Yesterday, I wrote about learning naughty words and naughty stories. (Isn't the word naughty just so much more appealing than dirty? Or nasty? Or filthy? Or obscene? It has the aroma of childhood about it instead of the fetor of adulthood.) Today ... another kind of learning ... learning to live with a spouse.
Joyce and I had hardly met when we married on December 20, 1969. We had met the previous July (that's five months earlier for those of you who are arithmetically challenged). And we did not--oh, horrible, horrible, most horrible--live together before we were married. Even though my religious beliefs had softened by 1969, I was still fairly sure that living together IN SIN (my parents' words) was a one-way ticket to You-Know-Where.
Well ... kind of. We had found an apartment to rent (323 College Court in Kent) at a stiff price ($75/month) where we would live after the ceremony, but I was living there already (commuting to my job at Aurora Middle School; taking night classes at KSU), and Joyce, who was continuing her graduate work at KSU, would, you know, use the place to, you know, "study" during the day. And evening. But she drove home to her parents' place on Evergreen Avenue in Akron every night. Every single night. (The sound you hear is the gnashing of a frustrated young man's teeth.)
But the wedding arrived. The honeymoon in New Orleans. The return to Kent. The learning-to-live-together. Understand: I had been on my own for several years--used to doing things my way. Moreover, my parents were in some fundamental ways pretty traditional (Mom cooked and cleaned; Dad watched--though he also had "specialties" he cooked: buckwheat pancakes, grilled meat outside, etc.); in other ways, they were different--Mom worked, went to Pittsburgh and got her Ph.D., and so on.
So ... in the naivete of my youth I assumed things would remain as they'd been: I would do what I want; Joyce would do what I want. Simple ... right?
The first night we were home, she cooked. After eating, I went out to watch the news. Joyce came out, too. Puzzled, I said, "Aren't you going to do the dishes?"
Her reply: "Aren't you?"
And that, as they say, was that.
But one more ... complicated story. I learned, very early in our marriage, that Joyce loves pasta (she still does: she has kept Dontino's in business the past half-century). One night, only weeks after our marriage, we made spaghetti, then realized we had no sauce. Oops.
I said, We have some A-1--we could just use that.
Joyce: That's not a good idea.
Dan the Idiot: Yes, it is! [Dan the Idiot pours A-1 on the pile of spaghetti.]
Joyce: Why did you just do that?
Dan the Idiot: It'll be okay--you'll see.
[Joyce takes the platter of pasta to the nearby bathroom. Dan the Idiot hears a splash, a flush. Joyce returns with empty platter.]
Dan the Idiot: Why did you do that?
Joyce: Because ...
I forget the words. I've never forgotten the lesson.