Well, it's official. As of this Thursday, I will have spent exactly twice as much time on this planet being married, as I spent not being married! Fortunately, being a child bride, I'm still amazingly young. Nevertheless because of my lengthy matrimonial tenure I feel imminently qualified to weigh in on what it's like to be hitched to the same person for fully two-thirds of one's life.
For me, the weirdest side effect of the whole business is that by this point my husband and I are literally sharing the same brain. Don't ask me how or when this happened. It just did. One minute I'm a young girl whose primary focus is the tragic destiny of Ali McGraw's character in "Love Story” – the next I'm a middle-aged woman with surprisingly informed opinions on (I can't believe I'm saying this…) the financial market! The very fact that I even know that QE2 is a level of Quantitative Easement and not a British luxury liner could only be the result of spending almost four decades being married to a living, breathing human Excel spreadsheet.
Similarly, there was a time in his young life when my husband knew everything there was to know about race car driver "Big Daddy Don Garlits”, but was blissfully ignorant about stuff like fashion and hairstyles. These days, every time Marc sees a woman on television whose hair is flat and lifeless, he remarks, "That girl needs a Bumpit!” Believe me, for a big old west Texas farm boy like him to have the slightest clue about what a Bumpit is – let alone recognizing an appropriate need for it – is nothing short of remarkable, and can only be explained by thirty-eight years of nonstop exposure to the female perspective.
But more than just a simple melding of interests and hobbies, we've actually reached a point in our brain-sharing where we think the same thoughts, finish each other's sentences, espouse the same world view, and even blurt out the same jokes at exactly the same time.
It's this last one, of course, that drives us the most crazy. And do you know why? Because at heart we're both a couple of closet comedians whose knee-jerk reaction to everything in life is a witty retort; and while this may sound like a recipe for non-stop hilarity around our house, the truth is there's also an underlying current of competitiveness at play too. In a way, it's sort of like living in a perpetual Jeopardy match where the category is "Funny Quips”. Alex Trebek gives the setup, and the first one of us to buzz in with a silly response wins. Let me give you a couple of illustrations:
The other evening we were strolling in our neighborhood when we came upon a dead frog on the sidewalk. Immediately my husband tells me, "I'll bet I know what happened to him”, to which I – being the sucker I am – reply, "What?” And without missing a beat Marc says, "He croaked.”
Then there's this one: The two of us were browsing through some photos, and when I saw an unflatteringly plump one of myself, wearing my new apricot linen jacket, standing next to my husband, I lamented, "Hey, look! It's James and the Giant Peach!” (I'm sure Marc was thinking of the same gag line, but this is one time where he figured it would be wiser not to come out with it!)
The contest of humor one-upmanship never ends. I serve hot dogs and it sets off a volley of puns ("This doesn't cut the mustard”, "I don't relish being in this situation”, "If it weren't for you we wouldn't be in this pickle!” "I never sausage a mess!” "Frankly, my dear…”) with neither one of us willing to concede, or let the other one get in the last line.
So it basically boils down to this. When two people live together for a really long time, it's only natural that their thoughts and desires and opinions, and yes even their punch lines should sort of morph into one entity. In my case I happened to get lucky in that the brain my husband is kind enough to share with me is an exceptionally nice one. It can conjugate verbs in multiple languages, decipher complicated instruction manuals, calculate percentages, remember important dates, and recite all the words to "The Battle of New Orleans”.
In short, the man I married is a real wiener – a Giant Peach of a guy – and I'll love him ‘til I croak!