Tag Archives: marriage

Help, I Married a Gum Litterer

14 May

It’s a miracle that I’m able to write today during such a difficult time. Here’s the problem: I just found out that my wife is a litter bug.

I’ve been asking myself: Should I alert the authorities? Should I file for a divorce?

I know. It’s not like she killed someone. She littered.

But before you stop reading because you think I’m a crazy person, know this: she’s not your typical public nuisance, she’s a chewing gum litterer, an assault to shoes all over Madison County.gum-dailymail

The first time I stepped in someone’s chewed gum, as a kid in the early ‘80s, I instantly hated all people who had ever spit their gum out on the sidewalk and hated unborn people who would someday spit their gum out on the sidewalk for innocent people–kids like me!–to step on while wearing their favorite and fastest pair of running shoes. (I didn’t particularly care for those who even had a passing thought of disposing of their gum improperly, but thought better of it. If you’re related to someone who has spit their gum out on a sidewalk, I hate you. I hate everyone!)

It’s a cruel twist of fate that I would end up married to one of those people.

I found out from our responsible (non-littering) fourteen-year-old daughter.

Here’s how it went down. While pulling out of our local Home Depot, my wife removed her well-chewed gum of indeterminate brand and flavor and chucked it across the front seat and out of the passenger side window onto the ground. She kept driving and apparently didn’t look back. The gum practically zipped right under our daughter’s nose, so I have no reason to doubt her account of this incident.

Obviously, it’s difficult to admit that I’m married to this woman. We took vows and stuff!

When confronted, she shrugged and said she was trying to throw it in a bush. Like that makes it okay.

You’ve probably stepped in chewing gum too. What a mess, huh? Maybe you went through the familiar stages: confusion (Why does it feel as if my right foot is partially sticking to the ground at every step?); anger (I’m going to break the friggin’ neck of whoever left their gum here!); uncertainty (How am I going to get this gum off my shoe without touching it?);  resignation (I’m going to throw this fouled shoe into that pond and walk home with one bare foot!); and finally, practicality and acceptance (I’ll scrape off what I can with this stick and deal with the rest later.)

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Of course, I’m not perfect. I littered like a madman as a teenager. I would eat an entire McDonald’s meal while driving and, without guilt, toss all evidence of its existence–including the receipt and straw wrapper–right out the window. But I stopped littering during the Clinton administration. Before Monica Lewinsky! Over the years, to avoid littering, I have swallowed enough chewing gum to choke a stable of thoroughbreds.

And I thought she stopped too.

There were signs.

Two years ago she tossed a banana peel from a moving car and seemed surprised at my disgust.

Her response: What? It’s organic! It’s not littering when it’s food.A discarded, gross banana peel

We’ve all seen a rotten banana peel on the sidewalk or side of the road. It’s not pleasant. And here’s something I have never said during such an encounter: “Oh look, some thoughtful citizen has started a compost heap right here in downtown Edwardsville.”

I think it’s safe to say that no person has ever said that about food scraps thrown from a car window.

But it’s my nature to find the silver lining in sour situations. And here’s mine. I realize that I have raised a daughter who, instead of repeating such a foul act, would report it. Obviously, gum littering is not okay with her or she would not have even thought to tell me about it. Thankfully, after being raised by one littering parent and one non, she has taken the path NOT fouled with globs of synthetic rubber.

Like her father, she wraps her chewed gum in its wrapper that was thoughtfully saved and placed in a pocket, or, again, like her father, she dutifully chews gum that long ago lost its pliability and flavor until it can be disposed of properly.

No, this won’t end our marriage, but we’re going to renew our marriage vows to reflect our current reality. I’m working on a couple of spots where I can insert some common sense.

Until death or gum litter do us part.

And, I promise to be true to you until you throw something gross from a moving car.

Let me know what you think.


Marital Conflict #34,342: Over the Hedge

15 Apr


Occasionally I like to present marital conflicts in this space for educational purposes. If you’re a human you know what I’m talking about. Married people can’t agree on much of anything. If I tried to write about every marital conflict that pops up in our home my fingers would be bloody stubs by now. So I pick and choose.

This conflict is about what we decide to bring into our house and store for (possibly) decades. As you may know this is a serious topic to me.

This morning I went into the garage to find an umbrella and noticed the unboxed hedge trimmer on the floor. Jennifer bought this hedge trimmer two weeks ago. Her dad owns a hedge trimmer. Her dad lives an hour away and visits regularly. We need a hedge trimmer one time a year, in the Spring. We used his hedge trimmer last Spring.

You can probably guess what’s going on here. I would like to return the hedge trimmer, borrow her dad’s hedge trimmer, and knock out all the hedge trimming on a Saturday afternoon.

Why I want to return the hedge trimmer:

  • I’m a fan of collaborative consumption. Start a tool library in your neighborhood.
  • I don’t want to find a place to store the hedge trimmer
  • I don’t want to look after and maintain the hedge trimmer for forty years.
  • I don’t want my daughters, after their parents’ deaths, to be responsible for disposing of an old hedge trimmer.

My wife is not around at the moment to list the benefits of hedge trimmer ownership, but her reasoning at the time of purchase was that she needed to trim the hedges and cut back the fountain grass RIGHT NOW. That was two weekends ago. Her dad has been to our house twice.

Please, if you know my wife–and I know some of you do–reach out to her, see if you can douse her hedge trimmer ownership ambitions. Maybe say something offhand and subtle like “I think you should return that hedge trimmer to Home Depot and go eat at Sugo’s with the refund.”

If you think we really do need a hedge trimmer, I would love to take a peek into your cluttered garage.

Marriage is Like an Old Sock in a Landfill

8 Jan


I’m married. That means I’m not just one person. A part of me died (not saying this is ALL bad) on our “got married” day and I have this other partial human attached to me. And I’m not saying she is part monster or beast or anything like that. I mean that part of her died too and what’s left of her is attached to what’s left of me. It’s a messy situation calling for a big needle and much thread.

Anyway, I can’t do whatever the hell I want like before. I have a wife looking over my shoulder. That’s marriage, for better or worse. I think she would describe it similarly. Marriage just isn’t all Bright and Rosy. Sometimes it’s Dark and Crappy.

The good parts are boring, though, so I rarely write about them. The bad bits suck when experiencing them, but writing about them later can be fun and cathartic. That’s what I’m going to do this morning. With a big creepy smile on my face, I’m going to give you some “dark and crappy.”

But, really, it’s nothing that bad. BAD is what I overheard Saturday night in books-a-million. I sat down with my coffee next to an intense, public argument between a couple in the midst of some financial crisis. I gathered that he spends too much money on hunting gear and has an unpaid for Harley in the garage that rarely gets any ass. He mentioned pulling the kids from private school. Crying, she said she’d rather home-school before she’d put them in public schools. Serious stuff.

Now I feel silly about our problems, but I’m going to trudge on with this. Just because we have no serious problems now doesn’t mean we won’t some day. I mean, I’m sure we will. That’s life.

It’s important to note that we both recycle, Freecycle, compost, drive a Prius, and all of that annoying “tree hugger” stuff.tree_hugger_opt

The dashboard of our car displays the cumulative miles per gallon. Last week we had a real argument about who was responsible for lowering our mpg from 50 to 47.9. Seriously. Go ahead and groan. We argued about an unimportant digital reading that’s probably not accurate anyway.

When we bought the car, she read online about how she could alter her driving habits to obtain the best gas mileage. Later she bragged about her efficient driving performance, while criticizing my gas pedal feathering skills, or lack thereof. I don’t pay much attention to the number and I rarely drive. But this weekend I noticed the 47.9 and, kidding, said “Oh, what happened to your 50 mpg you were bragging about?”

Of course she blamed me even though we were wrapping up a week in which she had driven it 210 miles to work and back and I had driven it 4 miles taking Chloe to a friend’s house. I’m still arguing about it in my head, but, really, who knows why the number dropped and who gives a f*@k, right?

Okay, second story: I mentioned last post about remodeling our family room. This was Jennifer’s idea and she got the project moving by hiring her dad to do most of the work.

Her project created 20 cubic yards of garbage that’s now languishing in a landfill. In the month of garbage accumulation I said NOTHING about how that junk will be sitting there for hundreds of years.  I understand her wanting to update the family room; she spends more time in there than anyone. Whatever.


Not our bag of socks

So yesterday in the basement bathroom I felt a strange coldness on the heel of my right foot. I thought There cannot be a damn hole in this sock already. But I looked and, darn-it, there it was, a quarter-sized hole. I peeled it and tossed it into the garbage.

Then last night we were both in that same bathroom and, after spotting the discarded sock, she says “That sock would make a perfectly good dust rag. It doesn’t need to go to the landfill.”


The most awesome part of this story for me is I didn’t say a word. I could have said: “Your recent decisions sent three thousand pounds of trash to the landfill and you’re calling me out for throwing a sock in the garbage?

I lifted the sock from the garbage and set it out (for show) knowing that I’d re-toss it at some point in the next twelve hours.

(I put it back in the garbage this morning. We hire to have our house cleaned and they bring their own dust rags. And if I saved every ruined sock from a family of four we’d have bags full of “dust rags” that would still be with us when we die. Our girls, going through our junk, would be like “Why the hell did our bizarro parents hoard all these old socks?”)

Well, I feel better and I’m out of coffee.


It’s Thanksgiving and I am in HELL

23 Nov

I am in hell.

I’m trapped in a rolling 110 cubic feet of space with one other human for three hours in a span of eight. Other human is in the driver’s seat. Human driver declares: DRIVER MUST BE COMFORTABLE.

Between us, available to human driver ONLY: on/off radio with volume adjustment knob, on/off interior “climate control” with temperature adjustment knob.

I have no headphones. No battery powered fan. No ice cubes. No gun. No pills.

Exterior atmospheric conditions: 55°F. Sunny.

I notice temperature of cramped interior space is comfortable 70°F. Human driver twists temperature knob to Red Zone. I send sideways glance to human driver. Interior temperature climbs to 85°F within minutes. I take my thin hooded sweatshirt off. I sense moisture on my upper lip. The hair under my arms scream and wet themselves. My temples moisten. I become irritable. I take my t-shirt off. My bare chest glistens. I think about the pros and cons of taking my pants off. With eyes and mind, I eject human driver.

Simultaneous to heat punishment campaign, human driver turns radio volume to uncomfortably loud level. The sound waves bounce from the glass, shoot all around and assault my ear drums non-stop. I turn the volume down to 6. Human driver turns it up to 9. I turn to 6. Human turns to 8. I give up. I think about ear plugs. I think about gun. Helpless, sad. I look at watch six times in ninety seconds.

Simultaneous to heat and sound punishment campaigns, human driver introduces Mind-Fu*! campaign: Human driver switches radio station 400 times  in three hours. I think about movies: passenger jumps from moving car, survives without a scratch. I stare at door handle.

Station change. Station change. Station change. Two seconds of a song I like. Station change. What the F*!*! Station change. Bon Jovi. Thanksgiving can bite me. Human driver singing. Just kill me. Station change. Station change. Journey. Human driver singing. Two seconds of a song I think we both like. Station change. What the fu*!! Unidentified song from 1963. Human driver singing. Station change. Two seconds of a song I like. Station change. Two seconds of another song I like. Station change. Bon Jovi. Human driver singing. I wonder if there’s something pointy in the glove box? Station change. Unidentified song from 1974. Human driver singing. Unidentified song from 1978. Human driver singing. Prison can’t be THAT bad.

Sweat in eyes, headache emerging, desperation setting in, I weep quietly with head on cool glass. I notice brainless cows covered with flies and filth. Feel jealous.

I am in hell.

My Wife Stole my Salad and Wants me Dead

3 Oct

Crime is a huge problem in the United States. I just didn’t think it was a big deal in my own home. The following story proves I live with a thug who wants me to swallow glass and die.

* * *

First, some background on my salads. Erase from your mind what you think a salad is. My daily epic salads are created from a long list of ever-changing fruits and vegetables that I won’t bore you with. A “mega-salad” takes up to 30 minutes to make and contains up to 75% of my daily food intake. Once in awhile I can’t eat it all in one day.

This morning I opened the fridge to grab the leftovers of yesterday’s mega-salad. I instinctively reached for the spot where I last saw it. My hand stopped short and hung in the air for a beat, before I began shifting glass containers around and peering frantically behind pasta and salsa jars. It was gone. Gone, baby, gone. Jennifer, my own wife, who vowed on the day of our marriage to never steal salad from me, had placed her hand (probably her right) on a salad she knew would be missed, pulled it out, packed it in her lunch bag, and then drove it to Clayton, Missouri.

I’m not always salad-stingy. When I make public salads, I make it known: “Hey girls, come and have some of this salad!” This salad was a private meal, saved for a Wednesday breakfast.

With the fridge door still open, I shook my fist at the ceiling and yelled “Damn you to hell, wife!” (Not really)

So I went to work building a new salad that ended up weighing 20% more than a typical one. Here’s what I put in it (yes, I decided to go ahead and bore you): spinach, cucumber, grapes, apple, quinoa, wild rice, chickpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet peppers, green pepper, red onion, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, black pepper, garlic powder, unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, slivered almonds, and, finally, raw unsalted pumpkin seeds.

Not my glass of seeds.

When returning the pumpkin seeds to the cabinet, I banged the bottom of the jar against the shelf and the glass broke immediately (sabatoge?). The whole bottom of the jar plopped into my salad. The rest of the jar remained in my hand.

The sounds of this food disaster consisted of the initial crack of the glass and then small objects hitting the floor and counter all around me. But what did I hear? Glass? Seeds? Both? I lifted the glass from my bowl and then carefully inspected my salad for shiny slivers of glass. I walked over to stand directly under the overhead light and peered into the wild mix of foods. No visible glass.

I put the bowl down and fit the two pieces of jar together to see what kind of glass shards were missing from this transparent puzzle. They fit together damn good, but some glass was definitely missing. Damn.

My options: 1) Trash the salad  2) Eat the salad.

It should’ve been an easy choice, but remember how large and complicated this salad was?

I took a few tentative bites and told myself I could just eat it slow and maybe everything would be just fine. When I say “just fine” I mean no blood or ER visits.

I ate some more. And then some more.

I ate about 15% of it and I’ll be carefully eating the remaining 85% throughout the day.

If I die this week, this blog post will  be the only record of what REALLY happened.

If I die this week, my wife should be arrested and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Else, justice does not exist.

Being Married to Me Isn’t a Walk in the Park

2 Jul

Unless you’re always writing about it and putting it online.

Individuality (or selfhood) is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs or goals. Being self expressive, independent.

I’m been thinking about how much individuality one is expected to give up in marriage. Last night I read George Orwell’s essay, “Why I Write,” and was struck by this:

The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class.

I’m part of a family of four people and I wouldn’t change that, this isn’t about the line between marriage and divorce, but I agree with Orwell here. I’m fighting to hold onto my individuality; my fingernails are dug in; my legs are wrapped around it, but I’m up against the limits. She has her ideas of what life should be. I have mine. But where do these preferences come from?

We learn how we’re “supposed” to live from the media, the government, our parents, just about everywhere we look we’re being influenced. It’s baffling to me that these things are considered normal nowadays: television as #1 free time killer, retail therapy, eating junk food, lethargy, obesity, and materialism. Lifestyle diseases–AVOIDABLE diseases– like heart disease and diabetes are now accepted as a part of life.

So my preferred mode of living is to question everything. If I ask why THIS has to be done THAT way and you say “That’s just the way it is” or “It’s always been that way” or anything in that vein, I’m going to–I don’t know–scream real loud on the inside. I might rebel.

The big issues are where we choose to live, what we do with our time, what we do with our money, what kind of work we do. I can’t cover the biggies right now, but here’s some small stuff from recent events or conversations. And keep in mind that I’m not saying I have it all figured out and my wife is stuck in “conformity hell.” She would (and I encourage her to) write about her own life philosophy.

Food presentation. We had some family over last night. I pulled roasted asparagus from the toaster oven and grabbed a glass bowl to put it in. I was going to put in on the table. No, not the right way to do it I learned. Leave in on the baking pan in the kitchen. What’s really important about sharing a meal with family or friends? It’s the experience, the togetherness. Sure, the taste of the food fits in there somewhere, but it’s not nearly as important. And everything else? Pshaw! I think it would be neat to sit in a circle, cross-legged to eat a big meal … just for fun. I don’t care what kind of bowl the salad (or asparagus) is in. I don’t care if Uncle Barney likes to rub his food against his bald head before eating it. Husbands, if you’re “helping” in the kitchen and you feel like your wife has her eye on what you’re doing, remember, there are no “real” universal rules. Hold onto your individuality.

No playing ball in the house? She grew up hearing that, and so did I. She tells the kids the same thing maybe just because that’s what she learned growing up. It’s important to question everything you learned as a child because our parents are human and they certainly didn’t have all the answers. I “play ball” in the house with the girls all the time. Kids grow up and leave, so I need to have those moments with them now. I’m not going to squelch a game of “tackle monkey in the middle” over a rigid, inherited rule.  Husbands, are you going along with this rule? Stand up for yourself and put the issue to a democratic vote.

Landscaping. We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. Some people enjoy pulling weeds and planting flowers and digging holes and jumping on every stray leaf. That’s great, it’s good exercise and it’s a million times better than sitting in front of the television. Some see it as a neighborly competition (not good). I wanted to buy a condo where the outside was maintained by someone else. If I’d rather jog or go for a bike ride or read or write or study or learn or think or meditate, what are my obligations towards helping my wife with her idea of acceptable lawn aesthetics? I agree, if she needs help, I should be available. But should her priorities supersede mine? Should she get angry because we care about different things? If I give up my individuality to keep my wife happy, am I being “smothered under drudgery”?

Bed. We sleep in normal, American-style beds. Why? I guess because that’s what we had as children. In Japan they sleep on special futons that they roll up and put away during the day. Since before I knew about what they were doing in Japan, I rebelled against the American bed. What the hell is the box spring for? Why do I have to be up off the floor? I happily slept on the floor for years. If my individuality ends up costing me my married status, I already know that I’ll be rocking Japanese-style sleeping arrangements. During the day I’ll do yoga, push ups, jumping jacks, meditation, basket weaving, playing ball, or any number of activities IN MY BEDROOM. Space saving! (This leads to another issue: how big of a house does a family need? I definitely don’t have time to get into that now.)

Couch. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it brings me much joy. Jennifer bought a set of small couches that she tries to protect with much energy. She bought them knowing we had cats when we moved into our current house. Well, the cats have shredded the couches. If you want to put Jennifer in a bad mood, whisper “shredded couch” into her ear. Not that I do that. My wife has said (loudly) something like “Girls, don’t climb on the couch” over a hundred times in two years. I remember my mom was similarly protective of furniture.

Can you picture your childhood couch? Where is it now? If you climbed over the back of it did you add to its demise? Does anything having to do with that couch MATTER now? To me it doesn’t even matter now. If the kids are getting along and having fun, I’m good. More importantly, I don’t want them stressing over material possessions when they have their own kids. I tell them this: when you have your own kids, encourage them to play on the couch, but now, listen to you mother.

This scene in American Beauty sums it up for me. IT’S JUST A COUCH!

Local Man Doesn’t Know Why He Does That

7 Jun

Granite City, IL (AP) — A bewildered Pontoon Beach man, married for 15 years, couldn’t explain to his wife, who, allegedly, is “at the end of her goddamn rope ” exactly why he does that.

Friends of the couple say that the man does that because it’s just a part of his nature, that he can’t NOT do that. Reportedly, the wife knows this, but is fighting through some pre-midlife existential angst. Below is a partial transcript of one recent conversation.

Wife: Why do you do that? I mean, it’s just … weird.

Husband: What? What are you talking about?

Wife: You know what I mean; you’re a pig and I would prefer you stopped.

Husband: A pig? What the–

Wife: So … why? … why do you do that?

Husband: I don’t know. I just do. Everyone does it. You do it!

Wife: The hell I do! I don’t know anyone who does that. You’re 45 now. Grow. UP!

Husband: Listen to you. If it’s that big a deal I guess you’ll just have to file for a goddamn divorce, huh? That what you’re going after here?

Wife: Maybe I will. Or how about you just stop doing it? Would that be so hard? Jeez, you’re such an asshole!

Husband: Why should I change? I am who I am. Ever consider that? And maybe you’re the asshole. Hm? Ever think of that? You’re just set in your ways. Unflexible is what you are!

Wife: Ha ha ha. That’s not even a word, dork!

Husband: Not flexible! You’re NOT flexible. It’s a word to me!

Wife: Just … can you promise to stop doing it, okay? This is so stupid. I’m just … done. I’m done. I’m done.

Husband: No, I’m done. I’m outta here. I’m going for a walk.

Wife: Good! Take a looooong walk … right off a cliff, okay? Can you do that?

Husband: You’re insane.

Wife: Well you started it. This is all you–your bullshit.

Husband: Whatever.