“I still can’t believe you wore that sweater to my parents, on Christmas of all days. You know how much I hate that sweater. Sweetie, you looked like the Michelin Man in our Christmas photo,” she said, applying her nail polish in the passenger seat. “What have you got against the Michelin Man? All of a sudden you’re too good for the Michelin Man?! If you’re too good for the Michelin man, then baby, I’m afraid we’re done here,” he said. An idiot’s grin spanning from ear to ear as his hands gripped 10 and 2; his wife so displeased you could, quite literally, hear her eyes rolling.
This was a normal conversation for them. She would start a serious conversation, with a strong thesis and a piercing conclusion. He would play the role of contrarian like it was his job (and one he took quite seriously at that). But that was them.
Her, endlessly practical, dreadfully detail oriented, and much to his delight, usually correct in her opinions and assessments of, well, everything. Also, gassy. Him, perpetually aloof and so casually unconcerned with the world that he often forgot he was a part of it. Oh, right, and a first tier troll; so much so that his wife has often thought of constructing a bridge over their apartment to complete the imagery.
Their marriage was boring, at least other people could assume it was. Driving east down I-294 towards Chicago. Maneuvering their rental car home to their modest apartment and middle class jobs. A couple of city ‘kids.’ Young…ish. Full of sparkling water and bad jokes. Windows down, listening to a playlist so eclectic that even Bowie would have cringed.
Yet, boring or not, enjoying one another’s company came natural to them; even as she ‘jokingly’ complained and he trolled her incessantly. They could both hear “I love you” loud and clear in each other’s unremarkable words, and both felt supremely comforted by the others presence.
For them, boring was brilliance. A bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Merlot was their dinner, and their movie was good book, or a card game. A night on the town was easily beaten by a night on the couch and if they had the choice they’d trade their suits and dresses for sweatpants and t-shirts. Don’t get me wrong, they loved the city; the people, the culture, the food, the architecture, the entertainment. Everything was at their fingertips in the Mecca of the Mid-West and millions of potential interactions crossed their path every day. Still, nothing could beat the exhilaration of being known, truly and intimately know, and simultaneously loved; nothing could beat being home with her. With him.
“Next Christmas I’m thinking about bringing frosted tips and acid washed jeans to your parent’s place,” he said. That same stupid grin sweeping across his face, somehow managing to be bigger than before. -Silence. “Babe? Okay?” He asked. –Silence. “Maybe a nice turtle neck to really complete the ensemble.” He said in jest. “I’ll take care of the laundry when we get home if you do the dishes,” she said without skipping a beat. Never before had someone managed to both admit defeat and deliver the winning blow with one sentence before; but that was her. “Brilliant. That was brilliant. You’re brilliant babe, you know that right?” He asked her, proud as he’d ever been.
“I know,” she said with a fart to boot. “Love you.”
He died from the smell and crashed the car.
That’ll be $12.00.