My birthday, about 2 months after marrying B. I think my face says it all: "Good God, what have I done?"
After my last article, on meeting the love of my life while married to someone I didn't love, a lot of you asked the perfectly valid question: Why did you marry him in the first place, dumbass? OK, none of you said “dumbass.” But it was implied.
This is a story from long, long ago, in a world where you could still run through airport without getting to third base with security. It was an innocent time, folks.
Before I get started, please note that this article is basically a list of all the stupid decisions I’ve made, so you may find yourself smacking your forehead a lot in frustration. Maybe put on a helmet before you continue?
I had just graduated from Ohio University. You might assume that I had a job lined up, or at least some interviews, but you’d be wrong. Because that would be the smart thing to do. No, I had no contacts, no interviews, no internships. Nothing. Before the ink on my diploma was dry, I immediately set about looking for a good job and brushing up on my interviewing skills. Hahaha, no I didn’t. I went out drinking every night and took a part time job as a cell phone salesperson.
One night I found myself with -- gasp! -- an evening with no plans. As that was unacceptable, I tried in vain to drag my roommate out with me, but she was planted in her recliner and would not budge. I finally talked another friend of mine into going out.
We went to a bar where I kind of knew one of the bartenders, as we had attended the local branch of Ohio University together. My friend and I had the full attention of the bartenders, because we were totally hot. Plus it was a Thursday night and we were pretty much the only ones in there. But mostly because of the hot thing.
After a few nights of flirting, the bartender and I started dating. He was my “summer fling,” I thought.
I was constantly hung-over at work and probably got 12 hours of sleep total in the first month we dated. For me it was a freedom I had never experienced before (more on that some other time). He stayed at my apartment most nights because he still lived at home with his parents.
The bartender (I feel weird constantly calling him that, so I’ll just call him B) and I had nothing real in common. But that’s easy to ignore when you’re hammered out of your mind 80% of the time.
We soon became the couple everyone loved to have around. If we were in high school, we would have been Class Couple. It sounds really dumb, but I had never been “popular” or outgoing in high school or college. I never had a huge group of friends who looked up in delight when I walked in. It was a good feeling.
And I think that’s part of why I let our relationship go to the next level. I wanted to hang on to that feeling. And I thought the fact that we were so different was a good thing. It “balanced us out,” I thought. Yin and yang. Opposites attract. We would work out because we weren’t too much alike. Isn’t that the stupidest thing you ever heard?
Does your forehead hurt yet from smacking it? I told you to wear a helmet!
Summer turned in to fall. We were all getting really tired of the song “Bootylicious.” My roommate and I had words because of B constantly being over and us being noisy and inconsiderate. She wanted me to move out.
I was “in love” with B, but still wasn’t thinking of settling down. I had family near Savannah, Georgia and thought about moving down there to be close to them. I was mulling over this plan when B and I had dinner that night. B got a panicked look on his face and blurted out, “I think we should get married.”
WHAT? This was October, so we had been dating about five months. He fumbled for an explanation, but it basically came down to this: He didn’t want me to leave and he was afraid someone else would snatch me up. So what was the solution? Get married, of course!
I swear I am not making this up, you guys. That was my first marriage proposal. “I don’t want anyone else to have you, so let’s get married.” What’s even sadder is that after thinking about it, I said yes.
Our honeymoon photos perfectly illustrate our relationship. See the teeny figure with her arms up? That's me, after B bounded to the bottom of the pyramid & left me to fend for myself. Have I mentioned I'm scared of heights?
Before he even “proposed,” there were red flags all over the place:
1) He told racist jokes, even though he knew I hated them. He was a country boy, so it’s not that shocking that he would be a little redneck-ish. But I explicitly told him many, many times how much I hated them. He would apologize. Then like 10 minutes later he would be at it again.
2) I mentioned in my previous article that he didn’t “get” my short story. Not only that, he didn’t read. At all. But I’m a writer, so I love books. I love newspapers, I love magazines. I’ll read the back of a cereal box, I don’t even care. He told me he thought reading was “a waste of time.” A WASTE OF TIME. So my entire life’s goal was a waste of time, apparently.
3) I mentioned that we both drank a lot. But he drank, like way more than a lot. He drank-until-he-passed-out-a-lot. By the time fall came around, I was done with the party scene. But for him it wasn’t a summer thing. It was his life.
I could mention many, many more, but those were the main three. And these came up BEFORE he proposed. But I was so caught up in being the “fun couple” that everyone loved that I didn’t want it to end. And I thought, as I think a lot of girls in their mid-20s think, that it would all work out.
And so you don’t think I’m just painting him as the bad guy, I’m sure I wasn’t a treat for him, either. I hated all the stuff he was into. He loved to fish and hunt and camp but my idea of “outdoorsy” was lying by the pool with a magazine. He was a “foodie” before that was even a thing, and liked to experiment with all kinds of exotic dishes. But back then I lived on fast food and frozen pizza. I didn’t like any of the stuff he cooked me.
He could never sit still and always wanted to do something or be somewhere, whereas most of the time I just like to be a homebody and curl up with a book. So we just didn’t go together.
But I think once he proposed and I said yes, we got caught up in the moment and it was romantic for a while. Once the euphoria wore off we both felt sort of stuck. And neither of us wanted to be the one to say it wasn’t working.
We fought a lot through our engagement, and I think it was one of us trying to get the other one to end it. But the one thing we had in common? Stubbornness. Not a good trait to share, y’all.
So my advice to you, I guess, is if you look at your relationship and the only thing you have is a shared love for Captain Morgan, that’s not enough to get you through life together. Probably. Unless you’re Jimmy Buffet. OK, I’ll stop now.