The other night, after I thought I heard the front door slam, it occurred to me that there’s really no point in discussing the dresses we choose for our midlife weddings if we don’t spend at least a few minutes considering a topic that is nearly as significant, if not quite as fun: finding just the right husband to go with the dress.
I know what you’re thinking (because I’ve turned on the Google Thought Translator™ that helpfully came with my new iBrain). You’re thinking: Well, but I don’t want him to be too matchy-matchy.
That’s an excellent point. Does anyone really want, say, a frilly husband with a low neck? Or a lacy husband with a dropped waist?
I say no.
(I also say, but wait: what the hell are you wearing? This isn’t the 1970s.)
But nearly as important as getting a husband who contrasts, but doesn’t clash, with your outfit is finding one you’ll want to hang on to even after your big day has come and gone.
And not just because you’re concerned about the environment.
I don’t know about you (because the fucking internet keeps going out, and now the GTT™ isn’t working), but I’ve reached the stage where I’d prefer a marriage that’s more about making puns and watching (spoiler alert!) Downton Abbey SVU than it is about having a splashy party and then waiting for the ever-increasing number of kids to fall asleep in the car so I can listen to Paul Simon songs and weep.
This is what I realized when I thought I heard the front door slam: that I am now in a way different, way happier marriage.
Because in my first marriage, the front door slamming meant that my husband had just stormed out, again, for reasons I couldn’t begin to imagine but that were most certainly going to turn out to be my fault.
So the other night, when I heard what I thought was the sound of the front door slamming, I felt something I hadn’t felt in years: some combination of frightened and stricken and a little bit sick to my stomach, with a side of wanting to disappear entirely rather than endure whatever it was that was about to unfold.
What had I done?
Did it matter?
What would it take to make it better?
Would I have to apologize and apologize, only to be made to feel even worse about it, even though I still had no idea what it was I had done?
Most of all, how could I have forgotten that this is what marriage is really about, and why the hell had I willingly gone right back into it, now that I’m way way older than the age I was when I was old enough to know way fucking better?
I ran to the window to watch my next ex-husband driving away.
“What are you doing?” he asked from the couch.
“Jack?” I said (which, for the sake of privacy, and because he changed it in college, but not legally, is not his real name). “I thought I heard the door slam. I thought you were mad at me, and had stormed out!”
“Umm, no,” he said, thoughtfully, his phone making the “bloop bloop” sound of the Shuffle Letter function on Words With Friends. “Why would I ever be mad at you?”
“Oh,” I said. “Then why did you slam the door?”
“I didn’t,” he said. He looked up, his eyes soft with concern. “Honey, do you think ‘yiyi’ is a word?”
I never did find out who had slammed the door (I’m looking at you, Exposition Fairy) or why (vicious game of Chinese Checkers with the Actual Ghost), but what’s important about the story is that I had come to expect it.
Because my first marriage had been full of that sound, and full of noise, and drama, and trauma, in general.
And while maybe that’s because I had chosen to wear an ivory, tea-length, shawl-collared wedding dress with my mother’s pearls and those stupid dye-to-match shoes, maybe–just maybe–it was because I had picked the wrong guy to go with it.