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Because Maya Angelou’s not for everyone.



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The Mr and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary at the end of this month, and despite the fact that I enjoy the occasionally laugh at the Mr’s expense (like, maybe, here and here…also, a little bit here), I am lucky to be married to someone I love. Getting married is a privilege that is, sadly (and, I believe, unjustly), not afforded to everyone. And, on a less serious note, getting married provided me the opportunity to stop dating–something I was never terribly good at.

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate told me: “Boys don’t want girlfriends. They just want new moms.” Although I’m not sure she was exactly accurate in describing the motives of the average college-aged male, she may have been onto something in describing me.

As our wedding anniversary approaches and I count my lucky stars to be out of the dating world, because for me dating was like a bad version of that children’s book “Are You My Mother?”

I assume that you are familiar with this repetitive–and, if I may, stupid–book. In it, a tiny, baby bird naively goes wondering, looking for his mother. He stumbles around, asking animals, cars and jet airplanes “Are you my mother?” Not surprisingly, none of these things, animals or objects are, in fact, his mother.  And his search continues…

Like this idiotic bird, I began my search at a young age. But unlike the bird, I already knew who my mother was–a scary, WASP-y woman I wished was Danny Tanner. So, I was on a different quest. A search for “my person”. Someone to laugh at my jokes and fold my laundry hold my hand. I was on a search for the Mr, but it took me a long time to get to him.

My first romantic interest was the boy I shared a bench with in my kindergarten music and movement class. We’ll call him Kindergarten Krush. Kindergarten Krush used to pretend to kiss me, and I used to pretend to hate it. He showered me with attention, and I let him share my grape juice box.

But our love affair was brief.

One day, I invited him over to my house to play; I can only assume that I believed this to be the equivalent of making him my official boyfriend. And because of Kindergarten Krush’s obvious affection for me, I was sure we would spend the afternoon doing the things I liked, such as play house, dressing my cat and talking about how great I am.

Little did I know that a board game was about to demolish our relationship.

Kindergarten Krush spent the entire afternoon playing with FIREBALL ISLAND (judging by the box, I assume this is the way the manufacturers wanted this game to be written), a game my older brother had just received for Christmas, and neglecting me.

In retrospect, I can’t blame a 5-year-old boy for his inability to overlook a game with so much fire on its box cover. But as a 5-year-old girl, I was furious.

And it was over. So over.

It was in college that my search led me to a dim surfer we’ll call SCUBA Steve.

SCUBA Steve was a SCUBA major. Because I was in school in South Florida for a second, and in South Florida, SCUBA is an acceptable major.

SCUBA Steve was a kind and gentle soul, who couldn’t hurt a fly. He also–to the best of my estimations–couldn’t tell the difference between the beach and everywhere else.

He was always dressed for surfing, which proved problematic when I invited him home to meet my parents.

After I realized that SCUBA Steve didn’t come with any non-pool-themed accessories, I decided to continue my search.

It’s around this time in the book that the bird–delirious from wandering, I assume–finds himself in some potentially dangerous situations, chasing after airplanes, shouting after tugboats and approaching abandoned cars. “Are you my mother?”

Again, I can relate, as I found myself tempting fate with some terrible choices.

Including dating a 19-year-old frat boy who wore a gold watch without irony.

And entertaining a brief tryst with a man several years my senior who worked as a chef in a restaurant. His hobbies included brooding, treating me poorly and thinking everything was bull shit.

Aren’t we all glad that’s over with?

Like the moronic bird, though, I am indebted to each of my missteps. Because all of the boys and men I encountered on my search ultimately helped to deliver me to my final destination.

So at the end of this month, when the Mr and I raise our glasses to toast four years of marriage, I guess we’ll be toasting these strange characters, too. And how grateful I am to be rid of their crazy faces.

I have two brothers and one sister. The order goes like: older brother (who just turned 30), me (28), younger sister (24), younger brother (almost 22).

When we were kids, our house was chaotic. Lots of people, lots of toys, lots of trouble.

It’s safe to say that my siblings and I divided our time equally between terrorizing each other and sitting in time out for our misdeeds.

There was no rhyme or reason for the way we picked on each other. But the absence of a motive never slowed us down. Growing up, we spent hours of our time chasing after each other, hitting each other, hiding each others’ toys.

Because we were older and responsible for “setting a good example”, my older brother and I were often in more trouble than my younger brother and sister.

The younger kids seemed to skate for offenses that would have landed my older brother and me alone in our rooms or worse. I’m still stinging from the time my younger brother bit me on the arm for taking the front seat in my mom’s car when he wanted to sit up front. He bit me so hard that he actually drew blood, and my mom’s only reprimand was to tell him to “buckle up.” The event reeked of injustice to me.

One day, tired of enduring punishments–but not at all sick of doling them out–my older brother and I decided to join forces. Usually, he and I were sworn enemies, but we had had enough of time outs. Enough of groundings. We decided that the only way to pick on our younger siblings and escape the consequences would be to work together.

I’m sure my parents would have been proud, had our motives not been so sinister.

Regardless, for a brief moment, my older brother and I became unlikely alliances in the greatest insult ever told.

(“Barbara” is not the insult. It’s my nickname for my little brother. I lovingly call him Barbara to his face, and he is fine with it.)

Our mission was clear: mischief without reprimand.

With our eyes on the prize, we went looking for Barbara and were pleased to find him minding his own business, playing with his cars. Unsupervised.

This was around the time that the “your epidermis is showing” joke was making the rounds at school. And if that gag had taught us anything, it was that the only way to tease without consequence would be to tell Barbara something about himself that was true but to make it sound repulsive and embarrassing.

And so it began…

Poor Barbara. We knew we had his attention by the distressed look on his face. He had no idea what a brain was, and now, it was the last thing he wanted to have.

And then came the all important denial.

It was beautiful. Our trick had been a success.

Then, it was time for the all-important, ever-present “run-and-tell-mom” move.

We had known it would come, but considering how clever the teasing had been, we expected we would at least be able to talk our way out of punishment.

“We were just trying to help him learn about brains,” we would say.

But then came a plot twist O. Henry himself couldn’t have written any better.

In a glorious twist of fate, my mother had affirmed our hour of teasing in the hopes of calming my younger brother.

Unknowingly, she had endorsed Barbara’s tormentors and rocked his 3-year-old world.

After realizing that she had not, in fact, righted Barbara’s concerns my mom spent a good 30 minutes explaining that everyone has a brain. Even his terrible older brother and sister.

We were never punished. I can’t be certain why, but I like to think my mother was too impressed with our cunning scheme. Maybe she just forgot to punish us, because she was in the middle of raising four kids under the age of 10.

Regardless, the alliance between my older brother and I quickly disbanded–probably over who ate the last cookie or something–and our house resumed its “every-man-for-himself” atmosphere.

But it didn’t matter. We had had our moment in the sun. It was brief, but “the brain tease”, as it has come to be known, is still the stuff of legends among my siblings. Even Barbara loves the story these days.

It will go down in family history as the day we committed the perfect crime.