Thursday, February 14, 2013

Annoyance (a love story)

Annoyance - noun
1. a person or thing that annoys; nuisance.         
2. an act or instance of annoying.
3. the feeling of being annoyed.

Valentine's Day is here again. This year, Valentine's in a country that actually cares about Valentine's. And with it comes the sole time of the year where me being married separates me from my group of friend. As if I was a carrier of some rare form of leprosy, a form that would destroy every chance my single friend ever had to live happily ever after, I'm shunned, abandoned and left to fend for my self for 24 hours. If they can't find a date, they click up in twos, dating each other so they won't be alone. And more importantly: so they will not have to spend Valentine's without at least the hypothetical prospect of the date leading on to something else.  Hanging out with a married person on Valentine's labels you. It labels you doomed.

Which is fine, because I have a lot of work to do anyway, and Die Hard 5 runs at the theater, and, oh yeah, I'm already married. A small miracle in itself, when I come to think about it.

I don't know what went through my husband's head when he decided that I would be his girlfriend. Because that's what happened, he decided. I made it very clear that we would never become more than just friends, but he was super stubborn, which I suppose is a good thing, because I was clearly wrong. And that was the last time.

Which is part of the reason he deserves a standing ovation for staying in this marriage, even though every plan he (inevitably must have) had to change me, has failed miserably. For other men, who might end up in my husband's situation, (that is, not married to me specifically, that would be weird and impractical, oh, and illegal, but married to people with a different approach to life)  I have put together a survival guide. Some quick and easy tips to get through the magical world of marriage, without too many scars.

The second my husband realized he hadn't thought this through.
If that face doesn't serve as a warning, really, there's not that much I can do for you.
There's also a lesson to be learned about being vigilant here. Look out for aunts with cameras. 

1. Accept that you might have different energy levels in the morning.

My husband gets up to work really early. Way earlier than any time of day I'm willing to acknowledge as "day" at all. As a result, he often also goes to bed before me. In our last apartment we  had a mezzanine we used for storage only. It was in "my office," a cluttered overfilled room of wonder, where magic happened, and things disappeared.

One morning hubby woke me up, and he was being uncharming and loud.
He: Where are my shoes? *angry*
Me: W...what?*charmingly drowsy*
He: My shoes! Where are they?
Me: Half of them are in the hallway
He: Yes. I know that, *more grumpy than what was called for,* where's the other half?
Me: The left shoes joined the resistance, they're hiding in the heights, plotting guerrilla warfare.
He: What??
Me: Shush! It's too early, I need to sleep.
He: I need my shoes!
Me: They need their freedom!
He: I'll miss my buss!
Me: Take it up with them when you find them, warfare shouldn't target civilians.

He then ran off for a while, and as if "hiding in the heights" wasn't an obvious hint, he spent a full two minutes running around before he located the shoes.

He: I'm leaving now, and MAYBE I'll catch my bus.
Me: Where's my good bye kiss? *obviously willing to forgive the early, angry wake up*
Door: SLAM!
Me: Shut up door.

In retrospect I realize my mistake was not forcing the shoes to leave a note.

2. When your wife is sick, everything is your job. Everything.

This point should possibly be named: Don't go out stronger in the beginning of a relationship than you're willing to keep up. But I think the original title sends a stronger message.

Before we were a couple, my husband and I were new but very close friends. This was a huge benefit for me, because I didn't really know anyone else in the strange and ice cold town I had moved into. I was broke, and I got pneumonia. If you are the only friend of a girl raving with fever fantasies and stuck in a strange new world, you have a brilliant opportunity to show how much of a good guy you are. Hubby seized that opportunity.

In a lucid moment I texted him the horrible truth of my predicament and asked him, very politely, to come around with some Paracetamol and dinner. I felt awful, because I had only really known him for a few weeks, but I knew he was a good guy, and promised myself to make it up to him, later. When the walls were no longer oozing and the couch no longer had a tail.

When he arrived I was sleeping on the feline couch, buried in tissues and surrounded by clutter. So he tidied up. He did the dishes. He detailed the couch (might have been the Paracetamol he brought), and made dinner ready on the stove. I woke up to niceness, dinner, a magazine, a box of grapes and a note to call if I needed anything else.

I did make it up to him, though. I married him 4  years later.
I couldn't find a romantic picture of me being sick right now, so I included a picture of Professor Umbridge's office.
It's all pink and fluffy. (Picture by Tamara Deutsch)
 3. Think it through before you make conditions.

I really wanted a cat, my husband didn't. He has known me for long enough to know that if he deny me anything I'll look like a tortured puppy, and he'll feel bad until he either gives in or gets angry, and I don't like him when he's angry, and then I might cry, and he'll be all "I'm sorry," and I'll be all "Can I have a cat?" and he'll go all Hulk, but he looks ridiculous in those blue ripped jeans, so we'll both be worse off than when we started. Therefore he makes conditions instead. He learned a few things about making proper conditions, during the whole cat debacle.

His first condition was disguised as sense.
He said: We're only renting this place, you'll have to wait until we get a place of our own.

But that was fine by me, because I was secretly masterminding a plan to buy our own flat anyway. And five months later, we did. Naturally, this conversation followed:

Me: When are we getting a cat? *not scheming, just curious*
He: We're not getting a cat. *being wrong*
Me: You said I could have a cat when we got our own place.
He: But... yes. Fine. You can have a cat.
Me: Yeiii!
He: But there are two conditions!
Me: Aww....
He: First, you have to do all the emptying of the litter box.
Me: That's fine! After we've had a baby.
He: What?
Me: If I come within bacterial jumping distance from the litter box while I'm pregnant, I can get cat poo disease. It eats your baby. Look it up. It's on the internet.

The next 10 minutes we looked up cat poo disease online, and discussed the difference between eating your baby and harming your baby. He tried to argue that I could empty the litter box until I got pregnant, and I said that was fine, if he wanted a half eaten baby. He didn't understand at first, but then I explained that since we couldn't know right away, the cat poo disease might eat half the baby before we even knew I was pregnant.

He: No. Yes. But still, *using that special quiet voice he uses when he's not sure which of us are being irrational* we're not even trying to get pregnant yet!
Me: No, but no birth control is 100% effective, so it's better to be on the safe side.
He: Fine. I give up. I'm taking back the litter box rule.
Me: No, no! I'm happy to do it after we've had a baby. Or actually, we should make it after menopause, because, you know, you never know.
He: *sigh*
Me: What's the other condition?
He: You'll have to name the cat.... erh.. Potato
Me: Okay!
He: Not done! Potato...beak! Yes! Potatobeak! And you'll have to use that name.
Me: Okay!
He: What?
Me: That's fine! POTATOBEAK!
He: Shhh! What are you doing?
Me: Getting the neighbours used to the name.
He: Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. We can get a cat.

He now only ever refers to Potatobeak, our asolutely marvelously crazy cat, by the names "Kitty" or "Cat".

"Happy Valentine's, come closer so I can smack your nose or give you cat poo disease."

4. Pick your battles.

A general tip. .
Things that have turned out not to be worth fighting about, because your wife will be right:

a) Her right to paint words directly on the wall.
b) Which way the computer should be facing.
c) How many cats are enough cats. (This battle is still ongoing, but the result is predetermined)
d) How many instruments a wife can own before she knows how to play them.
e) How many kitchen appliances you need.
f) What is considered "fun" and not.
g) Which show is better of Babylon 5 and Gilmore Girls.

5. If your wife goes away to study abroad, don't worry. She'll miss you like crazy, cry about it, and wish you were there every single day.

That's just a fact.  

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