They say opposites attract. I didn’t marry my complete opposite, but the Mr and I are not the same. We are not the same at all.
For example, if you work in telemarketing, please call my house. And then PRAY that the Mr answers.
Here’s what happens when I pick up…
Mom. Dad. If you’re reading this, then you’ve found me on the internet and the apocalypse is upon us. I know you’re probably a little miffed about the Danny Tanner comments, but since the end is nigh, let’s agree to let bygones be bygones.
Because before zombies eat your brains, I have some good news for you: I’ve never, ever done drugs. I’ve never even tried them. I didn’t drink in high school. I never shoplifted lipstick in middle school. I never ditched one day of high school.
I had friends that did all of the things I didn’t do, and on a number of occasions, I received invitations to join them. I always politely declined.
(I’m not judging you if you’ve done these things. I made these choices ages ago, when I thought I might still want to be president…and before, you know, you could still get elected after doing blow out of Gennifer Flowers’ belly button…or Karl Rove’s cufflinks.)
All of this is to say: I’m not easily coerced by my peers.
In fact, when it comes to peer pressure, it’s become clear to me that I have only one weakness: organized sports.
For reasons I cannot articulate, I have allowed my friends to bully me into hours–sometimes years–of physical pain in the name of organized sports.
I first realized my vulnerability to coercion in high school. When, at the tender age of 15, I was thrown to the lions of the rowing world.
It began innocently enough; an acquaintance mentioned that she was going to join my high school’s crew team. “Good luck with that,” I muttered. Inside, enjoying a good chuckle at this poor girl who was about to put herself through hours of physical punishment, six times a week. You poor fool, I thought.
When I saw her the next day, she told me she had signed me up, too. That bitch.
“I thought it would be fun if we went together,” she smiled. As I fumed, Fun for who?
I suspect I could have–probably SHOULD have–un-signed myself up. Surely, no one was going to police the very unofficial orange, sign-up sheet with my name on it. But instead of flaking–fearful of letting down this presumptuous acquaintance–I went to the first practice.
This ought to get her off my back, I thought.
It was a blood bath from the start. Do you know what it’s like to learn to row?
First, it’s pretty exciting, because you’re all: “I saw this in an inspirational poster once. Look, you guys! We’re in a crew shell! We’re floating!”
Then, you take your first couple of strokes and, invariably, that leads to what is known in the crew world as “catching a crab”*. Due to your awkward movement and poorly timed rhythm, you find your oar stuck under water. When this happens, though, the shell is still moving. So the water propels your oar into your face.
What kind of messed up shit is that?
But the punishment doesn’t stop there, because even after you get good enough not be smacked in the face with an oar, you still have to train for three hours. Every day. And did I mention crew is a year round sport?
Again, maybe I could have gotten myself out of it. But once you get assigned to a boat, there are other people counting on you to show up. And then, if you’re me, your competitive instincts take over and you want to make the best boat. And once that happens, you want to keep your seat in that varsity boat and win races.
And so it was that I rowed. All through high school.
I would have written my vulnerability to peer pressure off as a fluke.
But then something awful happened: My high school crew coach got me an athletic scholarship. To a college I had never heard of. I didn’t want to let anyone down, though. So I took the scholarship and moved to Miami. And it took me getting tendinitis and having an argument with my college coach to get out of that situation.
By then, I thought I had really learned my lesson: Just say no to sports. Always
But you guys, to this day, I am powerless when confronted with phrases like “it’s for a good cause” and “let’s do it together”.
My friends, well-meaning jerks that they are, have tricked me into countless 5ks.
I was even hoodwinked into running a triathlon once. For a children’s hospital. Because who can say no to children!?! (Seriously, I’ll probably need to know how to say no to children’s charity events in the future.)
The triathlon was where it finally became clear to me that my friends were probably trying to kill me. Five miles into the 18-mile bike ride (and after the 1/3 mile swim but before the 5k run), I was enjoying a quiet breather…
when I started to think: Who would do this to a friend? Friends don’t let friends run triathlons.
I got a phone call the other day, from a girl friend who wanted to know if I would run a 10k with her. All I could think was: How do you people keep finding me? And why do you want me to die?
I’m seriously considering some kind of witness protection program.
*In case my “catching a crab” illustration wasn’t enough, here’s this:
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.
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