I still felt greener than the Grinch, I was able to muster up enough holiday cheer to make the trip downstairs to the couch to open presents.

There weren’t many gifts around our tree, and all the boxes were pretty small.  Nothing on my list could fit in any of these boxes, I thought.  I figured my mother was right.  Santa really had had a rough year.

 

I opened the biggest present first.  I eagerly tore at the wrapping paper until it lay in a crumpled heap at the foot of the couch.  I was left with a plain white box, which I opened to discover one of those white Coca-Cola bears that McDonald’s used to sell at Christmas time for a few bucks when you bought something from the menu.

My brother opened his first present, and he got a white Coca-Cola bear too.  We glanced at each other as if to ask, “Did you have this on your list?”  Then we both looked away as if to say, “Me neither.”

I opened my next present, and my brother opened his.  We looked at each other again, “Nope, me neither.”

 

When we finished unwrapping all our presents, we were both left with the entire collection of toys that McDonald’s had offered with their Happy Meals for the month of December.  My mother must have sensed our disappointment because she went into her bedroom to bring out two more presents.

“I got you each one more gift,” she said with a smile.

My brother’s face lit up and so did mine, and we had the presents unwrapped before they even left her hand.  Our eagerness quickly turned to confusion.  I received the movie The Addam’s Family and he received Charlotte’s Web.  We looked at each other one final time, “Nope, me neither.”

 

After sitting in silence for a moment, my mother started talking.

“Santa had to eat McDonald’s Happy Meals for two week straight so you could have Christmas presents this year,” she said, still smiling.

Slowly, smiles broke out across our faces.  We argued over who would get to watch his movie first, and the rest of our Christmas was spent watching the same two movies over and over again until we both fell asleep on the couch.

 

Every year, at Christmas time, I think back to that Christmas.  I remember how sick I was, and I remember how disappointed I was.  At the time, I would have said that that was the worst Christmas ever, but each year, the memory of that Christmas glows a bit brighter.  Each year, I think of that Coca-Cola bear, those Beanie Babies, and those movies, and I am reminded of the strength of my mother’s love for her two sons.  I am reminded that it truly is the thought and the love that is behind the gift and not the gift itself that matters most.  Twenty years later, I think back to that Christmas, and I remember it as the best Christmas ever!

Domestic Wellness Part 2: The Domestic Vision Test

Staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald brings us the conclusion to his two-part blog series on domestic wellness. Enjoy!

 

Health insurance can be expensive, and even if you do have it, oftentimes the deductible is so high that it makes the insurance obsolete except in the case of a medical emergency.  Because of this, many uninsured people are forced to forgo seemingly trivial medical assessments like hearing and vision tests.

 

In this two-part blogging event, I introduced Domestic Testing, a radical innovation in wellness that allows spouses and partners to administer simple hearing and vision tests on each other from the comfort of their own home.  Last time, I discussed the Domestic Hearing Test, and this time,I will be discussing the Domestic Vision Test.

 

My wife has very bad vision—she’s practically blind without glasses or contacts—and so it is important that I, as her loving husband, help maintain her ocular wellness.  In order to do this, I have developed the Domestic Vision Test, or DVT.

 

The DVT is a fairly simple test that I administer to my wife on a weekly basis.  Using black washable marker, I write a sentence across the front of my body.  I start the sentence at the top of my chest using large letters, and I continue the sentence down to my belly button using smaller letters for each line of the sentence.

 

When I have finished writing the entire sentence across my body, I instruct her to lie down in the bed naked, remove her glasses and close her eyes.  I proceed to strip naked, and I walk into the bedroom facing her.  When I have positioned myself exactly four feet from the foot of the bed, I instruct her to open her eyes and begin reading the sentence.

 

She is able to read the first line with ease, even without her glasses: “This is a…” She reads the second line fairly easily as well: “…vision test…” By the third line, she starts to struggle with the words.  When she begins struggling, I take one step towards the bed and ask her to begin reading the sentence again.

 

This time, she can read the first, second and third lines fairly easily:  “This is a vision test for my…” She struggles with the fourth line of words.  I take another step towards the bed and ask her to begin reading the sentence again.

 

She reads the first, second, third and fourth lines with ease: “This is a vision test for my ocular wellness…” When she gets to the fifth line of words, she starts to struggle again, so I take a final step forward and position myself right at the foot of the bed.

 

She starts to read the sentence again, and this time, she reads the entire sentence without any problems:  “This is a vision test for my ocular wellness.  Do you want to have sex with me?”

 

I say, “Yes, of course I’d like to have sex with you sweetheart,” and since we’re both already naked, the Domestic Vision Test concludes with a thorough physical examination and a sexual wellness course.  I can’t wait until next week when she gives me my Domestic Vision Test!

 

This concludes the Domestic Wellness series.  I hope you enjoy administering the Domestic Vision Test as much as I did.

 

This article is not to be taken seriously.  I “test” my wife’s vision as a joke.  The DVT is not a serious wellness innovation.  Only someone specially trained in healthcare or wellness can administer a real vision test.   

 

 

Domestic Wellness Part One: The Domestic Hearing Test


This week, we will enjoy a two-fer from staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald. In this post, Dallas gives us part one in his domestic wellness series. Cheers!

 

Health insurance can be expensive, and even if you do have it, oftentimes the deductible is so high that it makes the insurance obsolete except in the case of a medical emergency.  Because of this, many uninsured people are forced to forgo seemingly trivial medical assessments like hearing and vision tests.

 

In this two-part blogging event, I will introduce Domestic Testing, a radical innovation in wellness that allows spouses and partners to administer simple hearing and vision tests on each other from the comfort of their own home.  This time, I will discuss the Domestic Hearing Test, and next time, I will discuss the Domestic Vision Test.

The Domestic Hearing Test, or DHT, is a fairly simple test that I administer to my wife at least once a week.  While my wife is in the living room, I go into the bathroom and whisper her name, “Jodee,” at a barely audible volume.  I wait a few seconds for a response.  If she does not respond, I increase the volume slightly and whisper, “Jodee,” again.  If she still fails to respond, I increase the volume a little bit more and whisper, “Jodee,” again.

 

I continue increasing the volume and saying her name until she responds, at which point I enter the data into a notebook that I have set aside to record the eventual decline of her hearing and vision.  So far, she has consistently scored a five at the distance of living room to bathroom, but on one occasion, she scored a seven because our noisy dryer was running and she had trouble hearing me over the racket.

My wife also administers this convenient test to me and records it in another notebook that she has set aside to record the eventual decline of my hearing and vision.  So far, I have consistently scored a three at the distance of kitchen to bathroom, but the kitchen is closer to the bathroom than the living room, so there’s no telling what my score would be if she altered the standard test distance.

 

By administering the test to each other weekly, we are able to calculate our average domestic hearing scores.  Then, as we each get older and our hearing gets worse, we can look back at our old scores and determine how much our hearing has declined.  A difference of one or two points indicates a significant decrease in hearing ability and suggests that it might be time to see a real doctor.

 

Thanks to the DHT, my wife and I have saved hundreds of dollars on unnecessary hearing tests, and our relationship has improved dramatically.  Nothing fosters love and desire more than testing your spouse’s hearing ability and recording it in a notebook that has been set aside for the express purpose of tracking your partner’s slow but steady physical decline.

 

Check out my next article in which I conclude my two-part series by introducing the Domestic Vision Test, or DVT.

 

This article is not to be taken seriously.  I “test” my wife’s hearing as a joke.  The DHT is not a serious wellness innovation, and half the time when I “test” my wife’s hearing, she smacks me on the arm and tells me to shut up and that she doesn’t need a hearing test.  Only someone specially trained in healthcare or wellness can administer a real hearing test.  

Books, Ottomans, and Order

This week’s post by staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald gives a sweet example of maintaining harmony in the household.

A few days ago, I woke up to find that the book that my wife is currently reading was sitting on our Ottoman.

Hmmm, that’s strange, I thought to myself.  Every time I leave my book on the Ottoman, it ends up getting “put away,” and I usually end up getting a brief lecture about “picking up after myself.”  

It was possible that she simply got tired while reading on the couch and decided to go straight to bed without putting her book away.  I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and refrained from mentioning it to her that evening.

 

The next day, I woke up and found the same book still sitting there on the Ottoman, and I realized that she had not forgotten to put it away.  She was planning on keeping the book there until she was done reading it because it was more convenient.

I had defended my right to leave my books on the Ottoman on numerous occasions and cited “convenience” as one of my main arguments; yet time and again, she had denied me this right by appealing to her superior sense of orderliness.  By leaving my book on the Ottoman, she said, I was creating unnecessary clutter, which upset the order that she worked very hard to establish and maintain.

So, when I saw her book lying there on the Ottoman for the second morning in a row, my own sense of order was offended.

It seems as if a double standard has been established right here in our apartment, I thought to myself.   

 

In the spirit of maintaining a uniform standard, I decided I would put her book away for her.  Later that day, she asked me if I had seen her book.

With a smile, I told her, why yes I had seen her book, and did she know that she had left it out on the Ottoman the last couple of nights, and it really should be put away properly next time.

“Why didn’t you just leave it there?” she asked me.

“Well, you always put my books away for me when I leave them out on the Ottoman, so I figured I’d return the favor,” my smile widened.

She chuckled a bit, but didn’t say anything.  I knew I had her trapped and so did she, but I gave her a way out.

“I know, I know, I can’t leave my book on the Ottoman because if you let me do that, then I’ll leave my keys on the table and my slippers on the bedroom floor, and the whole house will be a mess.”

“That’s right,” she said smiling, “Give a man an inch and he’ll take a foot.”

“Fair enough,” I replied.

That night, before I went to sleep, I made sure to leave my book on the Ottoman just to see what would happen.  When I woke up the next day, it was still sitting on the Ottoman where I had left it, but sitting right next to it was my wife’s book.  I smiled.

Oh, the joys of being married, I thought.  I left both books sit there on the Ottoman—in the spirit of maintaining order.

Great Expectations: Television’s Effect on Your Relationship

This week, staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald gives a comparison and contrast between real-life relationships and those portrayed on television. What do YOU think?

I consume a lot of culture—television shows, music, books, movies, websites—and one thing I’ve noticed is that television shows, in particular, create great expectations for our relationships.  In most TV shows, the characters that are in a relationship experience some sort of conflict in their relationship, the conflict comes to a head, and by the end of the episode, the characters resolve the conflict and are shown peacefully cuddling on the couch.  This pattern follows a traditional narrative arc—conflict, climax, and resolution—and it is an effective way to tell a fictional story.

In real life, however, relationships aren’t so simple.  Conflicts are rarely, if ever, totally resolved, and lingering feelings from one conflict often provide the spark that ignites the next conflict.  While characters in TV shows are cuddling on the couch happy and content with the resolution, people in real relationships are cuddling on the couch as well, but they aren’t quite so happy or content.  They are rehashing the conflict, plotting their next move, and rehearsing what they might do differently next time to obtain a more favorable result.  There are no complete resolutions to conflicts in real-life relationships: only tenuous peace treaties.

I think that, too often, we expect our relationships to be like the ones we see on TV.  We expect simple conflicts to be followed by simple resolutions; and when our relationships don’t follow this pattern, we experience a sort of dissonance: the expectations that we have for our relationships do not match up with the reality of those relationships.  Because of this, we think that there is something wrong with our relationships, but this is simply not true.

TV shows portray relationships and the conflicts that result from them simplistically because they have to cram the entire conflict into a half-hour or sixty minute program.  Real relationships are drawn out affairs.  They exist over days, weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades, and often-times individual conflicts are re-visited numerous times throughout the lifetime of a given relationship.  This does not mean that there is something wrong with that relationship; it simply means that it’s a real relationship.

I’m not saying TV shows are bad.  I love TV, and I love TV relationships.  What I am saying is that it’s not good to use TV shows as models upon which to base our expectations for our real-life relationships.  This creates great expectations, which our relationships will almost certainly fail to live up to, and when this occurs, we risk abandoning those relationships in search of new ones that we believe will more accurately represent the fictional relationships that we see on TV.  Remember, it’s just a TV show.  Don’t make it anything more than it is.

Window Shopping: Look But Don’t Touch

This week’s post by staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald discusses “window-shopping” when you’re in a relationship. What are your thoughts? How do you and your significant other handle window-shopping?

My wife and I are walking hand-in-hand at the mall when suddenly, a beautiful woman catches my eye.  I stare at her as she walks towards us; and as she walks past, my head swivels to catch one final glimpse of her beautiful behind.  It’s this final glimpse that gets me in trouble.

“Really?” my wife asks; but it’s not really a question, it’s a warning.  It’s like she’s actually saying, “I’ll give you a mulligan on that one; but next time, don’t make it so obvious.”

“What?” I reply; but again, it’s not really a question, it’s an apology. It’s like I’m actually saying, “I couldn’t help myself there, but next time I promise I won’t make it so obvious.”

Everyone in a relationship does the occasional window-shopping: men, women, polygamists, monogamists, straight, gay, cheaters, and even totally faithful partners—everyone.  It’s natural, almost like a reflex.  An attractive person enters your visual field, your focus turns to that person until they exit your visual field; and usually, the conscious mind enters the equation in order to ensure that the attractive individual stays in your visual field for as long as possible.

Not only is window-shopping natural, but I think good for any relationship; if not intrinsically, at least as a way to gauge how controlling or possessive your partner is.  A partner who gets angry at you anytime you look in the direction of a member of the opposite sex is most likely a control freak whose suffocating jealousy will eventually destroy your relationship and make you miserable in the process.  A partner who lets you look at anyone and everyone without ever making a comment or expressing any sort of jealousy at all is probably not that into you in the first place.

These are two extreme ends of the window-shopping policy spectrum, but most people fall somewhere between the two.  Different people deal with window-shopping differently.  My wife and I have a strict look-but-don’t-touch policy; but it’s implicitly understood that if she catches me looking, then I have to listen to her critique my taste in women.

“Her?  It looks like a bird shat in her hair, plus she shouldn’t be wearing a belt with that top.  You have no taste in women.”

“I married you, didn’t I?”  I reply.

She ends the exchange with a glance that seems to say, “You know that’s not what I meant.”

A couple’s window-shopping policy is something that develops along with their relationship.  Some have a look-but-don’t-get-caught policy; some have a don’t-look-at-all policy; some have a don’t-look-or-I’ll-make-a-big-dramatic-scene policy.  Whatever the policy in your relationship is, there are times when window-shopping is just plain rude.  Anytime you and your partner are on a formal date, whether it be dinner, a movie, bowling, or a walk on the beach, window-shopping is strictly prohibited.  Formal dates are times for you and your partner to be alone and enjoy each other’s company.  What’s the point in getting all dressed up and going out to a nice dinner if your partner is going to be drooling over the man or woman at the table next to you the whole time?

Anytime you and your partner are with family members, window-shopping is strongly discouraged.  I know my wife wouldn’t be too happy with me if her mom called her up and said, “You know, I noticed that your husband is always checking out other women when you two are together.  Is everything all right between you?”  You don’t want to put your partner in the position of defending you to his or her family members.  It’s uncomfortable for your partner, and no matter how much explaining he or she does, that family member will probably continue to suspect that something is wrong in your relationship.

Anytime you and your partner are out celebrating a special occasion such as an anniversary, a promotion, a graduation, or another milestone event, window-shopping is expressly forbidden.  An anniversary is a celebration of your relationship with each other, and because of this, each partner deserves the undivided attention of the other.  An event like a promotion or a graduation represents the culmination of a lot of hard work, so your partner deserves your total attention in recognition of his or her effort in achieving that goal.

If you’re not sure if window-shopping would be appropriate in a given context, then you should probably refrain from doing it, or at the very least, make sure you don’t get caught doing it.

I am interested in knowing what you think about window-shopping.  In what other situations might window-shopping be deemed totally inappropriate or offensive?  Do men do it more than women or are women just better at not getting caught?  What sort of policy do you usually follow in your relationships?