While there are sparks in my marriage, they’re of the “Baby, you so hot I gots to dab the nape of my neck with a moist sponge just to keep off you” variety more than “You swollen gonad, the very sound of your voice is like the tines of a fork screeching down a chalkboard that has been shellacked with aluminum foil and broken sea shells, a sound that makes me want to shriek to the heavens as I snap the fork and yank your head off.”
You see, with both of us descending from Northern European stock, Groomeo and I tend towards a certain levelness (as well as a fondness for the combination of vodka and sleeping in snowbanks). Subsequently, we don’t really fight.
Indeed, our marital sparks don’t fly during fiery exchanges, wherein I throw a wooden spoon from the spaghetti sauce at my husband, and he dodges it, resulting in smears of sauce on the wall behind him that we then watch dry, over the course of ensuing months, to a crisp brittleness, a process matched only by the creeping desiccation of love in our hearts. Fortuitously, the Groom and the Jocey aren’t left mopping up sauce–or the pieces of our shattered dreams dipped into a soggy tempura of tears.
Mostly, we look at each other, mutually exasperated, and roll our eyes at kid drama; or we bust a lung guffawing at Flight of the Conchords; or we say “yummmmm” really loudly when we take the first bite of homefries at dinner time; or we ask “How was your ski?” when the other comes into the house covered tip to toe with ice crystals and a hint of frostbite on the nose; or we band together to point out the flaws of people not in our presence; or we wonder aloud why we stopped listening to Liz Phair for a couple of years; or we go into manic-duo-folding-laundry mode before bedtime in an effort to make-go-away the five loads of rumpled clothes that obscure our mattress; or we stand behind our new digital camera and push buttons, noting repeatedly, “Nope, I don’t know what that one does, either.”
Me likey him. He likey me. It’s that easy.
In fact, we live in such monotonous harmony that we were surprised, a few weeks ago, to stumble across a sideways sort of marital disagreement.
See, last month, I went out for drinkies with The Ladies (this one time, I don’t actually mean my breasts when I type “The Ladies”; I mean actual people. They have breasts, though, some of them mighty pert. That’s part of what makes ’em ladies. That, and their unnatural fixation with shoes). My dinner that evening consisted of foodstuffs taken directly from the nutritional pyramid’s recommended blocks of Ultimate Nachos and Big Boat Stout.
Back at home, on kid duty, Groom had a bachelor’s meal: leftover chili heaped onto a bed of noodles, all ladeled over a baked potato.
The next morning, as I held my aching head and heard what he’d eaten, I could muster up only a rousing “Blech and more blech. Noodles on a baked potato? Way to carbo-load. Go out and run for three hours now, Marathon Man. Get me some ibuprofen–and a medicinal martini–while you’re at it.”
“You shudder, but it was really good,” he maintained. “I’d seen somewhere that there’s actually a dish like that called ‘Cincinnati Chili,’ so I thought I’d try it.”
“There is not such a thing anywhere, ever, on Planet Earthy. And you should not have done that thing to your food. Swear to Gross Meals Anonymous, but no one ever would willingly put all those things together and shovel them into their pie hole. No such thing exists. Stop being a big liar.”
“It was good, and I know I saw the recipe in Gourmet or somewhere.”
Continuing to elucidate my feelings with all possible ration, I yelled, “You did not go and do bad things to food like that on purpose! And we all know that foo-foo poncey magazine Gourmet is a big story-maker-upper just like you, Mr. Liarpanties.”
Ready to take me on, and well aware of my despair over students who write research papers in which all sources on the Works Cited page begin with “wiki-,” Groom got a glint in his eye.
“I, uh, just need about five minutes upstairs,” he called out, heading for the computer. Moments later, I heard him muttering to himself, “Creating a Wikipedia entry about ‘Cinncinati Chili’ couldn’t take longer than five minutes, right?”
Overhearing him, I bellered, “You are SO busted. You can’t try to be right by making up your own Wikipedia page to show me! I cry foul! Step away from the computer, you aggressor against juried and peer reviewed academia!”
Once I stopped tackling him–whoops, sparks were starting to fly!–he gasped, “I can too make up my own Wikipedia pages for anything I ever need to prove to you, like the fact that an entire city in the U.S. does put chili over noodles.”
Hey, wait. Just chili over noodles? I was already down with that part.
In truth, it was the last step, of hefting the chili-noodles onto a baked potato, that had made me incredulous. I mean, no one needs the baked potato in there when you’ve already got the warm, soft clouds of flour and salt called, in some exotic climes, pasta. That’s where the whole thing got dummm. But chili and noodles? Yea. Duh.
At this point, Groom clarified: “I was only saying that ‘Cinncinati Chili’ is chili over noodles. It so happened I was really hungry last night, so I decided to have a baked potato, too, and then I didn’t want to dirty two dishes, so I put it all in the same bowl. I wasn’t saying they also do the potato part waaaay over there in Ohio. I would never try to sell you on the potato.”