Saturday, February 20, 2010

In which Sly gets mad that I didn't offer oatmeal

November 2009 I know. Yet another post about my failings as a hostess/human being/daughter in law. Same old same old. But I can't cut straight to the chase. You know. Their threatening not to come to the wedding. I have to work in some more background material about how awful they are. More character development, although I think you guys probably have gotten the picture by now. But really - there is more!

I am trying to figure out how to plot this thing. One of the purposes of this blog, other than to give me a Whining Forum, is for me to lay out what I hope will become the book that permits Primo quit his job and allows us to have a winter place on Key Biscayne.* A place that we will not tell Sly and Doris about. Thank God for cellphones, hey?

Sly and Doris cannot know about the book.** If they did, they would never talk to Primo again.

Which would be fine with me.

There are days when it would be fine with Primo. Those days are becoming more and more.

They definitely do not know about this blog. They may or may not know about my other, everyday blog. Primo and I negotiated for a long time about this blog. One of the conditions of this double-secret probation blog was that I not link from here to my regular blog - where Doris and Sly are never mentioned - or vice versa, just in case they googled my blog name and found the blogspot version of the journalspace blog that blew up last year. Primo gave them a vague answer when they asked if I was still blogging. "Oh, that site isn't working any more," he said.

Which is true. But didn't really answer the question.

But back to the post du jour. I apologize for skipping around and writing things out of order, but now you understand why. I am writing from notes and events as they come to mind. Once I am done getting everything on electrons, I will start shuffling and figure out what the order needs to be.

So. Where were we?

Ah. It's November of 2009. And Sly, as usual, is complaining about me to Primo. No, it does not bother me any more. It used to, until I realized he is just an irrational, bitter man who has decided not to like me for reasons that have nothing to do with me. (Bacon? Really? He doesn't like how I eat bacon?) Now, he is just a source of material for the book that is going to set us free. Hahahahaha. Keep talking, old man. I'm taking notes.

He tells Primo indignantly that when they were here for our wedding and stayed with us for NINEDAYSNINEDAYSNINEDAYS that I did not offer him oatmeal for breakfast.

Dear reader. Other than pointing out the obvious that Sly is complaining to Primo about something that happened OVER A YEAR AGO, may I offer my side of the story?

Suppose you are a guest in my home. On Sunday night, I show you where things are in the kitchen. You have arrived on Saturday, but on Sunday we make omelettes for breakfast and eat together, much to my misery. Well, if it were you, I wouldn't mind, but Sly and Doris. Shudder.

Sunday night, I show you the cold cereal, the Lactaid I have purchased for you because you are lactose intolerant for milk but not for $25/lb Carr Valley cheese (is it just me or does this cheese get more expensive every time I tell the story?), the eggs, the bacon, the bread, the butter, the jam, the bananas, the oatmeal, the pots, the pans, the coffee maker. Actually, we set up the coffee maker especially for you because at this point, Primo and I are not coffee drinkers.

I show you everything you might want to eat for breakfast because you, who are sleeping in the master bedroom (our bedroom, the one that does not require you to take stairs) next to the kitchen, might be getting up before I do and I do not want you to feel that you have to wait for me before you eat. You probably will be getting up earlier because you have come from an earlier time zone and your body clock will be getting you up sooner.

When I come down from the upstairs guest bedroom, I find you in the kitchen.

You are eating breakfast.

You are eating cold cereal with Lactaid.

You knew where the oatmeal was, where the pots were, where the stove was. You chose cold cereal.

I make myself some oatmeal.

Tell me, dear reader. Should I ask you if you want some oatmeal in addition to your cold cereal? Or should I assume that you have already breakfasted sufficiently?

On whom should the burden of the oatmeal be?

In version 2 of this story, if you want oatmeal the next morning but do not feel comfortable cooking in someone else's kitchen, should you 1) wait for the same scenario to repeat itself or 2) say, "That Woman, would you mind making some oatmeal for me tomorrow morning when you make yours?" Or should you just file this incident in your mind and sulk about it for 14 months?

* OK. I would settle for Primo just being able to take a sabbatical and a week at the beach.

** That doesn't mean I can't go on Oprah. They wouldn't be caught dead watching Oprah.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In which Sly assumes I read Primo's mail and also assumes Primo keeps Big Secrets from me

September 2008. Two weeks before our wedding.

Primo and I are driving back from a long weekend with friends. His phone rings. It's Sly. Primo tells Sly that we are in the car. Oh. Sly is surprised that I am present. He can't have the conversation that he wants to have with Primo.

Well, then. He asks Primo if Primo's email is "secure."

Huh? What does he mean by that?

Oh. Do I read Primo's email?

Of course not. First of all, we don't share an email address, unlike Sly and Doris, who, in an effort to save money, have a joint email account.

I joke.

But what is up with married couples who will not get their own email addresses? They are free, people. Freeeeeeeeee.

One friend said what did it matter that she and her husband shared an email, she told her husband everything anyhow. Gee thanks, I said. I had no idea you were passing all my personal confidences on to your husband. I will be sure to censor everything I tell you in the future. Like I need your husband to know about my Female Problems? Yes, women do talk about these things. No I do not your husband to know and guess what he does not want to know either.

Not that I think there should necessarily be secrets between spouses, but some things are None Of Primo's Business. For example, if a friend told me she was pregnant but swore me to secrecy because she had just found out and had not even told her mother, I would respect that. That secret would have nothing to do with Primo. I would never keep anything from him that had to do with him, but things that are none of his business are none of his business. By the same token, I do not expect him to share with me things his friends tell him in confidence.

Back to the "secure" email. No, I do not read Primo's email, even though I have been tempted. Sure, I've been in Primo's office and his email has been open and I've seen email from Isabel in the inbox. But I do not open it. I am not a snoop.

Well. Unless it is important. When I was in the Peace Corps, I had met this US embassy guy and gone out with him a few times. He was 32 and Had Not Yet Known Woman, if you know what I mean. I was in the capital and staying with him for two nights. He slept in his room, I slept in the guest room. He had gone to work and I was curious to know just what he thought might transpire that night.

So yeah, I looked in his nightstand.

Oh like you wouldn't.

In the top drawer there were three condoms.


On top of a towel that hid some skanky porn magazines that he must have brought from the US because they were in English, not in the local language. I didn't know why he thought he needed to hide the magazines.

What he thought might happen did not happen. After a few more dates, we did not go out any more, either. Nice guy, but we just weren't that into each other.

Primo and I can't figure out what Sly might want to discuss with him without my hearing.

"Maybe what they should get us for a wedding present?" Primo suggests.

Because Sly has to know that no matter what he tells Primo, eventually I will hear it. Primo's first loyalty is to me. Primo will not keep a secret about me from me. The only thing that Primo would keep a secret from me would be something that would benefit me in some way, like a present or a surprise party.

We speculate for a while. What kind of cool present might they be planning to get us? We've already told our families that we don't need anything, which is true. We are merging two complete households, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't like something neat, like a gift certificate to a restaurant we wouldn't otherwise consider or a season's subscription to the theater.

When we get home and Primo talks to his dad, we find out that no, it's not about a wedding present.

We find out that Sly and Doris are mad about something I wrote in my old blog.

We find out they aren't coming to the wedding.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In which we go to pre-marital counseling

January 2008 The real rules of divorce are to make sure you marry the right person in the first place. That way, you never need to follow Rule #1 of Divorce, which is to hire a lawyer. So maybe the real Rule #1 of Divorce should be Go to Premarital Counseling and that will help you Marry The Right Person.

Well. Premarital counseling won't help you marry the right person, but it sure will help you weed out the wrong one.

Oh how I wish this were a gossip site because y'all, the stories I could tell you about marriages I knew would fail.

The couples didn't go to pre-marital counseling.

I was all, "I CANNOT BELIEVE the pastor is marrying them. This one WILL NOT LAST."

And boy was I right. Didn't last two years.

But they are not my stories to tell.



After his starter marriage to Berthawhomhenevershouldhavemarriedinthefirstplace, Primo is a bit skittish. As well he should be. Because he blew it with her, both in the marriage and the divorce. Sorry, honey, but you know it's true. You're man enough to admit it and that's one of the things I love about you.

We decide to go to pre-marital counseling.

"Decide" is perhaps not the best verb to use. It is decided for us, as we (="I") want a Catholic marriage and the Catholic Church requires pre-marital counseling. Say what you will about the Church and organized religion, but there are worse things than a church trying to ensure that a marriage is undertaken on solid ground. Primo's Lutheran pastor also requires it, but she doesn't make us undergo extra counseling with her.

Our friends Norah and Henry saw Father Joe for their pre-marital counseling and recommend him. "He doesn't make you go to the whole six-weekend thing," they say.

Not that I have anything against the diocese's full-blown counseling, but it is geared toward 20somethings. They put together budgets, talk about who will take out the trash, who will do the cooking, whether they will have children, who will stay home with the kids: all issues Primo and I have already discussed ad nauseum because I am a worst-case scenario person and have to have a plan. I would not have agreed to marry Primo, sell my house, move to another city, and spend the rest of my life with him unless we shared the same values and goals and I understood where we were financially.

But I absolutely support this kind of discussion for anyone who is getting married because money AND IN-LAWS are the things that married couples fight about the most. In my experience, anyhow.

We make an appointment with Fr Joe (I've been going to his church for a few years), one of the sweetest priests in the world. He was a prisoner in a Vietnamese concentration camp, then escaped somehow. He is a rabid anti-communist and gives a great Fourth of July sermon about how the United States is basically the land of milk and honey. It is a little difficult to understand his accent, but with some concentration, it's possible.

He gives us a guide of things to discuss - questions about how we were raised, how things were in our families growing up, what our parents' relationships were like - that Primo and I have taken on long car trips. It is an interesting book that has led to some good talks between the two of us.

But we don't talk about the book with Fr Joe. He gives us three key pieces of advice. Be nice. Don't interrupt. Don't get complacent and fall into a rut.

It's working so far.

1. Husband and wife supposed to try to make each other happy. If wife say, “I have head-aitch,” husband say, “Why you tell me?! Go get Tylenol on shelf.”

Is it not better when husband say, “Oh! You have head-aitch. Here two tablets and glass of water.” That how husband and wife supposed to be.

2. The wife should not interrupt the husband during the basketball game.

3. Father Joe: We live in community. Six priests. Five nationalities: Vietnam, Korea, African-American, Philippines, Poland. We cook. Different food every day.

Me: Wow! That sounds great!

Father Joe: Ahhhh! Korea food very spicy! Very spicy! And how can someone eat kim chee every day?

4. Man and woman alone – no good! Remember, nobody perfect! Everyone need help. If you perfect, then you God and don’t need help.

5. This Vietnamese woman tell me, “I don’t like cheese! I don’t like sandwich!” Then she marry American man. She study many cookbook so she can prepare him the food he like. After two years, she say, “Now I like cheese. There many different kinds of cheese. I did not know!”