A friend told me recently she had no intentions of ever getting married because there were too many compromises involved.
As a new bride, I know that's true. Everything is a negotiation. Unless you married a clone of yourself, the other person is going to take different positions from time to time. As Dr. Laura always reminds her listeners, things like religion and having children need to be decided well in advance of the nuptials. Other things don't even come up until you're actually in hand-to-hand combat on a daily basis.
And rarely do we find a middle ground. In every conflict, there is a winner and a loser. Someone says uncle or "To hell with it, do what you want." And there's no pattern. We are not all-Felix or all-Oscar all the time. Being successfully married often means learning to live with a vastly different outlook on life, one that you never saw coming.
When do you take the trash to the dump?
Me: "Once a week."
Him: "When you can't find anywhere left to sit."
What does the expiration date on food mean?
Me: "It's a suggested guideline."
Him: "It's a HAZMAT incident."
What do you do when you find bugs in the pancake mix?
Me: "You spoon out the part with the bugs."
Him: "You take everything out of the cupboard and burn it."
What are leftovers for?
Me: "For dinner the next night."
Him: "A souvenir of the meal to be kept in the refrigerator ad infinitum."
Is there a difference in brands of toilet paper?
Me: "No. Besides, who cares? Do you understand what it's for?"
Him: "Yes. It's got to be Scott tissue. It cannot be anything else. Otherwise, we road trip to WalMart in the middle of the night."
How do you mow the lawn?
Me: "You push the lawn mower over grass that is taller than other grass."
Him: "You go in concentric circles around the yard, each circle getting one length of the lawn mower narrower, until you reach the center. It must be done precisely this way. It cannot be done any other way or you will miss a spot. Missing a spot is very serious. I will have to stop what I'm doing and yell and wave my arms a lot and take over the lawn mower if you miss a spot."
How do you wash a car?
Me: "You rub a soapy sponge all over it and then hose it down."
Him: "You wet down the entire car, and then you rub a soapy sponge in circles around one section of the car, then hose the soap off and proceed to the next section, or you will miss a spot. You never let the soap dry; that will leave spots. You will not miss those spots. You will see those spots! If you miss a spot, I will have to start yelling and wave my arms and stop what I'm doing and take over. I can see if you've missed a spot all the way across the yard."
Unexpected money comes in. What do you do?
Me: "Use it to pay for stuff we already bought and are paying 22 percent interest on."
Him: "Buy more stuff."
How many is too many television sets?
Me: "One in every room."
Him: "Two in every room."
Me: "Why is this crap on television?"
Him: "Watch this!"
What is a weekend?
Me: "Saturday and Sunday for shopping, house cleaning, doing chores and spending time together."
Him: "Sunday and Monday for football."
What are the Redskins?
Me: "A football team. I think they play out of D.C."
Him: "The Football Team. My football team. But I also root for whoever is playing Dallas."
What does it mean when the Redskins lose?
Me: "Nothing. It's just a game."
Him: "A pall descends over the earth."
What does it mean when the Redskins win?
Me: "He is in a good mood until the next game and just might be energized enough after the game to do a chore."
Him: "It depends if the win secures a spot in the playoffs or is too late in the season to matter and another team has a better record, but really, it doesn't matter because all football is good. Except Dallas."
What does "do it now" mean?
Me: "Do it now."
Him: "High on the Honey-Do List. Football season ends the third week in January. See you then." S
Mariane Matera is a free-lance writer who lives in Richmond.
Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
We make sense of the news; pursue those in power; explore the city's arts and culture; open windows on provocative ideas; and help readers know Richmond through its people. We give readers the information to make intelligent decisions.