If you are young and in love, don’t read this post. Seriously. Don’t read this. You won’t get it. The words will all sort of flow together, or look like Mandarin or Sanskrit or something. They will disillusion you and make no sense whatsoever. Go grab an US Magazine and call it a day. I think Rhianna and Chris Brown are back together. Pffft.
Today was my husband’s birthday. I asked him yesterday what he wanted. I kind of suck sometimes. He told me roasted chicken. Dammit. I meant what did he want that I could buy. I think he knew what I meant, but he still said roasted chicken. I am not a roasted chicken kind of a gal. I mean I love chicken. I eat a lot of the stuff. I just don’t prepare food that requires me to deal with bones and carcasses. See? I told you I suck. I live in a world where beef and chicken grow on trees and have no relationship whatsoever to animals with faces. Hashtag hypocrite. I know.
My man asked for a roasted chicken. He doesn’t ask for a lot. Very little, actually. Roasted chicken it would be. Sigh. I looked at a few cookbooks this morning then called and floated the idea of roasted chicken cutlets. “It’s a Bittman recipe,” I sheepishly offered, certain he would agree. He didn’t. Nope. He wanted roasted chicken and wasn’t gonna let me off the hook. I made a list and headed to the market.
On the way I started thinking about what to give my man, the father of my children, the love of my life. Handkerchiefs was what I came up with. He really, really needs handkerchiefs. I know this because I wash his handkerchiefs. I think I just might be married to the only man in America without hair growing out of his ears and nose that uses a handkerchief. I love this about him. It’s charming and old-fashioned with a splash of eco-chic about it. Did you know that it’s really hard to find handkerchiefs these days? True story. It took me three stores, but Nordstrom did the trick. Nordstrom’s is the bomb.
But you can’t just give the love of your life handkerchiefs for his birthday. I mean come on. THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE DESERVES MORE. Like a whisk. Yes, a whisk! That seemed like a brilliant idea this afternoon. The sun was shining, the light was brilliant, and my man needed a whisk. He did. I have transitioned to the silicone variety and he hates them. Hates them. For months he’s been stubbornly whisking away with thinly bent rust with a handle. Honestly. It couldn’t have been healthy. Well I marched into Crate and Barrel and bought my man the Cadillac of whisks today. Two whisks, in fact, big and small. And the gal behind the counter wrapped them up all pretty and that box looked a lot more expensive than it actually was. Score.
At this point I was just avoiding going home because I knew that what awaited me was that chicken. Ugh. The damn chicken. Surely my man needed something else to open up on his big day. What could it be? What. Could. It. Be. Ahhh, yes! Undershirts. Much like the handkerchiefs, his undershirts had seen brighter days. It was time.
My poor man. This birthday would be the trifecta of middle-aged accoutrements as gifts. Nothing says, “I love you,” like your wife gifting you the necessities of life. The cheap necessities of life. That got me thinking. Birthdays and anniversaries make me wistful. Whiskful, too.
We were 31 when we got married. It will be twelve years this May. A dozen years of marriage. That’s a long time. Somedays it feels like yesterday, and somedays it feels like I’ve never not been married. “Come Rain Or Come Shine” was sung at our ceremony. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
We had a beautiful wedding. Small, simple, do it yourself before DIY was it’s own thing. It was lovely. I had our wedding vows laminated and we each carry a set in our wallets. I take them out a couple times a year to remind myself. Our words were simple and earnest. A lot like us, I suppose. We also had a friend read a poem called True Love by Judith Viorst.
I read it now, twelve years later, my husband inches away playing Candy Crush Saga on his computer, and I laugh out loud. What were we thinking?! That is who we are, my friends, and Lordy am I grateful for it. “Despite cigarette cough, tooth decay, acid indigestion, dandruff, and other features of married life that tend to dampen the fires of passion / We still feel / something / We can call / True love.” Yes, these were some of the hallowed words spoken at our wedding.
The thing is, marriage is hard. It is acid indigestion and dandruff and bad smells. It is a lifetime of those things. It is also a hand when you need it, a thumb wiping away a tear on your cheek, a roasted chicken on your birthday.
I love my husband. I do. I would marry him all over again today and feel really, really lucky about that. When he asked for that roasted chicken, despite not wanting to do it, I did it. Because that is marriage. When I finally surrendered and gave up my anxiety over handling a dead bird, I loved it. I loved every single second of the prep and the cooking. I roasted the hell outta that bird and I liked it. And it was delicious. OMG, as the kids say, that bird was good.
And we smiled. And we ate. And the candles flickered. And our boy laughed. It was a good birthday.
That Ms. Viorst knew what she was talking about. Marriage is not sexy. It’s just not. I mean, sure, it can be. But the day in and day out is work, give and take, roasting a chicken when you don’t feel like it, and smiling when the pretty package reveals new handkerchiefs. Work. Beautiful, tender, loving work.
Happy birthday to my favorite husband. I love you. Here is to many more chickens together.
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