My wife and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this week, the second with child. It was an occasion marked by a romantic trip to the bathroom by myself and a semi-annual refitting of my ball and chain (tighter and heavier than last year's).
What can I say about marriage that has not already been said about death row, except that my execution date seems really far away? And I doubt I'll be getting biscuits and gravy and funnel cake for my last meal — if things continue along the current trajectory, I'm looking at a piece of spinach with a fat-free vinaigrette.
My wife takes good care of me, which is becoming kind of a problem. She is determined to extend my life as long as possible: As per her wishes, I have given up cigarettes, microwave burritos and eating entire bags of Doritos in one sitting — and I fear that this may increase my life expectancy by as much as a decade. And even then, I might be too physically fit to qualify for my free Hoveround wheelchair.
I am of the belief that one should value quality of life over quantity of life. Don't stuff me in an old folks home in my twilight years and allow me to subsist off of a carefully measured diet of beef bouillon and cardboard shavings; that's not how I want to go out. Feed me a couple pounds of bacon and let me die a man's death, with my heart exploding while I'm on the toilet, battling, as warriors ought to do.
Or throw me out of a plane, no parachute. Run me over with a tank. Make me lose my footing while I'm fistfighting you on top of a runaway semi-truck. Let me have the dignity in death that I could not have in life.
Of course, dignity is probably out of the question, since my wife has first dibs on how, when and where I shuffle off this mortal coil.
(Fun fact: The standard phrasing "Till death do us part" was omitted from my wedding vows at the behest of my wife. Her intentions are ominous.)
I always joke with my friends and co-workers that if I ever go missing in a suspicious and unexplained manner, they can be sure that my wife did it. And that's not because she's some sort of violent psycho killer, but rather because I am exactly the kind of person that could provoke her to murder.
I should probably take this moment to clarify — just in case, Swayze forbid, I actually go missing someday — that when I have made this statement in the past, present and future, I was, and continue to be, joking. My wife is the sweetest person I know. She is kind and generous. She is afraid of bugs. And she knows where my body is buried.
As long as we're on the topic of marriage and its logical conclusion — death — I would also like to make it publicly known that when I knock out, my wishes are to be burned on a pyre. In the event a pyre cannot be adequately constructed (through shortage of lumber or a general lack of know-how), a pile of sticks and empty beer cans will get the job done, but again, I want to stress that I'd PREFER a pyre.
Now, I could certainly take a moment to tell you how much I love my wife and how she's my best friend and how by the time I'm 34 we will have spent half of our lives together, but I know it's Sunday morning, and you're eating breakfast that you'd rather not regurgitate, and some of you are bitter to love — as you should be; your ex was a Grade A evil person — so I think I'll just spend the rest of this column providing those new to the trenches (i.e., the marrieds) with tips to survive.
In the last three years, I have learned approximately three things about marriage:
First, for the rest of your life, you will have to live with the fact that your wife thinks she is a better driver than you, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is not a point worth fighting over.
That is not to say you should give up (never admit defeat, man!), but rather when it comes up in conversation — as it is prone to do when you miss a left-hand turn or get in the wrong lane on the interstate — simply smile and nod, knowing all the while that you're right, and she is wrong, and there is nothing she can do to change cold, unquestionable truth.
Second, you will not win an argument with your wife so long as you both (but primarily you) shall live. And this is not because "no one ever wins a fight" or some feel-good mumbo jumbo like that, but because when you married her, you gave up all of your leverage. She won. Game over, man. To the victor go the spoils.
Third, if your favorite shirt develops a hole, or the crotch rips out of your lucky boxer shorts, they will disappear without warning in the middle of the night. Do not be alarmed. You have not misplaced them. Early onset Alzheimer's is not to blame. Rather, it was your wife, the silent assassin of your wardrobe.
This also applies, in reverse, to V-neck sweaters and boxer-briefs that magically appear in your drawer. For your wife is not only an assassin, but an architect as well.
Every year, the ball gets bigger, and the chain gets shorter. Cheers!
Ryan Jackson has been learning the harmonica and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.