Fifteen years and two days ago, NewWifey(tm) came up to me and said, “I want a pre-nup.”
“I want a prenuptial agreement” she said. “We’re getting married tomorrow, and I want some assurances that if you flake out or get fat or something, I won’t be left destitute after I shoot you.”
“Shouldn’t you have thought of this before the day before our wedding?” I asked. “I mean, where are we even going to find a lawyer on such short notice? Hammering out some of the financial arrangements alone can take weeks!”
“We don’t need a lawyer” she said. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’ve made a list.” She pulled out a yellow legal pad. “Sit down.”
I sat. The pad had a line drawn down the center, with her name atop the left column, mine atop the right. There were already a few items written in under her name.
“These are the things we promise to do – and not do – for each other as man and wife, and what we expect the other to do for us” she said.
“Blow jobs” I said.
“I’ve already written that down on my side of the list.”
“Then I’m good” I said, and stood up.
“Sit back down” she said, “you haven’t heard MY demands.”
Demands? I sighed. “Ok, let’s hear ’em.”
For the next 2 hours we yelled and wheedled and negotiated our various desires and demands until finally The Rules that would govern our lives til death did us part were all written down on the pad before us.
Here’s just a sample of what we’d agreed to when the dust settled and the tears dried.
Her demands of me: no more washing dirtbikes in the bathtub (she never forgave me for a gasoline fire that broke out in the drain one time and burned her foot)…sex at least three times a week (at the time I was working overnights and this was sometimes an issue)…NO MORE FARTING AND BLAMING HER WHEN COMPANY IS OVER (this one underlined, starred, and all caps)…any good porn I find must be bookmarked for her, not just described to her…she gets to watch “Fried Green Magnolias of Endearment” without me pretending to vomit every 5 minutes.
My demands of her: never, ever wax my back hair again…concede that leggings are pants…wear leggings…don’t cry if I bring a horse in the house…do not go north of Size 6….popsicles and beer for dinner will be accepted graciously…when you’re on your period remember that you have at least two other perfectly acceptable alternate inputs.
In addition, we agreed to a strict division of labor: I would do all the cooking, including all the shopping for said, and all the cleanup afterwards, in return for her mowing the lawn, working on the cars and motorcycles, shoveling the drive in winter, doing any house repairs needed, and taking care of all paperwork and finances. (This was her suggestion, btw. As she put it, “I will probably only have to re-shingle the roof every 15 years. YOU have to cook every fucking day. Sucker.“)
We would each be responsible for our own laundry (her insistence, citing my predilection for throwing everything into the machine and setting it to “HOT” no matter how shrinkable). Minor chores like vacuuming and de-worming the dog would be a “whomever gives in first” kind of thing.
When we were finally satisfied that we hadn’t left anything off we each signed our names, shook hands, and left. The next morning we got married.
For the most part that list served us very well over the ensuing decade and a half. Oh sure there have been times where one of us has been sick, or away, and the other had to cross columns. But overall we’ve stuck adamantly to the terms. Frankly, I found it very advantageous not having to think about who’s responsibility it was when various situations have arisen (perhaps because “various situations” don’t generally involve cooking, my one and only real responsibility).
Fast forward to yesterday. Our fifteenth wedding anniversary. The crystal anniversary.
I’m sitting at work writing my news when I get an e-mail from NewWifey(tm). “Wanna meet at Lena’s for lunch?”
Lena’s is this incredible Italian restaurant we’ve been going to ever since NewWifey(tm) discovered it shortly after moving here. Lena’s mother, a wizened old nonna who’s been churning out eggplant rollatini and zuppa di pesce since she stepped off the boat from Sicily and opened the place, still runs the kitchen and cooks most of the dishes. NewWifey(tm) loves it so much that she asked them to cater our reception. When they told they don’t do catering, she badgered them until they did. (We also had a BBQ place in Kansas City airlift out tons of ribs, brisket, and sides so NewWifey(tm)’s midwestern relations didn’t start a revolt.)
So meeting at Lena’s for lunch on our wedding anniversary seemed The Thing To Do. I wrote back, “Sure! Wear something nice.”
At 1 o’clock I finished my last newscast, turned everything off, and headed to Lena’s. I walked in the door at 1:30 on the dot, and the waiter told me my wife was already seated at our usual table. He gave me a funny look.
I walked past the bar, made a right, and there, midway down, against the wall, seated at “our table”, was NewWifey(tm).
Wearing her full wedding dress.
I sat down across from her and set my wrapped present on the table. She didn’t look up.
“Ahhhhh” I said, “When I wrote ‘wear something nice’….”
“Shut up” she hissed. “You think I want to be sitting here looking like a bride who got cold feet and ran off to an Italian restaurant? Everyone’s looking at me! On top of that, I’m in my wedding gown and…RED SAUCE!”
“So why did you wear it?”
She looked back down. “I can’t get out of it” she said through gritted teeth. “In a fit of nostalgia I decided to wear this later tonight as a surprise for you, but needed to see if it still fit. I weigh almost exactly the same as I did at our wedding, after all. But I guess my weight must have, ah, ‘redistributed’ itself a bit since I had the dress fitted.” She stopped.
“Yeah, ok, so your butt got bigger and your boobs shrank.” I shrugged. “Welcome to middle age. How does that keep you from getting the dress off, though?”
She glared at me. “Did you ever put on a wedding dre-” she held up her hand when she saw me eagerly starting forward. “Stop. I don’t wanna know. Anyway, you – I – put on these dresses backwards if you’re alone. That way you can zip up the back in front of you. Then you spin the whole thing around so the back is in back again, and off you go.”
“Ok, I got that” I said. “And it looks like you did too. It’s zipped up in the back and everything. Bravo. Now, what’s the problem? Just spin it back, unzip, and you’re free. Right?”
“You’d think so.” She stared off into space. “But, see, as I was zipping up my boobs kept getting bigger and bigger…STOP THAT…don’t get your hopes up. It wasn’t boobage. It was stuff underneath my boobs getting compressed and squeezed upwards, like a water balloon. I just barely managed to rotate the dress around, by pushing the overhang back in and tugging like mad. I have to say, it looked great. But when I went to rotate it around again so I could unzip it….” She trailed off again.
“You couldn’t” I said.
“It was like trying to rotate body paint” she said. “The dress was dragging all my skin along as it turned.” She looked glumly down at her scungilli salad. “Oh yeah. Here.” She listlessly pushed a small wrapped gift box across the table. “Happy anniversary.”
“Why didn’t you call me?” I said. “I could have come home, sprung you, then driven us back down together.”
“BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE A FUCKING PHONE!” she hiss-screamed at me.
(That’s not *quite* true. I do have a fucking phone, but it’s an ancient 2-G flip phone that doesn’t text and has a calling radius of about as far as the average person can yell. Also, I rarely bother to turn it on.)
She lowered her voice again. “I didn’t want to stand you up on our anniversary, so I bit the bullet and just drove down like this. Do you have any idea how much fun it was trying to stuff this much fabric into a bucket seat? I almost couldn’t reach the pedals.” She stared down at the expanse of satin spilling down all around her, along with her newly impressive cleavage. “And now everyone is staring at me. They must think I’m a freak, or worse.”
She was certainly right about that. Everyone WAS staring at her. But she was wrong about their ridicule. Because we were in a real Italian restaurant, filled with real Italian people, in a part of the world known as “Italy 2.0” (New Jersey), the exact opposite was true.
There are two things Real Italians love more than anything else in the world (other than the Pope)(when he’s Italian): food, and wildly theatrical expressions of romance. So when I finally showed up and all the other patrons realized NewWifey(tm) was NOT a jilted or escaping bride, and then saw us exchanging presents, they were oltre la Luna and thought, ‘She must be wearing that gown as an expression of love for her husband, and damn what anyone else thinks of it. Come magnifico!’
I know this because soon, starting first as a trickle of one or two, then eventually to the entire restaurant, other patrons began coming up to us offering their congratulations. And by “offering” I mean “thumping us – both of us – hard on the back and buying us drinks”. For maybe 40 minutes we sat there while our chicken picatta got cold and our semifreddo got warm, shaking hands, answering questions (“Why you no make babies??“), and downing endless shots of sambuca, grappa, and “Lena-tini’s”, a house special concoction consisting of 2 parts 100-proof vodka to 1 part 80-proof vodka. And a grape.
Finally everyone wandered back to their own tables and we were free to resume whatever the hell it was we had been doing. One thing about that much alcohol combined with that much back thumping: NewWifey(tm) sure forgot about her dress. And everything else for that matter.
Except one thing.
“I wanna…nnnnn….I wannnnnna….wannnna…renegotionate our pre-nup….”
I was pretty ossified myself, but that snapped me right out of it. “Oh honey, no. No you don’t. Let’s wait til tomorrow and see how you feel.”
She didn’t even hear me. With that awful deliberation that drunks have, she carefully reached into her purse and pulled out a pen. Then slowly, carefully, she leaned over and pulled a clean place mat from the table next to ours. Then she began to write.
She scrawled “15 Year Anniversary Renegotiation” across the top, then our names over two drawn columns.
“Ok, let’s see.” she stuck the pen in her mouth and closed her eyes. It looked like she was deep in thought, weighing issues that would forever affect the remaining years of our marriage. But it was more likely she just nodded off for a few minutes. I let her stay there while I tucked in to another cannoli. Finally she gave a snort and jerked her head up, then began writing again.
“Alright, so it’s agreed.” (I hadn’t said anything.) “I pretty much promise to do everything I promised last time. I won’t get fat (she wrote down “no more than 135 pounds before lunch”), I’ll still mow the lawn and clear snow off the drive, I’ll let my hair grow back out, and some other stuff.” And she wrote it all down, including the “other stuff”, some of which apparently made sense to her at the time but neither of us can figure out now.
Then she said, “And you…you will keep feeding me, and setting up my coffee machine before you go to bed so I have it ready every morning.” She jotted that down, thought a minute. “No wait. I want TWO fresh cooked meals a day, not just one. In return, you don’t have to make me coffee.” She scratched coffee off the list. “Um, what else? Oh yeah, when your girlfriend (what she calls my little old lady/golf buddy/ personal physician who sometimes comes over to play video games with me) comes over you have to vacuum the floor before she gets here. And…and…(she looked around the restaurant at all the laughing people and the sharply dressed wait staff and the neatly arranged table settings) I wanna eat out like this at least once a month. You cook great, but it’s so fucking classy here, you know? I wanna do this again. And there’s some other stuff, too.”
She wrote it all down, including the “other stuff” that again, we both are mystified by today.
Finally, at the bottom, she wrote in large letters, “MORE LOVIN’!”
“More lovin’?” I said. “How can I love you even more than I already do?”
She gave me an incredulous look. “What are you, retarded?” She crossed a line through the word “Lovin'” and block printed above it, “SEX!”
“Oh” I said. “Right. Stupid alcohol. Sorry.”
“Ok, now sign it” and she held the pen out, waggling it right under my nose.
“This wasn’t much of a renegotiation” I said. “I didn’t have any input at all.”
She waggled harder. “Sign. It.”
I signed it, knowing full well it would immediately be consigned to the bottom of her purse with the other 47 pounds of crumpled crap that was deemed of utmost importance at the time. (I also signed using the chat room name I used when I first met her. That way it wouldn’t be binding. She didn’t notice.)
“Great. And now we can open our presents!” She folded the place mat in four and stuffed it in her purse. “Me first!”
She tore open the box I’d brought in, and squealed. It was a set of four “Marquise by Waterford” crystal white wine glasses, something she’d been pining for for several years. We have a set of four of the red wine glasses, but every time we have guests over for dinner we have to rinse the glasses between courses if there are different wines, because that’s all we have. She’s always wanted to be able to say, “Oh no, I’ll set out the white wine glasses for this Sancerre. It’s a much better choice!” Now she can. I got a big kiss, and applause from the rest of the diners.
Her box was decidedly smaller, but I was blown away when I opened it. It was a Movado Museum Watch, brand new, not Craigslist.
I’ve always kinda had a thing for watches, and for years the one I’ve dreamed of someday owning is the Movado Museum Watch. You’ve seen it, I’m sure. It’s got a black face with no numbers, just a large gold dot where the 12 is. For some reason, that’s always done it for me. But at several hundred dollars more than I’m willing to spend on even a used car, it’s always been just a pipe dream.
“How…what…how….” I couldn’t even think to form a sentence.
She smiled large, knowing she’d really scored this time. “You know my little business finally turned a profit last year, right?” True. The first two years she operated at a loss, but some publicity in high profile magazines and a new, popular line turned the tide last year, and she finally inched into the black. Nothing we could retire on, but enough to at least keep herself self sustaining, with a bit to spare. She was justifiably proud. “Anyway, I’ve always wanted to get you something really nice, something you really really wanted but would never think to get yourself, to show you how much I appreciate your support for my little venture. I hope you like it.” She sat back, basking in the glory of her own gesture…and another round of applause from the gallery.
I really was aghast. Aside from the fact that it was a great present in and of itself, I also knew that, yes, her business actually did make some money last year. But not so much that this Swiss timepiece did not represent a very, very large portion of her earnings to date. This was not only a thoughtful gift, but one practically on the level of “Gift of the Magi” generous. I actually started to mist over thinking about it.
“But, I thought it was the ‘crystal anniversary'” I said. “Why a watch?”
“Dummy. Watches have crystals, right? That’s what they call the glass over the face, right? Why? Do you want to return it over a technicality?”
I grabbed the watch and quick jammed it into the water pitcher in front of us.
“I can’t now. I think I just voided the warranty. Oh well.” I put it on and silently dared her to try to take it back.
We sat there for another hour or so until our blood alcohol levels returned to something approximating legal. Then we gathered up our presents and the seven doggie bags that various customers and Lena herself gifted us, and drove home. I first had an interesting time folding and scrunching seven square yards of satin wedding dress around an SUV seat so NewWifey(tm) could sit without banging her head on the car roof, but we managed. No problemo after that.
Once we got home and carried everything up the stairs I said, “Turn around. I’ll unzip you so your body can repatriate its various parts.”
She looked at me, then grabbed her purse and fished around inside. She pulled out the menu and pointed to the last line.
“What does it say there, Buster? ‘More SEX’, that’s what. And you signed it!”
“Yeah, but, don’t you want to get out of that dress?”
She looked down at the bulging masses being squeezed up and over the dress’s low neckline. She looked at me.
“C’mon, when am I ever gonna have boobage like this again? And haven’t you ever wanted to fuck a girl in a wedding dress? You know you have. Go for it, buddy!”
“Can I leave my new watch on?”
So I did. And you know what? Boobage ROCKS. I can’t wait for our 20th so she does it again.
What also rocked was the post-coital Alsatian pinot blanc in those Waterford glasses. I mean, it had been HOURS since we last got drunk by then. What kind of anniversary celebration is that?
Now, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of misty-eyed reminiscing, here are a couple of shots of that wacky, loud, ridiculous, and very typical of our lives ever since, wedding 15 years ago.
My wife decked her bike out in a veil, and was her maid of honor. She wired a top hat to my (brand new) bike’s handlebars, making it my best man. We rode them to the altar, racing around our startled guests from either side, then got off and hopped up to a ledge where the ceremony lady stood. I wore a cap that said “GROOM” on it instead of a helmet (although you can’t make out the letters in the pics, sadly).
The official picture right afterwards. Man and bike. Er, wife:
(She’s proudly holding up the hem of her dress that got caught in the chain when she first dropped the clutch. Kudos to her for not getting thrown over the bars chin first into the dirt. THAT’S a talent all wives should have.)
Back at the reception, in our back yard under a tent, she took that number plate off her bike and with great ceremony attached a new one with her married name and the number “1”. She’d just won the New England Women’s Class season championship, and that was her new number. W00t! The old plate? Tossed backwards over her head to the gathered single ladies, instead of a bouquet. Of course.
I guess I have to abide by it now. It’s on the internet.
Ok, I think I’ve pretty much exhausted everything I’ve had to say regarding our little love-fest. That is, til the next anniversary. Stay tuned!
Ciao, kids. Love ya.
ps. FWIW, I go under the knife for my elbow reconstruction surgery on the 22nd of this month. If you don’t hear from me for a while, that’s why.