Well, time sure flies, because once again this week it was our wedding anniversary. And while this one passed without major “incident”unlike some of them, in reflecting, it seems that it was evident early in our life together that romance was going to take a bit of a back seat to practicality.
For example, back then, who got married on December 1st, except of course people who were putting together a quick wedding and couldn’t wait until June because they would be a family by then? We did – for the romantic reason that back in those days I worked in an accounting office. In 1979 the tax laws were such that a husband only had to claim the wife’s income from the date of marriage – so he actually got to claim me as a dependent for the whole year, meaning that our income tax refund paid for our 2 week Bahamas honeymoon. Now that’s Amore.
Even as we departed the next day on our honeymoon, our dreamy, romantic resolve was tested. In an ironic twist, we were the only married people on a plane load of “PWPs” – Parents without Partners. And man, THOSE people could party. It was the one week a year they got away from their kids. We weren’t even off the tarmac and they were sitting on each other’s laps lighting up smokes (you could do that then), blasting music and conga-dancing down the aisle – and making snide comments about how we were sure to become “future members”.
Then fast forward a couple of years to an anniversary that we decided to celebrate by going to a romantic lodge in Haliburton. We made our way to the quaint destination, and when we booked in, we were informed that we were the only non-members of a family reunion that was taking place at the lodge. They had booked all the rooms plus the cabins. We both got dressed up into our nice evening wear to go have our anniversary dinner in the dining room downstairs, and found it completely full of the very loud, very boisterous “Mc-Something” clan. We attempted to hold hands and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, but it was somewhat diminished by the fact that the family reunion people had selected this night to hold a “funny hat contest”. It’s hard to sustain that come hither “look of love” glow when you’re interrupted and asked to pass the salt by a man wearing toilet paper roll antlers at the next table. We finally adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” attitude, and instead of spending the rest of the evening reminiscing about our wedded bliss, we cleaned up at their Euchre tournament.
One downside of a December anniversary is that you are also competing with the Christmas party crowd. Another time – our 10th , we went to a very nice upscale restaurant in our town, and it was SUCH a big deal because by now we had a couple kiddies so we usually only dined out under golden arches. This night, with Grandma babysitting, once again we’re all decked out in our finery, and they sat us in a room at a cute little table for 2, right beside a long table that sat about 24 people from a local firm celebrating their Christmas party. There were non-stop speeches and service awards all night. (It sounded like a nice place to work. I made a mental note to send them a resume.) Ever impressionable, I found myself wishing I had thought to get hubby a 10 year plaque.
Of course there have been lots of anniversaries since that one – and this year we took practical to a whole new level. I stopped at the drug store the other night to pick up an anniversary card, and lo and behold, found my beloved in the same aisle, on the same mission. But he had already been to one store and come up empty handed. He explained that there were none that expressed his feelings. I completely get that. He likes to get the sentimental cards, and couldn’t find any that said “I love you, moreso when you aren’t being a bitch”. And as per usual, the ones I looked at for him all had me gagging and laughing out loud, – not because he isn’t wonderful, but I’ve just never been able to pull off a “You complete me” with a straight face. My go-to card usually mentions something about stealing the covers, or pictures of a couple of cute dogs snuggled up together, and the sentiment is implied and unspoken. So in this instance, instead of actually purchasing cards, we just pointed out to each other the ones that we would have purchased. (I went the high roller route and chose the pricey “sound” one that blared Shania Twain’s classic “You’re Still the One”.) Then we spent the $10 on lottery tickets instead, and left the store.
Then yesterday, on our actual anniversary, we very practically went to a restaurant where we’ve accumulated a substantial number of “VIP” points, and we need to use them up, because we think we won’t be going there much in the future. First we had to wait at the bar because neither of us even thought of making a reservation. The romantic ambiance was established almost immediately, as they had an Ultimate Fighting show on the bar tv, and there were numerous scenes of heavily tattooed, bald and buff fighters with cauliflower ears and blood coming out of their mouths. Romantic AND appetizing.
The hostess then sat us in a booth beside the entertainment (that’s new), a 70 ish Scottish man with a guitar who started up the minute we were seated, singing loud mournful ballads, with the odd Jimmy Buffett and Roger Miller thrown in for good measure. Conversation was out of the question. So, not wanting the evening to be a total bust, in my mind the evening focus shifted from romantic dinner to mouth-full sing-alongs of “Those Were the Days”, and “Trailer for Sale or Rent”. Hubby was unphased by my impromptu booth-side Karaoke. After all these years he knows that if there’s music and I know the words, I can’t resist. And truthfully, knowing the real words isn’t a deal breaker.
At the end of our day though, we carried out our ritual of getting out the wedding album and looking at the skinny bride with the sausage roll flipped hair, and the dress that copied the one in the Rocky movie, and the lean groom with the jet black hair, mutton chops and Magnum PI moustache.
Those Parents Without Partners may have been half right. After all these years, we may be a bit lighter on the romance – but we are PWPs. Partners who are Practical.