Thursday, August 31, 2006

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time....

Monday last, August 21st, my spouse and I observed our 24th wedding anniversary.

We woke up that morning, and damn if it wasn't right there at the foot of the bed. Wow. One shy of the Silver Anniversary. That's a trifle disturbing; not that I won't be happy upon the occasion, it's just that it doesn't seem like that long ago that you had to be "old" to have been married that long. Fortunately, I was myopically wrong, wrong, wrong. There is some validity to the claim: We've both put a lot of effort into not growing up.

Now, this aroused some curiosity in me; many people our age that we know have:

-Never been married
-Would rather be shot through both kidneys than be married
-Have been married, divorced, remarried, divorced, jailed, outsourced, and so on
-Married much later than we did (i.e., late 30s & early 40s), and won't be having children. Thus, they fail to truly appreciate our achievement.
-Married much later AND started a family. This means that a number of them won't have their kid(s) turn 18 until they're past sixty.

The latter group are perhaps my favorite. OK, I admit it, I'm occasionally obnoxiously smug about that. "Yeah, I'm gonna be laughing even harder when you guys are trying to deal with teenagers in your late 50s. You have no idea! You'll be old enough to have completely forgotten what it was like to be young, and are doomed to say 'When I was your age, I-' And it will be then that you will know, without a dram of a doubt, that you're old." Yet again, I see that as a valid excuse to be swept over by a tide of mirth.

Then again, by that time, the "G" word likely will have arrived. All I can say about that is that I don't care if our daughter IS 22, you'd better not mention the frigging "G" word around me. I am not reassured by the number of my compatriots in time who already are.... have.... you know, the "G" word. It's OK for them to be old. I refuse to go quietly, and you can trust me when I say that between now & then, I'll have invented some sort of sophistry to justify the contention that I'm still not officially "old".

Many of our generation, and indeed the one preceding ours, perceive us as a couple of freaks. There are a number of perfectly viable reasons for them to do so (after all, we work awfully hard to maintain some of them). What is it that they don't get?

How can we possibly have been married for 24 years?

The sad thing is, we are in the minority. I looked up some statistics, and they're kind of depressing. The average length that a first marriage from 1982 has lasted (to date) is only 7.7 years. 43% of said marriages didn't make it to 15 years. Only 33% of the group are still married. After that, I couldn't look at any more of them. It's just sad. I realize that every marriage isn't going to work out (and sometimes for very valid reasons. Some people just don't belong together and need to split & find someone better), but I wonder if some of those people are even trying? Even the Kansas City Royals have a better winning percentage than that, and they're THE suckiest team in baseball. They're so bad, even Charlie Brown's team could crush them. They have a little shrine in their locker room to the old Washington Senators team, and they pray to God that some day, somehow, they can be as good as the Senators.

So, how do we do it? People ask us this all the time. True, there are things about us that seem to contradict what happens to "normal people", whatever they are. Such as:

-We've been married for 24 years. They have trouble just dealing with the number.
-We're both people with strong and distinct personalities. So, how do we get along?
-Even our daughter has quite the conspicuous presence (Though generally, she is much better liked). How can three such people live together, especially when we're all theatre people? How can we not argue about who's "the best one"?
-Surely, any reasonable person would have killed the other one by now.
-My wife makes friends more easily with men than women; I make friends more easily with women than men. Neither of us has a problem with that, and we don't worry about it. That's what bothers people: we don't worry about it. "Come on, don't you think he/she has been cheating on you?" they ask with perfect seriousness. Statistically, they have the back-up to justify the question. This thing we call "trust" seems like a foreign thing. It's not like we invented it. However, it's become rare enough that we might be able to get away with patenting it and making ourselves some damn money.
-No matter how many rumors get started, no matter how allegedly plausible, they don't stir up trouble between us. We just don't take them seriously. In fact, once I found out about this one particular person who's at a theatre where I've performed probably 16 plays or more, who is an incurable and unrepentant gossip? I've been having a jolly good time with him ever since! According to him, "everybody knows" that I have boinked every single leading lady I ever worked with there. This includes breaking up one marriage, not to mention the statutory implications: The very first one was only 16, and another later one was 17. All of them?? I'd love to say that I have that much charisma, but come on! Ever since I found out, I've been playing him like a cheap kazoo. Oh, not just by starting counter-rumors.... I've conspired with a whole bunch of people, and actually staged scenes between myself and a leading lady just to mess with his mind. The very best of them was the time I was doing a play that only had one man, myself, and one woman. This fellow was hanging around the dressing rooms, just itching for something to grind at the mill. We acted out a vicious argument; after a bit of it, he disappeared. Moments later, the director came backstage, terrified that we were going to refuse to go on with each other. Thought I was going to die laughing!

But, I digress.

You want to know the real "secret", the rock upon which we maintain (and will continue to maintain) our union?

Easy: Without a doubt, deep in our hearts, our minds and our souls, we know that there's not anyone else in the world who could possibly tolerate either of us. That, and the fact that we spoke those vows 24 years ago. We're too bloody stubborn, either one of us, to admit the merest hint of the possibility that we might have been wrong.

Oh, yes, there is one other thing: Every day, we look each other in the eye (twice, actually, because we both have two eyes) and do something that, by the numbers, not a lot of people do.

We find ourselves falling in love with one another just a little bit more.

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who wants to know? said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
who wants to know? said...

Love this post, been there, done that, Last year. Married at 20. Never regretted it. Silver will be great for you!

who wants to know? said...

Love this post, been there, done that, Last year. Married at 20. Never regretted it. Silver will be great for you!

who wants to know? said...

Love this post, been there, done that, Last year. Married at 20. Never regretted it. Silver will be great for you!

who wants to know? said...

Good grief! I knew I had messed up trying to comment, but FOUR times! (embarrassed!!) Must be because I am used to repeating myself with four sons.
RYC: Thanks for the welcome! and amen!
ps: I will only leave ths comment once.

Rick said...

heheheheh, 29 for me this past June. I could go on and on about the good things you, your wife, and your daughter have done for me and my family (especially one other member), but I won't. Only because I know you don't want it to get out how wonderful your whole family is.

The Eye Wit said...

What can I say but "Thanks!" from all of us?

Well, one other thing: You & your family have been a tremendous blessing to us and to a whole lot of others.